Lincoln Unattached

Thursday, January 26, 2006
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There is supposedly a new academic work that gives one a different, “unemotional” view of Lincoln as dictator.

Oxford professor Carwardine depicts Lincoln as both a canny politician and an earnest, if always pragmatic, reformer. He notes the multifaceted character that earlier biographers have described: strong ambition combined with appealing humility; strong ethical convictions combined with astuteness in reading and leading public opinion. Lincoln’s skill in connecting with Protestant religious sentiment, says the author, marshalled Northern support for the Civil War.

The study largely acquits Lincoln of the racial bigotry that some others have charged. Lincoln was a man of his time, and to some degree shared the prejudices of his era. Unlike many, however, he recognized a bond of common humanity that transcended race. He was never a hater. Through the course of his presidency, his views on race continued to mature.

Brit Richard Carwardine’s Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power appears to be yet another work in the same vein as his predecessors, yet, the reviewer is outraged that, at the book’s conclusion, Lincoln is not completely enshrined as the most extraordinary figure ever, leaving our said reviewer in a state of disbelief. Yet it appears that the author, instead of producing “another way of looking at Lincoln,” merely packages Lincoln as a “man of his times.”

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