Catalogue


Emancipating Lincoln : the proclamation in text, context, and memory /
Harold Holzer.
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2012.
description
213 p., [28] p. of plates : ill. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
0674064402 (hbk. : alk. paper), 9780674064409 (hbk. : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2012.
isbn
0674064402 (hbk. : alk. paper)
9780674064409 (hbk. : alk. paper)
contents note
The bow of promise -- Emancipator versus pettifogger -- Sacred effigies.
catalogue key
8312346
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2011-12-12:
Holzer, who won a prize for his analysis of Lincoln's 1860 speech at Cooper Union, now examines the Emancipation Proclamation. The book, based on a series of lectures at Harvard in 2010, outlines Lincoln's approach to drafting the document and creating a climate for its acceptance; reactions to the text, especially the disappointment on the part of some that it lacked "grandeur or Book of Exodus fervor"; and changing depictions of it and of Lincoln, first as the Great Emancipator, later "generic hero of national unity," or simply a great leader. Tracing the history of the iconography of Lincoln and the Proclamation, Holzer deftly leads readers through American racial politics from the Civil War to the election of President Obama. Readers lacking Holzer's expertise could use more particulars on Lincoln's juggling of possible political ruin, the abolition of slavery, and the pursuit of Union victory. Images of the Proclamation and political cartoons shed light on the text and its reception in 1863. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Appeared in Library Journal on 2011-12-23:
In this readable and revealing book, renowned Lincoln scholar Holzer (senior vice president for external affairs, Metropolitan Museum of Art) investigates the process whereby Lincoln drafted, vetted, and presented the Emancipation Proclamation and also the ways people have come to understand and use the proclamation for myriad purposes. Especially important is Holzer's demonstration that Lincoln wrapped the proclamation's revolutionary promise in "leaden" legal language to ensure its Constitutionality and its palatability to loyal slaveholders, Northerners, and others still uneasy with the prospect of ending slavery. Also instructive is Holzer's examination of the Lincoln image as the "Great Emancipator" and the kneeling slave motif in picture, sculpture, and imagination, which images have contrasted with the more contested ones of Lincoln in print. Verdict The result is a book that through close textual analysis and attention to historical context gives the Emancipation Proclamation its due and shows Lincoln as a deft politician and prose master who understood how to fit the language to the moment and thereby realize a promise for all time. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn about how freedom came to be.-Randall M. Miller, Saint Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
Lincoln published a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862, warning Confederate states of his intention to issue a final edict on January 1... Holzer argue[s] persuasively that the progression of events during that critical autumn of the war were full of contingencies and that the final outcome was by no means certain...Provide[s] detailed and careful renderings of these events and of Lincoln's intellectual journey.
Tracing the history of the iconography of Lincoln and the Proclamation, Holzer deftly leads readers through American racial politics from the Civil War to the election of President Obama...Images of the Proclamation and political cartoons shed light on the text and its reception in 1863.
What emerges from Holzer's research is a portrait of Lincoln as a man of vision who was adept at manipulating the news media. He was also discreet, even with his friends (both political and personal)...Holzer describes Lincoln's care in selecting the proper words, the right timing and the right context to effect the enactment of the proclamation. The portrait that emerges is one of a leader able to build consensus during the development of an important policy and in the middle of a war.
In this readable and revealing book, renowned Lincoln scholar Holzer investigates the process whereby Lincoln drafted, vetted, and presented the Emancipation Proclamation and also the ways people have come to understand and use the proclamation for myriad purposes. Especially important is Holzer's demonstration that Lincoln wrapped the proclamation's revolutionary promise in "leaden" legal language to ensure its Constitutionality and its palatability to loyal slaveholders, Northerners, and others still uneasy with the prospect of ending slavery. Also instructive is Holzer's examination of the Lincoln image as the "Great Emancipator" and the kneeling slave motif in picture, sculpture, and imagination, which images have contrasted with the more contested ones of Lincoln in print. The result is a book that through close textual analysis and attention to historical context gives the Emancipation Proclamation its due and shows Lincoln as a deft politician and prose master who understood how to fit the language to the moment and thereby realize a promise for all time. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn about how freedom came to be.
As the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation approaches, Harold Holzer has given us a splendid book that provides essential historical framing for the document, its reception, and the trajectory of Abraham Lincoln's reputation as the Great Emancipator. A most enjoyable and informative read.
A succinct, readable, and essential guide to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
Holzer uncovers a complex, imperfect man who was guided by practical considerations as he struggled to both preserve and perfect the Union. A welcome, balanced, and necessary addition to Lincoln scholarship.
With a refreshing blend of analytical rigor and common sense, Harold Holzer places the Emancipation Proclamation in the context of its own time and circumstances, showing how Lincoln prepared public opinion for this controversial act, grounded it in his legal powers as commander in chief, and promoted its growing acceptance with eloquent paeans to freedom as a goal of the Civil War. This is a welcome new study of the Proclamation.
Holzer's tripartite narrative deals first with the historical context of the Proclamation, laying out Lincoln's exquisitely difficult political, legal, moral and martial calculations as he gradually widened his circle of confidants, labored to manipulate public opinion and slyly prepared the nation for his momentous decision. He spent months refining the announcement released after Antietam and steadfastly signed the promised executive order. The author then moves to a discussion of the Proclamation's rhetorical deficiencies (Richard Hofstadter said it contained "all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading"), explains why our most eloquent president wrote so uncharacteristically and points us to contemporaneous speeches and letters for the "poetic accompaniment" to what was, after all, preeminently a legal document. Finally, Holzer turns to the iconography surrounding Lincoln and emancipation, tracing images from the early kneeling-slave, peculiarly disconcerting to modern audiences, on through to treatments by contemporary artists such as Rauschenberg, Basquiat and Kara Walker. This visual evidence effectively underscores his larger point about our troublesome, still evolving understanding of the Proclamation's place in our history. A fine introduction to what promises in 2013 to become a nationwide discussion.
Emancipating Lincoln is a long-overdue contextual analysis of Lincoln's evolving emancipation program and its place in historical memory. Holzer, an authority on Lincoln..., pinpoints when, why and how the president moved toward freeing the slaves.
Holzer's book brilliantly and quite convincingly aims to restore Lincoln's place as a courageous American civil rights pioneer by considering the 16th president's actions, attitudes, and the Emancipation Proclamation itself within the political, military, and racial context of the time...In putting Lincoln's greatest achievement in historical context, Holzer has done the Emancipator, and historical scholarship in general, a valuable service.
Crucial insights into Lincoln's dodgy and downright dissembling strategy in formulating and promulgating the Proclamation during the darkest months of the Civil War are brightly illuminated by Harold Holzer on the eve of the document's 150th anniversary. Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, puts the fine points on the limited declaration, and embellishes the effect it produced through an excursion into the iconography, art and memorials depicting "The Great Emancipator."...In fusing the politics and the "art" of the Proclamation, Holzer adds handsomely to the Lincoln canon with this modest but highly insightful work.
This item was reviewed in:
Library Journal, December 2011
Publishers Weekly, December 2011
Boston Globe, March 2012
Kirkus Reviews, March 2012
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln's most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted. Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln's momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln's very modern manipulation of the media-from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation-in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his "greatest act" in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln's endeavor. Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln's efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln's obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans-white and black, leaders and constituents-toward freedom.
Main Description
Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln's most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted. Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln's momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln's very modern manipulation of the media'from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation'in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his 'greatest act' in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln's endeavor. Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln's efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln's obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans'white and black, leaders and constituents'toward freedom.
Bowker Data Service Summary
This volume seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty. Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln's efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln's obfuscations made is nearly impossible to discern his true motives.
Unpaid Annotation
Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln's most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted. Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln's momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln's very modern manipulation of the media-from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation- in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his 'greatest act' in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln's endeavor. Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln's efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln's obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans-white and black, leaders and constituents-toward freedom. -- Publisher description
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
The Bow of Promisep. 9
Emancipator versus Pettifoggerp. 75
Sacred Effigiesp. 129
Notesp. 175
Acknowledgmentsp. 199
Indexp. 203
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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