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Lincoln and the Decision for War : The Northern Response to Secession - Russell McClintock

Lincoln and the Decision for War

The Northern Response to Secession

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Published: 15th September 2010
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When Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 prompted several Southern states to secede, the North was sharply divided over how to respond. In this groundbreaking and highly praised book, McClintock follows the decision-making process from bitter partisan rancor to consensus. From small towns to big cities and from state capitals to Washington, D.C., McClintock highlights individuals both powerful and obscure to demonstrate the ways ordinary citizens, party activists, state officials, and national leaders interacted to influence the Northern response to what was essentially a political crisis. He argues that although Northerners' reactions to Southern secession were understood and expressed through partisan newspapers and officials, the decision fell into the hands of an ever-smaller group of people until finally it was Lincoln alone who would choose whether the future of the American republic was to be determined through peace or by sword. |When Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860 prompted several Southern states to secede, the North was sharply divided over how to respond. From small towns to big cities and from state capitals to Washington, D.C., McClintock highlights individuals both powerful and obscure to demonstrate the ways ordinary citizens, party activists, state officials, and national leaders interacted to influence the Northern response to what was essentially a political crisis. He argues that the decision fell into the hands of an ever-smaller group of people until finally it was Lincoln alone who would make the decision for war.

A substantial contribution. . . . A fine study that deserves to be read along with the work of Daniel Crofts, Kenneth Stampp, and David Potter.--Journal of Illinois History


[In Lincoln and the Decision for War], McClintock usefully changes the usual focus from Lincoln to a northern public worried about the possibility of war but uncertain how to avert it. . . . Intended to redress an oversight in scholarship, McClintock's study should find favor with general readers interested in the Civil War's immediate origins.--Booklist


McClintock understands . . . the complexity of what was happening in the slave states.--History News Network


[A] splendid study. . . . The success of McClintock's book lies not only in its welcome reconsideration of Republican policy but also in its highlighting the crying need for a modern treatment of the secession winter as a national crisis, a climax of decades of sectional dynamics across the North's and the South's porous political and physical borders.--Journal of Southern History


McClintock contributes greatly to Civil War scholarship and perhaps even helps Army officers understand the current political climate. . . . McClintock has truly mastered his subject.--Military Review


Reader[s] will revel in McClintock's attention to detail and presentation of his interpretation and information in this rich narrative. His ability to immerse the reader within the politics and personalities of the nineteenth century is skillful indeed. . . . Should be the one book that scholars and interested readers consult on the matter of Northern attitudes towards secession at the brink of the Civil War.--Virginia Libraries


McClintock transports the reader into the realm of antebellum American brinksmanship. . . . [A] satisfying account.--Civil War Times


A balanced and erudite examination of the secession crisis from the all too neglected northern political angle. . . . [This] deeply researched study promotes fresh interpretations and insights that are deserving of a wide readership. The literature of the secession winter is appreciably richer for its existence. Highly recommended.--Civil War Books and Authors


Those interested in better understanding Lincoln's role in the crucial period between his election and the call for volunteers in mid-April 1861 would do well to consult Russell McClintock's new book. . . . Does a fabulous job of uncovering the sense of contingency that existed throughout the nation in the early months.--Louisiana History


McClintock's well-written and brilliantly analyzed account is a most important contribution to the study of the Civil War. . . . Illuminates the immediate origins. . . . Provides an intimate understanding of the antebellum political system.--The McCormick Messenger


Ably researched and well-written.--Bowling Green Daily News


[A] highly readable, thoroughly researched, and welcome narrative. . . . McClintock's book has set a high standard--indeed, a Lincolnian one.--Civil War History


McClintock's vision of the period in which events led to a new president's decision to go to war to preserve a union is to comprehend the war, its causes and effects, more deeply, more complexly.--The Advocate


It is only through such books that we can begin to come to a new, fresher understanding of the origins of the Civil War and the role of northerners in that contest.--Journal of the Early Republic


[This] work should . . . be the beginning of a reappraisal.--The Journal of American History


Tells this story in a straightforward manner with minimum back tracking. . . . Informative and enjoyable.-- James Durney, independent Book Reviewer


[McClintock's] analysis is exceptionally clear and well written, easily accessible to the layperson as well as the scholar; it stimulates thought about the nature of leadership and crisis management.--Choice


Though McClintock's topic may not be new, his conclusions are. Lincoln and the Decision for War is an important contribution to our understanding of the causes of the American Civil War.--Military History of the West


This fine analytic book anatomizes the currents of need at the time, the efforts of the many varied cultures to cope with them and the results.--Journal of American Cultures


A worthy addition to Civil War scholarship.--H-Net Reviews


It is the rare reader who will not find this an eminently satisfactory book. McClintock has consulted an impressive range of primary sources to construct his narrative, illustrate his points, and support his analysis, and [he] demonstrates a solid grasp of secondary literature.--Journal of Illinois History


Indispensable for students of political history.--Georgia Historical Quarterly


Outstanding book.--Indiana Magazine of History


With deft strokes, McClintock describes the various competing concepts of union among Republicans, Democrats and others and discovers that in the end they agreed that representative democracy must oppose disunion or else self-government itself would be lost. . . . More than any other scholar, McClintock incisively shows that in the end the North and Lincoln simply could not let the South go. Highly recommended.--Library Journal, starred review


In telling the story so thoughtfully and with such attention to detail, this fine piece of scholarship certainly deserves to take its place alongside the familiar historiographical landmarks.--American Historical Review


A fine study.--Sean Wilentz, The New Republic


"Well-written, shows appreciation for the complexity of northern sentiment during the secession crisis, and treats the crisis for the essentially political drama it was.--Civil War Book Review

Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
On the Brink of the Precipice: The Election of 1860p. 14
I Would Not Endanger the Perpetuity of This Union: Novemberp. 30
Proportions of Which I Had but a Faint Conception: Early Decemberp. 60
The Issues of the Late Campaign Are Obsolete: Late Decemberp. 85
We Know Not What a Day or Two or an Hour May Bring Forth: December-Januaryp. 105
One's Opinions Change Fast in Revolutionary Times: January-Februaryp. 133
The Storm Is Weathered: January-February, Revisitedp. 165
A Calm Pervades the Political World: Marchp. 187
Any Decision Would Be Preferable to This Uncertainty: March-Aprilp. 226
Everbody Now Is for the Union: April-Mayp. 254
Conclusion: Shall It Be Peace, or a Sword?p. 275
Notesp. 281
Bibliographyp. 341
Indexp. 371
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780807871546
ISBN-10: 0807871540
Series: Civil War America
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 400
Published: 15th September 2010
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.6  x 2.49
Weight (kg): 0.58
Edition Type: New edition