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Grant's autobiography was published in the year he died it caused a sensation, and was universally acclaimed. Lee still held the eye of the public. When Oliver Wendell Holmes gave his Memorial Day address in , and spoke the immortal line "In our youth our hearts were touched with fire", Lincoln was not mentioned.
This is not to say, of course, that Lincoln had been forgotten. Nevins' point is that the country was still too close in time to forget any of these men, or to lose the detailed memories of the myriad events and personages which had defined what the country had been through.
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- The Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln by Abraham Lincoln.
- The Life of Abraham Lincoln - Preface (by Henry Ketcham).
With passing time, however, the more minor players on that stage faded, and one came to dominate the others, indeed to tower above them. In his essay Nevins traces the development of Lincoln's ideas, character, and moral qualities by referring to key examples of his writing all contained in the volume at various stages of his life.
He refers to three different stages of this development: i Lincoln's early years in the public eye exemplified by his letter to Williamson Durley on the Texas question ; ii the development of Lincoln's "faculty of close-textured and irresistibly logical reasoning", which Nevins sees dramatized by Lincoln's speech in Peoria on October 16, , when he answered Stephen Douglas's Springfield defense of the Kansas-Nebraska Act; and a "final stage", in which he sees "a Lincoln who superadded to special moral qualities and special force of reasoning a spiritual quality which not even the great Edmund Burke had ever possessed.
There's no doubt that this essay is very much a personal view of Mr. It is rather nicely done, however, and provides an appropriate introduction to the section containing the writings themselves. It's pages long, so it does have some substance. It is not an academic biography. By that I mean, it does not contain referential footnotes for the facts stated, and it thus does not contain arguments for viewpoints that could have been controversial at the time.
It's just a plain vanilla summary of what was understood about Lincoln's life in the late s. It is possible that there are things expressed in the essay that would have been objected to by other historians at that time, I frankly wouldn't know. Stern was the one chosen to edit the book and provide the biography, so presumably he felt he had a rather free reign to put the cast on this essay that he deemed correct. Since new evidence and new interpretations of old evidence are constantly being brought forth, there may be additional aspects of the essay that have become controversial or even completely dated by now.
Congress The Presidential campaign of The beginning of the end Plots and counterplots Victory and peace "Night and day journeys a coffin" Following the essay itself is a 25 page Chronology. The writings presented are about in number, stretching to over pages. Every item is introduced with remarks which provide historical and political context. These range from a sentence or two most longer to over a page. The selections themselves range from brief one paragraph letters to major excerpts from addresses.
I think it fair here to present a somewhat arbitrary selection of the items included, from among those that are more than one or two pages long. Hopefully these will help any Goodreader perusing this section to decide whether the book would be of interest.
In each case the number in parentheses is the length in pages of the entry, including the introductory material. The Gettysburg Address itself is one page. This lists the items written by Lincoln in categories, such as Addresses, Letters Military, Personal, etc. It also includes a section titled "Lincoln, Abraham, the Life of" which is a very brief index to the biography by Stern, too brief to be of much use.
This book was originally published in as a Modern Library Giant. The Modern Library series was published by Random House.
Catalog Record: The writings of Abraham Lincoln | HathiTrust Digital Library
All the books were published as hardbacks; I am not aware that any included dust jackets. The edition I am reviewing is this edition, which however must have been reprinted at various times up to the time that I bought it sometime in the 60s or 70s. A picture of the front cover of this book shows what they all looked like: a plain dark colored cover various colors , imprinted with an image of a running torchbearer "the Promethean bearer of enlightenment" created by Lucian Bernhard in The spine of the book contained the title and another imprint of the iconic image.
The Modern Library is still or more accurately, once again being published. I do not know if all the books that were published in the early days have been reproduced in more recent editions, but this Lincoln book has. It is available in both paperback and hardback editions, also as an eBook. The hardback edition appears to be identical in content to my edition. It has exactly the same number of pages. View all 8 comments. They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world.
The Entire Writings of Lincoln by Abraham Lincoln - Full Text Free Book (Part 1/36)
You will find that all the arguments in favor of kingcraft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people—not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. The first i They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. The second is a collection of his writings, both speeches and letters. Thus, the life, and the writings. The Life of Abraham Lincoln Judging from the prefatory matter, the biography was written around to Some officials who opposed Lincoln remained in their offices, so as to send information to the South.
And when extremists attempted violence, they still tried to pin it on Republicans, as Stephen A. Does it not now hold and proclaim the same creed that it did before the invasion? I am glad that they do so; I am rejoiced that they have gone thus far; but I must be permitted to say to them that it is not sufficient that they disavow the act, unless they also repudiate and denounce the doctrines and teachings which produced the act. Those doctrines remain the same; those teachings are being poured into the minds of men throughout the country by means of speeches and pamphlets and books, and through partizan presses.
The terms are different, but Douglas is basically railing against hate speech, defining hate speech as disagreeing with him on slavery, in this case , and, in fact, suggesting not just that people should refrain from such divisive speech but that such speech should carry criminal penalties. Armed groups from both sides were going to Kansas to either keep slavery out or make sure it got in; and when the vote came to elect a legislature, Democrats crossed the border to vote illegally in that election, so as to ensure a pro-slavery legislature.
They also wanted to revive the slave trade—legally, as it still existed illegally. Let us be diverted by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored—contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong: vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man… The Writings of Abraham Lincoln The second part of the book, and the majority of it pages , is the amazing part. It outlines just how hard Lincoln tried to avoid war, and then to end it peacefully, even at the expense of maintaining slavery in the states where it already existed—as long as slavery were not introduced into any new territories and as long as the slave trade remained illegal.
He believed that as long as it did not become entrenched in all the states, slavery would eventually end in all states. Both the letters and the speeches are fascinating. Also amazing is how, in his speeches, Lincoln would say something deeply prejudiced, but then go on to conclude with something completely right: I protest against the counterfeit logic which concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife.
I need not have her for either. I can just leave her alone. In some respects she certainly is not my equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of anyone else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others. Or: I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.
I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects—certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment.
But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man.
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Lincoln has prejudices and principles, but his principles override his prejudices. Even publicly he argues unequivocally that the Declaration of Independence must include blacks or it includes nobody—in fact, according to Lincoln, Stephen Douglas had already gone so far as to say it only included whites from England, excluding everyone else, white or any other color. Lincoln responded with: Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man, this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position.
Let us discard all these things, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal. But he could also have meant the word in its more modern form of classical liberalism. The principles he espouses, the ones that allow him to overcome his prejudices, are the same that conservatives today call their own, such as when he argues continually in favor of the right to keep the bread you earn during the Lincoln-Douglas debates: It is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world.
They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another, but let him work diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.
And in an address to an Indiana regiment, says: I always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves, it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever I hear any one arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. A civil war as deadly as ours, on a topic of such importance, will by its nature be an immensely important part of our history. Jul 16, Chris Gager rated it really liked it. Someone gave me this or a book very much like this when I was a kid, though it had to be a much earlier edition, of course.