Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 21, 2008 - History - 320 pages
One of our most eminent Lincoln scholars, winner of a Lincoln Prize for his Lincoln at Cooper Union, examines the four months between Lincoln's election and inauguration, when the president-elect made the most important decision of his coming presidency -- there would be no compromise on slavery or secession of the slaveholding states, even at the cost of civil war.

Abraham Lincoln first demonstrated his determination and leadership in the Great Secession Winter -- the four months between his election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861 -- when he rejected compromises urged on him by Republicans and Democrats, Northerners and Southerners, that might have preserved the Union a little longer but would have enshrined slavery for generations. Though Lincoln has been criticized by many historians for failing to appreciate the severity of the secession crisis that greeted his victory, Harold Holzer shows that the presidentelect waged a shrewd and complex campaign to prevent the expansion of slavery while vainly trying to limit secession to a few Deep South states.

During this most dangerous White House transition in American history, the country had two presidents: one powerless (the president-elect, possessing no constitutional authority), the other paralyzed (the incumbent who refused to act). Through limited, brilliantly timed and crafted public statements, determined private letters, tough political pressure, and personal persuasion, Lincoln guaranteed the integrity of the American political process of majority rule, sounded the death knell of slavery, and transformed not only his own image but that of the presidency, even while making inevitable the war that would be necessary to make these achievements permanent.

Lincoln President-Elect is the first book to concentrate on Lincoln's public stance and private agony during these months and on the momentous consequences when he first demonstrated his determination and leadership. Holzer recasts Lincoln from an isolated prairie politician yet to establish his greatness, to a skillful shaper of men and opinion and an immovable friend of freedom at a decisive moment when allegiance to the founding credo "all men are created equal" might well have been sacrificed.

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Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860–1861

User Review  - Book Verdict

Holzer provides a thorough account of Lincoln's actions during the secession winter: persuading Republicans to resist any accommodations with secessionists, assembling a diverse and talented cabinet ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - cyderry - LibraryThing

It's hard to believe that a book this large was devoted only to the activities surrounding one man in a 3 month period of time. It was extremely detailed in the activities of Abraham Lincoln ... Read full review


Part One the PrOmise Of sOmething Better
Chapter Two My Troubles Have Just Commenced
Chapter Three We Wont Jump That Ditch
Chapter Six Very Much Like the Critter
Part twO the mOmentOus issue Of Civil
Chapter Eight Will You Hazard So Desperate a Step?
Chapter Thirteen The Ultimate Justice of the People
Epilogue Mystic Chords of Memory

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About the author (2008)

Harold Holzer, a leading authority on Lincoln and the Civil War, is Chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and a Roger Hertog Fellow at the New York Historical Society. Widely honored for his work, Holzer earned a second-place Lincoln Prize for Lincoln at Cooper Union in 2005 and in 2008 was awarded the National Humanities Medal. Holzer is Senior Vice President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and lives in Rye, New York.

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