Saturday, December 4, 2010

Douglas R. Egerton

Douglas R. Egerton is the author of Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War.

From his Q & A with Randy Dotinga of the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: During the Republican nomination race in 1860, Abraham Lincoln – a guy from the Midwest without much of a reputation – came out of nowhere to beat back the frontrunner, a New York senator who was later appointed secretary of state by his former rival. This scenario sounds really familiar for some reason.

A: I was writing a lot of this book in 2008, and when I read letters to Senator William Seward from his supporters, I felt like I was reading Hillary Clinton's mail.

People were saying things like "this isn't fair" and "I don't know who this skinny guy from Illinois is." One person wrote, "I shed bitter tears when I heard the news. I shall not lift a finger to elect him. Let those who chose him elect him."

The reality is after being deeply hurt and disappointed for about three weeks, Seward did finally contact Lincoln and campaign for him.

Q: You write that Lincoln was the most anti-slavery of the major candidates in the presidential election, but his position was nuanced and not targeted at immediately eliminating slavery in the South. Do you think he was even more opposed to slavery at heart but moderated his position in order to be politically sensible?

A: The vast majority of Republicans like Lincoln weren't abolitionists. They were mostly restrictionists, who wished to encircle slavery, keep it in the South and allow it to die slowly.

He was being a...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue