I wish he had kept the same focus he had here with Tried By War. Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution is a great collection of thought-provoking essays by today's preeminent Civil War historian. Even those who've read extensively on Lincoln and the Civil War will find something new here, and anyone with a political science bent will especially appreciate the political theory in this volume. One person found this helpful. McPherson, in this collection of essays, puts forth the idea that the Civil War was the second American Revolution -- an attempt to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal.
He argues quite persuasively that the revisionists miss the mark when they claim that Lincoln didn't really care about freeing the slaves, that the Emancipation Proclamation didn't have any effect, etc. I don't think there's a lot "new" here especially if you've already read Battle Cry of Freedom but it's a very good read, nevertheless. It's also a good deal shorter than Battle Cry of Freedom, so that might appeal to some people. This well-argued collection of James McPherson's occasional pieces focuses primarily on what the author sees as the fundamental changes that the Civil War brought to America's polity, economics, culture, and self-identity.
The first, second, third, and seventh of the essays deal especially with this theme. The middle fourth, fifth, and sixth essays are less directly related to it, but nonetheless offer fascinating explorations of Lincoln the total war president, Lincoln the wordsmith, and Lincoln the "hedgehog. Many historians since have agreed, although for varying reasons. McPherson's main project in this book is to figure out whether and how the Civil War can be considered the "second American Revolution. First, the war shifted the economic and political power balance in the United States. The war's devastation of southern property and demographics, especially after it evolved from a limited to a total conflict, shifted economic superiority to northern industry and agriculture.
Moreover, the southern states' virtual antebellum monopoly of the White House, as well as their immense congressional power, was broken for the next half century. This is what McPherson and others refer to as the "external" revolution. But there was an "internal" revolution too in the realm of legal rights and national self-identity. Four million slaves were freed and granted civil and political rights, and the southern aristocracy, along with the entire way of life and set of values it maintained, disappeared or at least went underground. Moreover, argues McPherson, the war brought about a shift from early Republic concentration on liberty as "freedom from" negative liberty , which distrusted strong central government, to liberty as "freedom to" positive liberty , which emphasized the responsibility of the federal government to guarantee civil rights.
This shift helped create a new sense of national identity that focused on the nation rather than the region: McPherson might be drawing on the work of philosophers of language in his fascinating discussion Chapter V of Lincoln's influential talent for creating and manipulating "live" as opposed to "dead" metaphors in expressing his opinions and seeking support for his policies.
In both these cases, McPherson nicely weaves some philosophical analysis into his historical interpretations. He rehearses the well-worn argument that the suspension was simply necessary from a pragmatic perspective--end of discussion. As Lincoln said in another context, "often a limb must be sacrificed to save a life. How far can one go in suspending liberties in order to preserve liberty?
Nonetheless, the essays collected in Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution are exactly what readers have come to expect from McPherson: They aren't the final word, and I suspect McPherson doesn't expect them to be. But they wonderfully enrich the on-going conversation. See all 40 reviews. There's a problem loading this menu right now.
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Amazon Inspire Digital Educational Resources. Amazon Rapids Fun stories for kids on the go. Amazon Restaurants Food delivery from local restaurants. I have ordered the Foner bio of Lincoln. Nathan Hart This is by no means a Lincoln bio. This is more of a study of the cultural changes revolutions that occurred before, during, and after the Civil …more This is by no means a Lincoln bio.
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This is more of a study of the cultural changes revolutions that occurred before, during, and after the Civil War. The essays that focus on Lincoln are framed with this context. I highly recommend it, but you may want to look elsewhere: Lists with This Book.
Mar 26, Randy rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Lincoln the Revolutionary, Lincoln the Crusader, the Visonary-- this collection of essays addresses a side of Lincoln that is largely overlooked while slapping down the Neo-Confederate Revisonists. Those who tout the Myth of The Confederacy As Heirs to a popular fable here in the Commonwealth will read this book and shrilly denonounce it.
They will have however have to marshall something more than the "Standing up For Their Rights argument as McPherson allows the words of the Confederate Lincoln the Revolutionary, Lincoln the Crusader, the Visonary-- this collection of essays addresses a side of Lincoln that is largely overlooked while slapping down the Neo-Confederate Revisonists. They will have however have to marshall something more than the "Standing up For Their Rights argument as McPherson allows the words of the Confederates to speak for themselves. More importantly, he strips away the mythology surrounding Lincoln's actions and his goals and assesses them for what they were: Bring Bourbon - at once a revolution that overthrew the existing social and political order, and a fulfillment of the earlier Revolution's philosophical goals.
I used to assign this book as required reading in my American History classes. Go read it and find out why. Jul 06, Matt rated it really liked it Shelves: Some interesting points include: May 20, Sanju George rated it it was amazing. The challenge facing any author who wants to write about Abraham Lincoln is finding a way to say something new. By the time this book was published in the early 's, McPherson had already published Battle Cry of Freedom, a bestseller and Pulitzer Prize winner.
Battle Cry of Freedom is still widely regarded as this generation's definitive single-volume history of the Civil War, and The challenge facing any author who wants to write about Abraham Lincoln is finding a way to say something new.
Battle Cry of Freedom is still widely regarded as this generation's definitive single-volume history of the Civil War, and perhaps this book's appearance a short time later reflects a public demand for more of McPherson's work. Whatever the reasons for its publication, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution makes a valuable contribution to Lincoln studies and to Civil War studies generally.
It is not, mind you, a comprehensive Civil War history on the order of Battle Cry. Rather, it is a collection of seven essays, delivered and published in various scholarly venues between and ; and while McPherson assures us that he has worked to eliminate overlap among the essays, you will see a couple of quotes appearing multiple times. The common denominator that the essays share, an important one, is that all focus on Lincoln as war leader, and on the Civil War as a second American Revolution -- a conflict that, in bringing an end to slavery, fulfilled the promises of American liberty that had been set forth in the original American Revolution, four score and seven-odd years earlier.
Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution
The essays deal with topics such as Lincoln's leadership style, his beliefs regarding liberty, his strategy of compelling an unconditional Confederate surrender, and the way in which Lincoln's gift for language contributed to his political success. Two of the essays, "Lincoln and Liberty" and "Liberty and Power in the Second American Revolution," seem particularly applicable to the controversies of modern American life. More than once, McPherson invokes the British philosopher Isaiah Berlin's writings on negative liberty "freedom from" and positive liberty "freedom to" as he discusses the way in which American views on liberty changed during the Civil War era.
McPherson's writing style, as always, is mellifluous; his presentation of his evidence is meticulous; his arguments are persuasive.
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Sep 25, Timothy rated it really liked it. If you are interested in Civil War era History or Political Science this is a wonderful read its short may take you a couple days to a week s to read but offers not really an original but entertaining no Vampires look into the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War viewed as Americas Second Revolution.
Jan 25, Renay rated it really liked it. A wonderful analysis of the impact of Lincoln's presidency and decision making on American culture. Oct 29, David Kent rated it it was amazing Shelves: McPherson has in this short book provided a density of thought-provoking information unsurpassed by other scholars.
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The book consists of seven essays drawn from presentations and lectures McPherson has given to a variety of organizations. Each delves in its own way into the question of whether the Civil War was a second American revolution. He examines what revolution means, the idea of counterrevolution, the competing concepts of liberty held in the North and South, and even Lincoln as a hedgeh McPherson has in this short book provided a density of thought-provoking information unsurpassed by other scholars.
He examines what revolution means, the idea of counterrevolution, the competing concepts of liberty held in the North and South, and even Lincoln as a hedgehog surrounded by foxes. McPherson shows why he is considered one of the, if not the, expert on Civil War America. This is actually the third time I've read this book.
The first was soon after it was published in I then read it again in , and now again as part of a book discussion group in the Lincoln Group of DC. Each time I've learned more. Nov 11, Daniel Silliman rated it it was amazing. This is a lovely little book of essays. James McPherson, an preeminent Civl War historian, thinks aloud about the question, what was at stake in the Civil War? What was at stake in the fundamental character of America? He finds the answer in Lincoln's political philosophy, his understanding of the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, his rhetoric, and the decisions he made, prosecuting the war.
The answer to "what was at stake? Lincoln's vision of the promise of America is deeply realistic, and yet stubbornly hopeful, that I really appreciate it, in times like these.
Nov 26, Maddy Martin rated it it was ok Shelves: Honestly, the formatting of this book was the most irritating thing about it. A bold font with long paragraphs. Very frustrating to read. That and the fact that this book was basically a composition of contradictory evidence with very little conclusions being reached through the evidence provided. It just gives you the background info and it's a LOT of background info and says, "well, here you go! May 06, Mike rated it really liked it Shelves: The essays look at specific aspects of Lincoln as President including his use of metaphors, his single-minded focus on complete victory in the War, and his views on liberty.
Great read for people with a deep Civil War or Lincoln background, but probably too heavy for anyone interested in a popular history. May 22, Ken Peters rated it really liked it. This is a collection of seven essays that explore Abraham Lincoln's approach to leadership, his far-reaching influence on American politics, and the the long-term implications of the American Civil War, which all represent the primary reasons I'm fascinated with the history of that conflict. To many, this would be a boring book; to me, it was a page-turner. Lincoln's leadership style provides a great many lessons, and the American Civil War has had an immeasurable impact on the character and pol This is a collection of seven essays that explore Abraham Lincoln's approach to leadership, his far-reaching influence on American politics, and the the long-term implications of the American Civil War, which all represent the primary reasons I'm fascinated with the history of that conflict.
Lincoln's leadership style provides a great many lessons, and the American Civil War has had an immeasurable impact on the character and politics of the United States that can be clearly seen to this day, which in turn affects the world in varying degrees. I love exploring such hinge-events in history, upon which so many things turn, and McPherson does an admirable job exploring it as one of the foremost historians for that period. Sep 13, Ben rated it really liked it. Worth reading for the Hedgehog and Fox essay alone. Feb 18, Christopher Blosser rated it liked it.
Clocking in at around pages, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution is a fairly quick read, offering seven thoughtful essays on the major themes in the thought and governance of Abraham Lincoln. I also found it to be good supplementary reading to McPherson's comprehensive survey Battle Cry of Freedom. There were two chapters which I found particularly interesting and educational — the first "Lincoln and Liberty", which examined the rival concepts of 'negative' liberty absence Clocking in at around pages, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution is a fairly quick read, offering seven thoughtful essays on the major themes in the thought and governance of Abraham Lincoln.
There were two chapters which I found particularly interesting and educational — the first "Lincoln and Liberty", which examined the rival concepts of 'negative' liberty absence of restraint, freedom from oppression and 'positive' liberty the freedom to do as assisted by power. The former concept characterized the original American revolution to which both the Union and the Confederacy laid claim, while Lincoln looked to the Declaration of Independence as inspiration to shift the emphasis to positive liberty and expand it to those who did not enjoy it previously, urging the "preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of ALL men, in ALL lands, everywhere … he who would be no slave, must consent to have no slave.
Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves. Conversely, Lincoln had only a year or so of formal schooling and was chiefly self-taught, his favorite books being Aesop's Fables , Pilgrim's Progress , William Shakespeare and the Bible. However, it was Lincoln's "defects in education which proved a benefit" and gave him something which Davis lacked: May 09, Jacob Lines rated it it was amazing Shelves: James McPherson knows Lincoln.
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This book, a collection of lectures about Lincoln and the Civil War, offers new views of Lincoln even for those that have already read a lot about him. And, after all of these views, Lincoln still emerges as a hero. McPherson begins with considering what a revolution is, and whether the Civil War was a revolution. He concludes that it was. It changed things dramatically. But then there was a counterrevolution after Reconstruction that undid much of what had been acc James McPherson knows Lincoln.
But then there was a counterrevolution after Reconstruction that undid much of what had been accomplished. The next question is who the revolutionaries were — Lincoln and his supporters, or the confederates? The confederates claimed the right to secede in part from the right of revolution recognized in the Declaration.
Lincoln repeatedly stated his goal of merely preserving the Union. But in reality, the rebels were not fighting for change but to preserve the status quo. And Lincoln, although he sought to simply conserve the Union at first, later changed the goals of the war to include the destruction of slavery. On top of that, we need to consider the astonishing blitz of new laws that Congress enacted and Lincoln signed. From the evidence, it is clear that Lincoln was the revolutionary. Another important topic covered is Lincoln and Liberty.
First, he was very clear in rejecting the southern view of liberty — the freedom to enslave another human without interference from others. He rejected the southern notion that liberty was intended only for whites. He believed the Declaration of Independence when it said that all men are created equal, and believed that the Framers agreed. Not only did he disagree with the slavers, but also with nativists who would deny liberty to immigrants. How did he justify suspending habeas corpus and allowing military courts to try civilians? At the risk of oversimplifying it, the answer is necessity.
As Lincoln explained, must he allow all the laws to go unenforced, except one? In other words, must he be bound to honor habeas corpus if doing so would mean the nation would cease to exist? The obvious answer should be no. Another chapter discusses how Lincoln set the overall national strategy of unconditional surrender while also trying to influence military strategy he was more successful in setting national strategy and why this was so vital to winning the war.
The final chapter explains the disappointing history of Reconstruction, as the American people lost their interest, and the Republican party retreated from its commitment to establish true liberty and equality for blacks in America. My verdict of the book: McPherson knows Lincoln like few others do. And he does a marvelous job of communicating that understanding.
Apr 23, Gary Hoggatt rated it it was amazing Shelves: McPherson draws together seven intriguing essays on Lincoln and the Civil War. The two main threads running through the essays are how the Civil War could really qualify as a revolution, given the massive transformative and and liberating effect it had on the United States, and how Lincoln lead the revolution, both philosophically and militarily. It's a very thought provoking and enjoyable collection.
McPherson makes a persuasive case that the Civil War resulted in changes as large as, and in some ways larger, than the American Revolution.
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The enormous change wrought be the liberation of the slaves is a major factor, of course, but so was the American regional balance of power shifting, as McPherson demonstrates, from the South to the North. Another revolutionary concept was how liberty itself was defined. Americans had always regarding liberty as "freedom from" government interference, but this concept of negative liberty was supplanted by a positive liberty approach that granted citizens "freedom to" their rights, and granted the federal government the power to enforce those rights.
Also covered is the counter-revolution as Reconstruction ceased and some gains were lost.