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Lincoln’s Hundred Days

Lincoln’s Hundred Days

The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union

Louis P. Masur

ISBN 9780674284098

Publication date: 05/12/2014

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"The time has come now," Abraham Lincoln told his cabinet as he presented the preliminary draft of a "Proclamation of Emancipation." Lincoln's effort to end slavery has been controversial from its inception-when it was denounced by some as an unconstitutional usurpation and by others as an inadequate half-measure-up to the present, as historians have discounted its import and impact. At the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, Louis Masur seeks to restore the document's reputation by exploring its evolution.

Lincoln's Hundred Days is the first book to tell the full story of the critical period between September 22, 1862, when Lincoln issued his preliminary Proclamation, and January 1, 1863, when he signed the final, significantly altered, decree. In those tumultuous hundred days, as battlefield deaths mounted, debate raged. Masur commands vast primary sources to portray the daily struggles and enormous consequences of the president's efforts as Lincoln led a nation through war and toward emancipation. With his deadline looming, Lincoln hesitated and calculated, frustrating friends and foes alike, as he reckoned with the anxieties and expectations of millions. We hear these concerns, from poets, cabinet members and foreign officials, from enlisted men on the front and free blacks as well as slaves.

Masur presents a fresh portrait of Lincoln as a complex figure who worried about, listened to, debated, prayed for, and even joked with his country, and then followed his conviction in directing America toward a terrifying and thrilling unknown.

Praise

  • When Lincoln published a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862, warning Confederate states of his intention to issue a final edict on January 1, he did not realize that those two dates stood precisely one hundred days apart. Louis Masur’s Lincoln’s Hundred Days focuses on that crucial period, but it starts more than a year earlier to set the stage for those hundred days, and follows up with the aftermath and consequences of Lincoln’s historic action. Masur…argue[s] persuasively that the progression of events during that critical autumn of the war were full of contingencies and that the final outcome was by no means certain… Provide[s] detailed and careful renderings of these events and of Lincoln’s intellectual journey.

    —James M. McPherson, New York Review of Books

Author

  • Louis P. Masur is Distinguished Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University.

Book Details

  • 384 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Belknap Press

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