Lincoln President-Elect by Harold Holzer
Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861

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Synopsis

One of our most eminent Lincoln scholars, winner of a Lincoln Prize for his Lincoln at Cooper Union, examines the four months between Lincoln's election and inauguration, when the president-elect made the most important decision of his coming presidency -- there would be no compromise on slavery or secession of the slaveholding states, even at the cost of civil war.

Abraham Lincoln first demonstrated his determination and leadership in the Great Secession Winter -- the four months between his election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861 -- when he rejected compromises urged on him by Republicans and Democrats, Northerners and Southerners, that might have preserved the Union a little longer but would have enshrined slavery for generations. Though Lincoln has been criticized by many historians for failing to appreciate the severity of the secession crisis that greeted his victory, Harold Holzer shows that the presidentelect waged a shrewd and complex campaign to prevent the expansion of slavery while vainly trying to limit secession to a few Deep South states.

During this most dangerous White House transition in American history, the country had two presidents: one powerless (the president-elect, possessing no constitutional authority), the other paralyzed (the incumbent who refused to act). Through limited, brilliantly timed and crafted public statements, determined private letters, tough political pressure, and personal persuasion, Lincoln guaranteed the integrity of the American political process of majority rule, sounded the death knell of slavery, and transformed not only his own image but that of the presidency, even while making inevitable the war that would be necessary to make these achievements permanent.

Lincoln President-Elect is the first book to concentrate on Lincoln's public stance and private agony during these months and on the momentous consequences when he first demonstrated his determination and leadership. Holzer recasts Lincoln from an isolated prairie politician yet to establish his greatness, to a skillful shaper of men and opinion and an immovable friend of freedom at a decisive moment when allegiance to the founding credo "all men are created equal" might well have been sacrificed.
 

About Harold Holzer

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Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, serves as chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He has authored, coauthored, and edited forty-two books, including Emancipating Lincoln, Lincoln at Cooper Union, and three award-winning books for young readers: Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons, The President Is Shot!, and Abraham Lincoln, the Writer. His awards include the Lincoln Prize and the National Humanities Medal. He lives in New York City.
 
Published October 21, 2008 by Simon & Schuster. 641 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Had it not been for his “right makes might” speech on Feb. 27, 1860, at New York’s Cooper Union college, Abraham Lincoln might well have remained a rustic lawyer and back-country raconteur.

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Kirkus Reviews

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On New Year’s Day 1863, Lincoln steadied himself before signing the document whose culture-changing significance he well understood: “If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.” Today Lincoln’s image as “the Great Emancipator” has eroded—too politically...

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Kirkus Reviews

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From his inauguration to his assassination, Lincoln fulfilled the role of commander in chief so skillfully as to become a model for succeeding presidents—reason enough, Holzer (Lincoln and New York, 2009, etc.) argues, to understand clearly the Lincoln record.

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Kirkus Reviews

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Holzer, author and editor of numerous books on the Civil War and Lincoln (The Lincoln Mailbag, not reviewed, etc.), has assembled another collection for those with insatiable appetites for information about the 16th president.

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Kirkus Reviews

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Award-winning Lincoln scholar Holzer (Lincoln at Cooper Union, 2004, etc.) meticulously examines the ominous period between the 16th president’s election and his swearing in.

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The New York Times

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William Seward, the former political rival Lincoln had chosen to be secretary of state, and several other cabinet members urged the president to give in to that demand in hopes that it would preserve the peace and dissuade other slave states — especially Virginia and Maryland, which surrounded th...

Feb 06 2009 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

Publishers Weekly

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This illustrated volume, companion to the Library of Congress Bicentennial Exhibition, collects Lincolns' letters, speeches, pages from childhood notebooks, ruminations and reactions, including his inaugural addresses, his 1859 autobiographical sketch and his famous reply to a pre-Emancipation Pr...

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Publishers Weekly

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Holzer, who won a prize for his analysis of Lincoln’s 1860 speech at Cooper Union, now examines the Emancipation Proclamation.

Dec 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

Publishers Weekly

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Lincoln historian Holzer (Father Abraham: Lincoln and His Sons) offers a cogent young readers' companion to Steven Spielberg's film, Lincoln.

Dec 24 2012 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

Publishers Weekly

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Few people know more about Abraham Lincoln than Holzer (editor of Lincoln the Writer ;

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Publishers Weekly

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This award-winning anthology of letters written to President Lincoln throws light on the popular mood of the Civil War period.

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Publishers Weekly

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In an engrossing narrative, Holzer (Lincoln at Cooper Union ), chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, painstakingly retraces Lincoln's few public statements and numerous private initiatives during this key period, revealing an astute political operator assessing the situation, organizin...

Jul 28 2008 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

Deseret News

Harold Holzer — who has written 30 books on Abraham Lincoln — now takes a fascinating, new look at Lincoln's tricky time as president-elect.

Nov 09 2008 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

The New York Review of Books

Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860–1861.

Apr 09 2009 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

Carlin Romano

They include the television miniseries Sandburg's Lincoln, in 1974, which featured Hal Holbrook as Lincoln (in Spielberg's film, Holbrook plays Francis Preston Blair Sr., an adviser to the president known as "Lincoln's conservative"), and Lincoln, in 1988, with Sam Waterston in the title role.

Nov 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Lincoln President-Elect: Abra...

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