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Abraham Lincoln Summary

Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame (Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, University of Illinois-Springfield)

Hailed as the definitive portrait of the sixteenth president, Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame's impressive two-volume biography has been masterfully abridged and revised.

Sixteenth president of the United States, the Great Emancipator, and a surpassingly eloquent champion of national unity, freedom, and democracy, Abraham Lincoln is arguably the most studied and admired of all Americans. Michael Burlingame's astonishing Abraham Lincoln: A Life, an updated, condensed version of the 2,000-page two-volume set that The Atlantic hailed as one of the five best books of 2009, offers fresh interpretations of this endlessly fascinating American leader.

Based on deep research in unpublished sources as well as newly digitized sources, this work reveals how Lincoln's character and personality were the North's secret weapon in the Civil War, the key variables that spelled the difference between victory and defeat. He was a model of psychological maturity and a fully individuated man whose influence remains unrivaled in the history of American public life.

Burlingame chronicles Lincoln's childhood and early development, romantic attachments and losses, his love of learning, legal training, and courtroom career as well as his political ambition, his term as congressman in the late 1840s, and his serious bouts of depression in early adulthood. Burlingame recounts, in fresh detail, the Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln marriage and traces the mounting moral criticism of slavery that revived his political career and won this Springfield lawyer the presidency in 1860. This abridgement delivers Burlingame's signature insight into Lincoln as a young man, a father, and a politician.

Lincoln speaks to us not only as a champion of freedom, democracy, and national unity but also as a source of inspiration. Few have achieved his historical importance, but many can profit from his personal example, encouraged by the knowledge that despite a lifetime of troubles, he became a model of psychological maturity, moral clarity, and unimpeachable integrity. His presence and his leadership inspired his contemporaries; his life story will do the same for generations to come.

About Michael Burlingame (Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, University of Illinois-Springfield)

Michael Burlingame (MYSTIC, CT) is Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. He is the author or editor of several books about Lincoln, including Lincoln Observed: Civil War Dispatches of Noah Brooks; The Black Man's President: Abraham Lincoln, African Americans, and the Pursuit of Racial Equality; and An American Marriage: The Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd. Jonathan W. White (NEWPORT NEWS, VA) is an associate professor of American studies at Christopher Newport University. He has written and edited more than a dozen books on the Civil War era, including A House Built by Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House.

Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgments
1. I Have Seen a Good Deal of the Back Side of This World: Childhood in Kentucky (1809-1816)
2. I Used to be a Slave: Boyhood and Adolescence in Indiana (1816-1830)
3. Separated from His Father, He Studied English Grammar: New Salem (1831-1834)
4. A Napoleon of Astuteness and Political Finesse: Frontier Legislator (1834-1837)
5. We Must Fight the Devil With Fire: Slasher-Gaff Politico in Springfield (1837-1841)
6. It Would Just Kill Me to Marry Mary Todd: Courtship and Marriage (1840-1842)
7. I Have Got the Preacher by the Balls: Pursuing a Seat in Congress (1843-1847)
8. A Strong but Judicious Enemy to Slavery: Congressman Lincoln (1847-1849)
9. I Was Losing Interest in Politics and Went to the Practice of Law with Greater Earnestness Than Ever Before: Mid-Life Crisis (1849-1854)
10. Aroused As He Had Never Been Before: Reentering Politics (1854-1855)
11. Unite with Us, and Help Us to Triumph: Building the Illinois Republican Party (1855-1857)
12. A House Divided: Lincoln vs. Douglas (1857-1858)
13. A David Greater than the Democratic Goliath: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1858)
14. That Presidential Grub Gnaws Deep: Pursuing the Republican Nomination (1859-1860)
15. The Most Available Presidential Candidate for Unadulterated Republicans: The Chicago Convention (May 1860)
16. I Have Been Elected Mainly on the Cry 'Honest Old Abe': The Presidential Campaign (May-November 1860)
17. I Will Suffer Death Before I Will Consent to Any Concession or Compromise: President-elect in Springfield (1860-1861)
18. What If I Appoint Cameron, Whose Very Name Stinks in the Nostrils of the People for His Corruption?: Cabinet-Making in Springfield (1860-1861)
19. The Man Does Not Live Who Is More Devoted to Peace Than I Am, But It May Be Necessary to Put the Foot Down Firmly: From Springfield to Washington (February 11-22, 1861)
20. I Am Now Going To Be Master: Inauguration (February 23-March 4, 1861)
21. A Man So Busy Letting Rooms in One End of His House, That He Can't Stop to Put Out the Fire that is Burning in the Other: Distributing Patronage (March-April 1861)
22. You Can Have No Conflict Without Being Yourselves the Aggressors: The Fort Sumter Crisis (March-April 1861)
23. I Intend to Give Blows: The Hundred Days (April-July 1861)
24. Sitzkrieg: The Phony War (August 1861-January 1862)
25. This Damned Old House: The Lincoln Family in the Executive Mansion
26. I Expect to Maintain This Contest Until Successful, or Till I Die, or Am Conquered, or My Term Expires, or Congress or the Country Forsakes Me: From the Slough of Despond to the Gates of Richmond (January-July, 1862)
27. The Hour Comes for Dealing with Slavery: Playing the Last Trump Card (January-July 1862)
28. Would You Prosecute the War with Elder-Stalk Squirts, Charged with Rose Water?: The Soft War Turns Hard (July-September 1862)
29. I Am Not a Bold Man, But I Have the Knack of Sticking to My Promises!: The Emancipation Proclamation (September-December 1862)
30. Go Forward, and Give Us Victories: From the Mud March to Gettysburg (January-July 1863)
31. The Signs Look Better: Victory at the Polls and in the Field (July-November 1863)
32. I Hope to Stand Firm Enough to Not Go Backward, and Yet Not Go Forward Fast Enough to Wreck the Country's Cause: Reconstruction and Renomination (November 1863-June 1864)
33. Hold On with a Bulldog Grip and Chew and Choke as Much as Possible: The Grand Offensive (May-August 1864)
34. The Wisest Radical of All: Reelection (September-November 1864)
35. Let the Thing Be Pressed: Victory at Last (November 1864-April 8, 1865)
36. This War Is Eating My Life Out; I Have a Strong Impression That I Shall Not Live to See the End: (April 9-15, 1865)

Additional information

Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame (Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, University of Illinois-Springfield)
Johns Hopkins University Press
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