The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery

Eric Foner

Language: English

Pages: 448

ISBN: 039334066X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

“A masterwork [by] the preeminent historian of the Civil War era.”―Boston Globe

Selected as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times Book Review, this landmark work gives us a definitive account of Lincoln's lifelong engagement with the nation's critical issue: American slavery. A master historian, Eric Foner draws Lincoln and the broader history of the period into perfect balance. We see Lincoln, a pragmatic politician grounded in principle, deftly navigating the dynamic politics of antislavery, secession, and civil war. Lincoln's greatness emerges from his capacity for moral and political growth. 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations; 3 maps














conference lasted for several hours and the participants agreed not to take notes. They all eventually recorded accounts of what had transpired, which generally coincide although they differ on some significant points. Seward and Stephens rambled on about the Monroe Doctrine and Blair舗s Mexican scheme until Lincoln became impatient and made clear he had no interest in the idea. Lincoln insisted that no consideration of 舠terms and conditions舡 could take place until the Confederacy recognized

Historical Quarterly, 18 (Summer, 1959), 255舑70; Don E. Fehrenbacher, Lincoln in Text and Context (Stanford, 1987), 153舑54; CW, 7: 108, 155, 161. 66. Andrew Johnson to Lincoln, September 17, 1863; Horace Maynard to Lincoln, February 2, 1864; John S. Brien to Lincoln, January 30, 1864, all in ALP; Eric Foner, Reconstruction: America舗s Unfinished Revolution, 1863舑1877 (New York, 1988), 44; CW, 7: 209; 8: 58. 67. Foner, Reconstruction, 176; John Cimprich, Slavery舗s End in Tennessee, 1861舑1865

had assisted the family. Lincoln did not mind working with Linder, an extreme anti-abolitionist, as co-counsel. He took a position at odds with recent precedents throughout the northern states. As Frederick Douglass noted about this case (without mentioning Lincoln by name), 舠We should suppose that this whole subject had been rendered so clear by repeated decisions, all going to confirm the same principle, that not another case of the kind would ever again come up.舡34 Lincoln舗s willingness to

equal; but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of all others.舡 Lincoln also directly confronted Douglas on the charge that by speaking of blacks enjoying any rights at all, Republicans promoted 舠amalgamation舡舒that is, interracial sexual relations. In fact, Lincoln responded, it was slavery that produced such mixing. He noted sardonically that by returning the Scotts舗 two teenage daughters to

and he observed closely their method of confinement and their behavior. This letter is one of very few at any point in his life in which Lincoln muses on cruel punishments and the uprooting and separation of families舒the concrete reality to which black men, women, and children were subjected. One cannot read the letter without a sense of revulsion at what the slaves experienced. Yet whether he did not wish to offend an owner of slaves, or his melancholy at the time affected his thinking, or his

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