Lincoln's rise to the presidency /
William C. Harris.
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c2007.
xii, 412 p. : ill., ports.
0700615202 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780700615209 (cloth : alk. paper)
More Details
Lawrence : University Press of Kansas, c2007.
0700615202 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780700615209 (cloth : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. 377-382) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-02-01:
Returning to Springfield, Illinois, after a single undistinguished term as US representative, Abraham Lincoln resumed practicing law. In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act returned him to politics, and within seven years he won election as president. These years receive careful scrutiny from Harris (emer., North Carolina State Univ.), author of previous studies of Lincoln's final days as president (e.g., With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union, CH, Oct'97, 35-1091). Although twice defeated for a seat in the US Senate, Lincoln achieved ascendancy in the new Illinois Republican Party and national standing that propelled him to a presidential nomination in 1860. Harris retells a story hardly obscure, but with a wealth of detail from newly accessible documents and with distinctive emphasis upon a conservative, politically adroit Lincoln. He balanced hatred of slavery and ambition for its ultimate extinction against respect for its constitutional guarantees, and distaste for nativism against his goal of uniting disparate elements in the nascent Republican Party. Specialists will enjoy Harris's occasional sniping at other scholars, but all will learn from his detailed analysis of Lincoln's strategies. Harris portrays a shrewd, eloquent master politician who deserved rather than stumbled into the White House. Summing Up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries. J. Y. Simon Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, February 2008
Wall Street Journal, May 2008
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Main Description
Adopting a new approach to an American icon, an award-winning scholar reexamines the life of Abraham Lincoln to demonstrate how his remarkable political acumen and leadership skills evolved during the intense partisan conflict in pre-Civil War Illinois. By describing Lincolns rise from obscurity to the presidency, William Harris shows that Lincolns road to political success was far from easy-and that his reaction to events wasnt always wise or his racial attitudes free of prejudice. Although most scholars have labeled Lincoln a moderate, Harris reveals that he was by his own admission a conservative who revered the Founders and advocated "adherence to the old and tried." By emphasizing the conservative bent that guided Lincolns political evolution-his background as a Henry Clay Whig, his rural ties, his cautious nature, and the racial and political realities of central Illinois-Harris provides fresh insight into Lincolns political ideas and activities and portrays him as morally opposed to slavery but fundamentally conservative in his political strategy against it. Interweaving aspects of Lincolns life and character that were an integral part of his rise to prominence, Harris provides in-depth coverage of Lincolns controversial term in Congress, his re-emergence as the leader of the antislavery coalition in Illinois, and his Senate campaign against Stephen A.Douglas. He particularly describes how Lincoln organized the antislavery coalition into the Republican Party while retaining the support of its diverse elements, and sheds new light on Lincolns ongoing efforts to bring Know Nothing nativists into the coalition without alienating ethnic groups. He also provides new information and analysis regarding Lincolns nomination and election to the presidency, the selection of his cabinet, and his important role as president-elect during the secession crisis of 1860-1861. Challenging prevailing views, Harris portrays Lincoln as increasingly driven not so much by his own ambitions as by his antislavery sentiments and his fear for the republic in the hands of Douglas Democrats, and he shows how the unique political skills Lincoln developed in Illinois shaped his wartime leadership abilities. By doing so, he opens a window on his political ideas and influences and offers a fresh understanding of this complex figure.
Table of Contents
From log cabin to Springfieldp. 7
Whig Congressman from the prairie statep. 29
Political revival, 1850-1856p. 58
"He is as honest as he is shrewd"p. 84
The great debatesp. 112
Republican champion of the great Westp. 151
"Honest Abe" for Presidentp. 176
Campaign and electionp. 220
Cabinet makingp. 248
"Hold firm, as with a chain of steel"p. 279
Train to Washingtonp. 302
Epilogue : inaugurationp. 324
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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