Sunday, August 06, 2006

Abraham Lincoln: The One Great Republican

The following is a review of the book “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is about Abraham Lincoln. We at the Republican National Committee Blogspot wish to inform readers that Republicans have once elected a great President. Please ignore that in Lincoln’s second term he wasn’t the nominee of the Republican Party, and the fact that the Republicans have had a tough time since then in giving America decent Presidents. Honest, Republicans at the time thought Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover, Richard Nixon, and George Bush were great ideas to become President. OK, mistakes were made. But Republicans at least started out well with Lincoln, even if everything has fallen apart with Republicans since the 1860 elections.

Now the review:

This is a fascinating book that does more than grab the reader into learning about Abraham Lincoln and his impact in changing the course of history for the better. It also is a well researched presentation of the important Cabinet advisors who not only helped shape the outcome of the Civil War and the end of slavery, but shows how Lincoln had the wisdom and foresight to sculpt outcomes he desired. Lincoln did this in a unique manner, knowing how to position himself while using his rivals to work towards his common aim, with Lincoln slyly in control.

If Lincoln’s Presidency was an accident of fate, it was a fate that it turns out that Lincoln himself provided significant input. After all, he is the only one term Congressman who lost two races for the U.S. Senate to ever become President. Despite this seemingly lack of proper requisite for the job (not that this has ever been a barrier to being nominated by Republicans), Lincoln deliberately knew that by both eloquently and, importantly, honestly opposing the spread of slavery from a moral view, he would gain much respect as he toured the country in giving his thoughts on the idea. While the awkward looking man with the high pitched voice might have been overlooked as Presidential material, the rave reviews on his comments brought Lincoln to heightened public attention.

This book presents how Lincoln deliberately took what was then a moderate position on the slavery issue and, more important, avoided the code words that stirred the passions of the radicals yet would achieve the disapproval of the conservatives. This proved crucial, for while few Republican factions favored Lincoln for President, he was acceptable to the various factions. While Lincoln’s availability for the President was known, he was essentially viewed as a favorite son candidate from Illinois with strong support in neighboring Indiana. Astute political observers would have noted those were two critical battleground states that Republicans needed to carry in order to win, which would assist in Republican delegates turning to a candidate that could carry those two states. Yet, initially, Lincoln’s Presidential candidacy was not viewed as serious so Lincoln supporters were able to convince the Republicans to hold their 1860 nominating convention in the supposedly neutral city of Chicago, which allowed Illinois Republican to pack the audience with vocal Lincoln partisans to help convince delegates that Lincoln had great support.

The book provides a detailed portrait into the lives and thoughts not only of Lincoln’s, but of his opponents for the 1860 Presidential nomination. William Seward, the champion of the more radical anti-slavery faction, was the front runner, yet was unable to gain the support of a majority of the delegates. The two other main candidates, Salmon Chase and Edward Bates, had their followings but their bitter enemies as well. Chase avoided the rhetoric of Seward in hopes of appearing more acceptable to a wider range of delegates, yet factionalism and opposition form within his home state of Ohio severely harmed his candidacy. Bates had a stronger political background than Lincoln and was helped by the support of New York newspaper publisher Horace Greeley, but he was from the relatively small state of Missouri that offered little political pull at the convention. Greeley did help block the nomination of fellow New Yorker and early front runner Seward. In the clash of these titans of their era, the delegates turned to the one candidate that a majority could agree upon, a candidate who had always been in the Republican center (unlike his rivals who tried to reposition themselves in that center) and that was Lincoln.

President Lincoln later made the unusual, but wise move, to incorporate these opponents into his Cabinet. It is important to note that while Lincoln valued their advice, Lincoln incorporated them more to subjugate these factions under his leadership. Lincoln proved to be a commanding leader, especially for one with such limited previous government experience, which became critical in ultimately holding the neutrality of the border states, emancipating slavery permanently, and leading the Northern states to win the Civil War.

Pennsylvanians will note that Lincoln’s War Department was immensely improved upon the forced resignation of Pennsylvania Republican Simon Cameron as War Secretary. Cameron’s associates profited from supplying soldiers with shoddy pistols, blind horses, and inadequate supplies. It was not until Lincoln chose a Pennsylvania Democrat, Edwin Stanton, that the War Department began operating properly. Even Stanton’s choice at first seemed unusual, for he was from the opposition party. Yet even Lincoln realized he would need broad support for engaging the Southern states in war, and Stanton, although War Secretary under President Buchanan, had previously proven his loyalty to keeping the country united by providing President-elect Lincoln critical military and loyalty information which helped Lincoln plan for his upcoming Presidency. It would take a Pennsylvania Democrat to help save the Lincoln Presidency.

This book provides an excellent portrait of the life of Lincoln and how that life helped shaped the man who would bring an end to slavery. This book uniquely is a Lincoln biography, biography of the people who influenced Lincoln and his times, and a history of those times including critical background leading to important events. This is an outstanding of analysis of various aspects of Lincoln and his era. These were times that included a war that cost more American lives than all other American wars combined, and what up until then were the largest military operations in world history. It provides insightful analysis from an author who views Lincoln as man of much empathy, rather than melancholy as many other biographers concluded, and how that honest concern for others drove his life’s missions.


Post a Comment

<< Home