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1 Burnside US History- Lincoln, Abraham

Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power


Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power Cover

ISBN13: 9781400044566
ISBN10: 1400044561
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An original and deeply insightful biography of Abraham Lincoln, already awarded the prestigious Lincoln Prize.

As a defender of national unity, a leader in war, and the emancipator of slaves, Abraham Lincoln lays ample claim to being the greatest of our presidents. But the story of his rise to greatness is as complex as it is compelling. In this superb biography, the highly regarded Oxford University historian Richard Carwardine examines Lincoln both in his dramatic political journey and in his nation-shaping White House years. Through his groundbreaking research, Carwardine probes the sources of Lincolns moral and political philosophy. We see how, while pursuing office, Lincoln drew strength from public opinion and the machinery of his party. We see him, as a wartime president, recognizing the limits as well as the possibilities of power, and the necessity of looking for support beyond his own administration. We see how he turned to the churches, to their humanitarian agencies, and to the volunteer Union Army for allies in his struggle to end slavery.

In illuminating the political talents that went hand in hand with large and serious moral purpose, Carwardine gives us a fresh, important portrait of the incomparable Abraham Lincoln.

Book News Annotation:

Carwardine (American history, Oxford U.) received the Lincoln Award--the first British scholar to do so--for this biography, originally published in 2003 by Pearson/Longman. Half of it addresses Lincoln's (1809-65) career and the roots of his political ambition before he became president of the US.
Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Book News Annotation:

Carwardine (American history, Oxford U.) received the Lincoln Award--the first British scholar to do so--for this biography, originally published in 2003 by Pearson/Longman. Half of it addresses Lincoln's (1809-65) career and the roots of his political ambition before he became president of the US. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


This original and insightful biography of Abraham Lincoln has already been awarded the prestigious Lincoln Prize.

About the Author

Richard Carwardine, the Rhodes Professor of American History at Oxford University, is the first British scholar to be awarded the Lincoln Prize, the largest award in the United States for nineteeth-century American history. His previous work includes Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America. He lives in Oxford.

Table of Contents


1. Inner Power: Lincolns Ambition and Political Vision, 1809-54

2. The Power of Opinion: Lincoln, the Illinois Public, and the New Political Order, 1854-58

3. The Power of Party:Winning the Presidency, 1858-60

4. The Limits of Power: From President-Elect to War President, 1860-61

5. The Purposes of Power: Evolving Objectives, 1861-65

6. The Instruments of Power: Coercion and Voluntary Mobilization, 1861-65

7. The Potency of Death



Further Reading

Chronology of Lincolns Life

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OneMansView, December 20, 2008 (view all comments by OneMansView)
An extraordinary man

This book is concerned with how a man of such humble background was so successful in managing his political career, beginning in the middle 1830s, as well as leading the nation in by far the greatest crisis that it has ever endured. The author is not concerned with typical biographical details of Lincoln’s life. It is Lincoln’s character and personality, his strong desire to succeed and make a name for himself, his knack of correctly reading people and the broader society, his ability to appeal to disparate social and political elements, his pragmatic and sure-handed approach concerning his own affairs as well as those of the nation, his deliberate yet firm decision-making – these are the author’s focus.

The 1850s were an extremely turbulent time in American history with issues of slavery, abolitionism, immigration, and nativism dominating. Political parties ranging from the long-entrenched Democrats, the disintegrating Whigs, the short-lived Free Soilers and the Know-Nothings, and the newly emergent Republicans, all with their sub-variants, had to contend with those matters. Protestantism, both old-line and evangelical, and Catholicism cut across all the parties as well as the issues.

It was Sen. Stephen Douglas’ idea of allowing the extension of slavery into Federal territories using the guise of popular sovereignty that ignited an already volatile political situation and renewed Lincoln’s interest in politics in 1854. For Lincoln, a Henry Clay Whig, evangelicals, abolitionists, and others, this turn of events constituted an unconscionable violation of the principles and policies set forth by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It is during this period that Lincoln demonstrates to those in his home state of Illinois and then the nation that he had not only the intellectual and moral capacity to counter Douglas but also the practical ability to help create a broad-based Republican Party to find political solutions for these contentious issues.

As the author shows, the difficulties faced by Lincoln as President were immediate and scarcely to be believed. How should the secession of seven Southern states be regarded and what actions should be taken? Lincoln had to walk a tightrope his entire Presidency in trying to be true to his moral purposes of saving the Union and altering the institution of slavery, if not eliminating it, keeping the public energized, and satisfying both the radicals and conservatives of his party, as well as keeping War Democrats and border state loyalists happy while not letting the Peace Democrats undermine him. When it became obvious to Lincoln that slavery would have to be directly addressed, his careful handling of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, in the context of rampant Northern and Southern racism, kept the war effort on track.

The author notes the religiosity of American society during this period and its connection to the moral, high-mindedness of the Puritans. Lincoln, though not a rigid believer, constantly appealed to the moral sensitivities of the public throughout the War. He also spoke of a higher power guiding him and overseeing the resolution of this horrific conflict. Despite those views, there was no passivity in his Presidency. There was an overwhelming sense of purpose to align the nation with the principles of the founding.

This book clearly demonstrates that Lincoln was a remarkable man. He had the courage, self-discipline, and confidence that only a man can have who has worked hard for what he can do and knows. Lincoln exerted his immense skills and perceptions so subtly that many of his time scarcely knew of his exceptionality. Average citizens regarded Lincoln as one of them, yet there was a sense of his extraordinary kindness and wisdom. He came to be known as Father Abraham among Union soldiers. It is amazing that a man of Lincoln’s disposition and capabilities came on the scene at the most critical time in our nation’s history.
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Product Details

Carwardine, Richard
Knopf Publishing Group
Historical - U.S.
Presidents & Heads of State
United States - History - Civil War, 1861-
Presidents -- United States.
Biography-Presidents and Heads of State
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.50x6.62x1.48 in. 1.72 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Presidents and Heads of State
History and Social Science » Military » Civil War » General
History and Social Science » US History » 1800 to Civil War
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Lincoln, Abraham
History and Social Science » US History » US Presidency

Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power Used Hardcover
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Product details 416 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9781400044566 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , This original and insightful biography of Abraham Lincoln has already been awarded the prestigious Lincoln Prize.
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