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A just and generous nation : Abraham Lincoln and the fight for American opportunity
2015
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
History
Political
Topics
Lincoln, Abraham
American politics and government
Economics
Freedom
American Dream
U.S. presidents
American history
Setting
- United States
Time Period
-- 19th century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Acclaimed Abraham Lincoln historian -Holzer (Lincoln and the Power of the Press) and noted economist Garfinkle argue that the principal driving force of Lincoln's life (1809-65), politics, and policies was the need to create the conditions that would allow and encourage "the right to rise," which for the Whig-turned-Republican Lincoln meant using government to build infrastructure, promote education, and encourage innovation. Explained is the president's opposition to secession, fight to save the Union, and move toward emancipation along with his support for government policies to open the West and stabilize currency. The authors apply the Lincoln standard to successive presidents and find that those who subscribed to his lessons, especially both Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, fueled prosperity, while conservative leaders who promoted supply-side and free-market economics undermined Lincoln's legacy and weakened peoples' faith in America. VERDICT This review of Lincoln's thoughts and actions and examination of subsequent administrations' willingness to promote and secure the American Dream will generate much-needed debate on the history, efficacy, and morality of government's role and responsibility in shaping an economy of fairness and growth. The future of America depends on that question.-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Lincoln scholar Holzer (Lincoln and the Power of the Press) and economist Garfinkle justify adding another Lincoln biography to the overflowing genre by conceiving, and supporting, a radical explanation for the great question about Lincoln's life: Why exactly was the Civil War fought? Eschewing the traditional justifications of ending slavery or preserving the Union, the authors maintain that the overriding factor behind Lincoln's response to the secession of the Southern states was his commitment to pursuing "economic opportunity for the widest possible circle of hardworking Americans." That surprising thesis is based on a close reading of Lincoln's own statements, going back to his early political life. His support for infrastructure projects while he was an Illinois state legislator resulted from his view of government's responsibility to provide, in the authors' words, "opportunities for working people to improve their economic status." That thinking led him to argue that every American, regardless of their race, deserved to profit from their work. The authors spend the last third of the book tracing the fate of Lincoln's economic agenda under his successors, giving their research a more practical angle than simply analyzing the historical record. The thesis is sure to be controversial, but Holzer and Garfinkle make their point well. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
In A Just and Generous Nation , the eminent historian Harold Holzer and the noted economist Norton Garfinkle present a groundbreaking new account of the beliefs that inspired our sixteenth president to go to war when the Southern states seceded from the Union. Rather than a commitment to eradicating slavery or a defense of the Union, they argue, Lincoln's guiding principle was the defense of equal economic opportunity.<br> <br> Lincoln firmly believed that the government's primary role was to ensure that all Americans had the opportunity to better their station in life. As president, he worked tirelessly to enshrine this ideal within the federal government. He funded railroads and canals, supported education, and, most importantly, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which opened the door for former slaves to join white Americans in striving for self-improvement. In our own age of unprecedented inequality, A Just and Generous Nation reestablishes Lincoln's legacy as the protector not just of personal freedom but of the American dream itself.<br>
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
Part 1p. 9
1Simple Annals of the Poor: Dreaming the American Dreamp. 11
2Right Makes Might: Lincoln the Candidatep. 33
3Chain of Steel: Defender of the Unionp. 55
4Saving the Union: Lincoln the Leaderp. 75
5Wholly Evil or Wholly Good: Not Quite an Abolitionistp. 91
6Forever Free: Lincoln the Emancipatorp. 109
7What We Say Here and What We Do Here: Lincoln the Warriorp. 133
Part 2p. 159
8Full Speed Ahead: Without Lincoln at the Helmp. 161
9Positive Government: The Lincoln Legacyp. 181
10For a Vast Future: Expanding Lincoln's American Dreamp. 197
11Government Is the Problem: Rejecting Lincoln's Legacyp. 213
12The New Economic Debate: Clinton, Bush, and Obamap. 227
Epilogue Government for the People: Lincoln's Unfinished Workp. 255
Appendixp. 261
Acknowledgmentsp. 263
Notesp. 265
Indexp. 293
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