Father Abraham

Father Abraham : Lincoln's Relentless Struggle to End Slavery

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Lincoln is the single most compelling figure in our history, but also one of the most enigmatic. Was he the Great Emancipator, a man of deep convictions who ended slavery in the United States, or simply a reluctant politician compelled by the force of events to free the slaves? In "Father Abraham", Richard Striner offers a fresh portrait of Lincoln, one that helps us make sense of his many contradictions. Striner shows first that, if you examine the speeches that Lincoln made in the 1850s, you will have no doubt of his passion to end slavery. These speeches illuminate the anger, vehemence, and sheer brilliance of candidate Lincoln, who worked up crowds with charismatic fervor as he gathered a national following. But if he felt so passionately about abolition, why did he wait so long to release the Emancipation Proclamation? As Striner points out, politics is the art of the possible, and Lincoln was a consummate politician, a shrewd manipulator who cloaked his visionary ethics in the more pragmatic garb of the coalition-builder. He was at bottom a Machiavellian prince for a democratic age. When secession began, Lincoln used the battle cry of saving the Union to build a power base, one that would eventually break the slave-holding states forever. Striner argues that Lincoln was a rare man indeed: a fervent idealist and a crafty politician with a remarkable gift for strategy. It was the harmonious blend of these two qualities, Striner concludes, that made Lincoln's role in ending slavery so fundamental. "Father Abraham" challenges recent portraits of Lincoln as an essentially passive politician and reluctant abolitionist. Exhaustively researched and crisply argued, this superb book gives us a new appreciation of Lincoln as moral leader.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 160 x 236.2 x 30.5mm | 567g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195183061
  • 9780195183061

Review quote

"Striner's nuanced exploration of Lincoln's words and deeds makes a stimulating case for the greatness of his conscience--resolutely practical, but ever attuned to the better angels of his nature."--Publishers Weekly"In this estimable volume, Richard Striner effectively demolishes the fashionable myths of Lincoln the Reluctant Emancipator and Lincoln the White Supremacist.... Striner's readable account is not aimed at specialists, who will discover little new in it, but at the general reader, who will be impressed by the relentless way the author shows how relentless was Lincoln's struggle to end slavery."--Michael Burlingame, Washington Times"In contrast to historians and biographers who emphasize Lincoln's pragmatism at the expense of his idealism, or claim that he was a conservative on racial issues who was pushed against his will toward emancipation, Richard Striner presents him as an idealist who employed his superb political skills to further the cause of freedom. The fresh and provocative insights in this book demonstrate that despite all that has been written about Lincoln, there is still something new to learn."--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom"A provocative, richly detailed and exhaustively researched portrait of Lincoln as a zealous and lifelong opponent of slavery. Richard Striner presents a compelling counter-argument to those historians who claim Lincoln was a reluctant emancipator, and demonstrates convincingly that the fate of freedom was very much undecided until the North re-elected Lincoln."--Harold Holzer, author of Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Him President"Compellingly argued.... A worthy contribution to the ongoing debates about the life and work of Abraham Lincoln." --Myron A. Marty, St. Louis Post-Dispatch"A superb study of the Machiavellian Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was shrewd, political and disingenuous. This excellent volume stands on its head the view that Lincoln argued re-Union first, Emancipation second. Richard Striner's analysis demonstrates that Lincoln was more than a moderate in word and action."--Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and Chair of The Lincoln Forum"A brilliant and compelling account which reminds us that history, at its best, is a literary art. Reflecting deep understanding of the American political tradition, Striner's masterly study of Lincoln's statesmanship defies the conventions both of contemporary academic scholarship and political culture."--Herman Belz, Professor of History, University of Maryland"No one can come away from this book without being deeply affected by it. The writing is forceful and the narrative gripping. The reader stays by Lincoln's side throughout his career, thanks to Striner's gifts both for presenting a political historical panorama and for constantly foregrounding Lincoln."--Richard M. Valelly, American Historical Reviewshow more

About Richard Striner

Richard Striner is Professor of History at Washington College and is a Senior Writer with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission. He has written for numerous publications, including The Washington Post, The Smithsonian Institution Press, and William & Mary Quarterly.show more

Rating details

27 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 26% (7)
4 48% (13)
3 11% (3)
2 7% (2)
1 7% (2)
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