By James M. McPherson
James McPherson has emerged as one in every of America's best historians. Battle Cry of Freedom, his Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Civil conflict, used to be a countrywide bestseller that Hugh Brogan, in The ny instances ebook Review, referred to as "history writing of the top order." In that quantity, McPherson accrued within the large sweep of occasions, the political, social, and cultural forces at paintings in the course of the Civil struggle period. Now, in Abraham Lincoln and the second one American Revolution, he bargains a chain of considerate and fascinating essays on points of Lincoln and the conflict that experience not often been mentioned in depth.
McPherson back monitors his prepared perception and sterling prose as he examines numerous severe subject matters in American heritage. He seems heavily on the President's function as Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces, exhibiting how Lincoln solid a countrywide army approach for victory. He explores the significance of Lincoln's nice rhetorical talents, uncovering how--through parables and figurative language--he was once uniquely capable of speak either the aim of the conflict and a brand new which means of liberty to the folk of the North. In one other part, McPherson examines the Civil warfare as a moment American Revolution, describing how the Republican Congress elected in 1860 handed an stunning blitz of recent legislation (rivaling the 1st hundred days of the hot Deal), and the way the conflict not just destroyed the social constitution of the previous South, yet extensively altered the stability of strength in the USA, finishing 70 years of Southern strength within the nationwide government.
The Civil battle used to be the only such a lot remodeling and defining adventure in American background, and Abraham Lincoln is still an important determine within the pantheon of our mythology. those swish essays, written via certainly one of America's top historians, supply clean and strange views on either.
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Extra resources for Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution
Union invasion of the Confederacy and the destruction of southern war industries and transportation facilities, the abolition of slavery, the wastage of southern livestock, and the killing of one-quarter of the South’s white male population of military age made an economic desert of large areas of the South. While the total value of northern wealth increased by 50 percent during the 1860s, southern wealth decreased by at least 60 percent. In 1860 the South’s share of national wealth was 30 percent; in 1870 it was only 12 percent.
A few statistics will illustrate the point. When slavery was abolished, about 90 percent of the black population was illiterate. By 1880 the rate of black illiteracy had been reduced to 70 percent, and by 1900 to less than 50 percent. From the perspective of today, this may seem like minimal progress. The illiteracy of almost half the black population in 1900, compared with less than a tenth of the white population, may seem shameful. But viewed from the standpoint of 1865 the rate of literacy for blacks increased by 200 percent in fifteen years and by 400 percent in thirty-five years.
23 Or let us look at the economic condition of the freed slaves in the generation after emancipation. This is the issue that has attracted most of the attention of historians who deny the existence of meaningful change. The grim reality of sharecropping and rural poverty in the South seems at first glance to confirm their argument. But studies of the economic consequences of emancipation by Roger Ransom and Richard Sutch provide evidence for a different conclusion. In the first place, Ransom and Sutch point out, the abolition of slavery represented a confiscation of about three billion dollars of property—the equivalent as a proportion of national wealth to at least three trillion dollars in 1990.