Abraham Lincoln: A Biography
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No other narrative account of Abraham Lincoln's life has inspired such widespread and lasting acclaim as Charnwood's Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. Written by a native of England and originally published in 1916, the biography is a rare blend of beautiful prose and profound historical insight. Charnwood's study of Lincoln's statesmanship introduced generations of Americans to the life and politics of Lincoln and the author's observations are so comprehensive and well-supported that any serious study of Lincoln must respond to his conclusions.
hardly credible to Englishmen that the grievance against which the South arose in such passionate revolt was so unsubstantial as it really was. On the other hand, the case of the North was not apprehended. How it came to pass, in the intricate and usually uninteresting play of American politics, that a business community, which had seemed pretty tolerant of slavery, was now at war on some point which was said to be and said not to be slavery, was a little hard to understand. Those of us who
military measure conducing to the suppression of rebellion. On the broader grounds on which we naturally look at this measure, many people in the North had, as we have seen, been anxious from the beginning that he should adopt an active policy of freeing Southern slaves. It was intolerable to think that the war might end and leave slavery where it was. To convert the war into a crusade against slavery seemed to many the best way of arousing and uniting the North. This argument was reinforced by
declared plainly that he was ready to break the law in minor matters rather than let the whole fabric of law go to ruin. This, however, does not prove that he was insincere when he pleaded legal as well as moral justification; he probably regarded the Constitution in a manner which modern lawyers find it difficult to realise; he probably applied in construing it a principle such as Hamilton laid down for the construction of statutes, that it was “qualified and controlled” by the Common Law and by
Grande and Spanish settlers inhabited both sides. Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor, who was allowed no discretion in the matter, to march troops right up to the Rio Grande and occupy a position commanding the encampment of the Mexican soldiers there. The Mexican commander, thus threatened, attacked. The Mexicans had thus begun the war. Polk could thus allege his duty to prosecute it. When the whole transaction was afterwards assailed his critics might be tempted to go, or represented as going,
taking the revenue officers into State service. Commissioners had previously gone from South Carolina to Washington to request the surrender of the forts, upon terms of payment for property; they now declared that Anderson’s withdrawal, as putting him in a better position for defence, was an act of war, and demanded that he should be ordered to retire to the mainland. Buchanan wavered; decided to yield to them on this last point; ultimately, on the last day of 1860, yielded instead to severe