Synopses & Reviews
If Abraham Lincoln was known as the Great Emancipator, he was also the only president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Indeed, Lincoln's record on the Constitution and individual rights has fueled a century of debate, from charges that Democrats were singled out for harrassment to Gore Vidal's depiction of Lincoln as an "absolute dictator." Now, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Fate of Liberty
, one of America's leading authorities on Lincoln wades straight into this controversy, showing just who was jailed and why, even as he explores the whole range of Lincoln's constitutional policies.
Mark Neely depicts Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus as a well-intentioned attempt to deal with a floodtide of unforeseen events: the threat to Washington as Maryland flirted with secession, disintegrating public order in the border states, corruption among military contractors, the occupation of hostile Confederate territory, contraband trade with the South, and the outcry against the first draft in U.S. history. Drawing on letters from prisoners, records of military courts and federal prisons, memoirs, and federal archives, he paints a vivid picture of how Lincoln responded to these problems, how his policies were actually executed, and the virulent political debates that followed. Lincoln emerges from this account with this legendary statesmanship intact--mindful of political realities and prone to temper the sentences of military courts, concerned not with persecuting his opponents but with prosecuting the war efficiently. In addition, Neely explores the abuses of power under the regime of martial law: the routine torture of suspected deserters, widespread antisemitism among Union generals and officials, the common practice of seizing civilian hostages. He finds that though the system of military justice was flawed, it suffered less from merciless zeal, or political partisanship, than from inefficiency and the friction and complexities of modern war.
Informed by a deep understanding of a unique period in American history, this incisive book takes a comprehensive look at the issues of civil liberties during Lincoln's administration, placing them firmly in the political context of the time. Written with keen insight and an intimate grasp of the original sources, The Fate of Liberty offers a vivid picture of the crises and chaos of a nation at war with itself, changing our understanding of this president and his most controversial policies.
About the Author
Mark E. Neely
is Director of the Lincoln Museum, and is the author of The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia
and coauthor of The Lincoln Image
, and other books on the Civil War era.
Table of Contents
Part One: Identities Real and Imagined
Introduction: Identity and Visibility.
1. The Pathologizing of Identity.
2. The Political Critique.
3. The Philosophical Critique.
4. Real Identities.
Part Two: Gender Identity and Gender Differences
5. The Identity Crisis in Feminist Theory.
6. The Metaphysics of Gender and Sexual Difference.
Part Three: Racialized Identities and Racist Subjects
7. A Phenomenology of Racial Embodiment.
8. Racism and Visible Race.
9. The Whiteness Question.
Part Four: Latino/a Particularity
10. Latinos and the Categories of Race.
11. Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Black-White Binary.
12. On Being Mixed.