If Abraham Lincoln was known as the Great Emancipator, he was also the only president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. Indeed, Lincoln's record on the Constitution and individual rights has fueled a century of debate, from charges that Democrats were singled out for harrassment to Gore Vidal's depiction of Lincoln as an "absolute dictator." Now, in the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Fate of Liberty, one of America's leading authorities on Lincoln wades straight into this controversy, showing just who was jailed and why, even as he explores the whole range of Lincoln's constitutional policies. Mark Neely depicts Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus as a well-intentioned attempt to deal with a floodtide of unforeseen events: the threat to Washington as Maryland flirted with secession, disintegrating public order in the border states, corruption among military contractors, the occupation of hostile Confederate territory, contraband trade with the South, and the outcry against the first draft in U.S. history. Drawing on letters from prisoners, records of military courts and federal prisons, memoirs, and federal archives, he paints a vivid picture of how Lincoln responded to these problems, how his policies were actually executed, and the virulent political debates that followed. Lincoln emerges from this account with this legendary statesmanship intact--mindful of political realities and prone to temper the sentences of military courts, concerned not with persecuting his opponents but with prosecuting the war efficiently. In addition, Neely explores the abuses of power under the regime of martial law: the routine torture of suspected deserters, widespread antisemitism among Union generals and officials, the common practice of seizing civilian hostages. He finds that though the system of military justice was flawed, it suffered less from merciless zeal, or political partisanship, than from inefficiency and the friction and complexities of modern war. Informed by a deep understanding of a unique period in American history, this incisive book takes a comprehensive look at the issues of civil liberties during Lincoln's administration, placing them firmly in the political context of the time. Written with keen insight and an intimate grasp of the original sources, The Fate of Liberty offers a vivid picture of the crises and chaos of a nation at war with itself, changing our understanding of this president and his most controversial policies.
This engaging and insightful book explores the fate of eloquence in a period during which it both denoted a living oratorical art and served as a major factor in political thought. Seeing Hume's philosophy as a key to the literature of the mid-eighteenth century, Adam Potkay compares the staus of eloquence in Hume's Essays and Natural History of Religion to its status in novels by Sterne, poems by Pope and Gray, and Macpherson's Poems of Ossian. Potkay explains the sense of urgency that the concept of eloquence evoked among eighteenth-century British readers, for whom it recalled Demosthenes exhorting Athenian citizens to oppose tyranny. Revived by Hume and many other writers, the concept of eloquence resonated deeply for an audience who perceived its own political community as being in danger of disintegration. Potkay also shows how, beginning in the realm of literature, the fashion of polite style began to eclipse that of political eloquence. An ethos suitable both to the family circle and to a public sphere that included women, "politeness" entailed a sublimation of passions, a "feminine modesty as opposed to "masculine" display, and a style that sought rather to placate or stabilize than to influence the course of events. For Potkay, the tension between the ideals of ancient eloquence and of modern politeness defined literary and political discourses alike between 1726 and 1770: although politeness eventually gained ascendancy, eloquence was never silenced.
The Fate of a Crown, written by the famous "Oz" author L. Frank Baum under the alias of Schuyler Staunton is a stirring novel of the events of a South American revolution. A young man just out of college goes to Brazil as secretary of the prime mover in the revolution, and by so doing begins a series of adventures that run from tragic to comic, ending with the success of the conspiracy, a straightening out of many tangles, and the marriage of the hero to one of the most brilliant and beautiful conspirators. A most readable book.
Changing Perceptions of Liberty in American Culture
Author: Michael G. Kammen
Publisher: Univ. Press of Mississippi
Liberty, one of the most consequential words in our language, is one of the most treasured concepts in American thought--and one of the most intensely debated. Its meaning is constantly shifting, changing not only from one culture to another but also, over time, within the same culture. No two definitions of liberty seem alike. In this subtle and illuminating work Michael Kammen traces the evolving concept of liberty throughout American history and provides a solid framework for understanding the meaning of the term today. He shows that by the early seventeenth century a tension between liberty and authority was well recognized. Throughout the eighteenth century and especially during the American Revolution a bond between liberty and property was asserted. By the end of the eighteenth century this concept of liberty was so well established that it remained dominant throughout the nineteenth. By the early twentieth century, as the notion of social justice gained prominence, liberty and justice were paired frequently, and by midcentury the two had become allied to general American values. Since the 1960s the union of liberty and equality has been the prevailing notion, and achieving them has proved a major objective. In a lively and learned manner Kammen also shows that Americans have subscribed to different definitions of liberty concurrently. Above all, there has been a steady expansion of what is embraced by the concept of liberty. This expansion has created difficulties in public discourse, causing groups to misunderstand one another. On the other hand, interpretations of liberty have broadened to include such concepts as constraints on authority, a right to privacy, and the protection of personal freedoms. In a new preface for this Banner Books edition Kammen responds to evaluations of earlier editions and places his views within the context of more recent studies. Michael Kammen, a professor of American history and culture at Cornell University, is the author of "American Culture, American Tastes: Social Change and the 20th Century" and "In the Past Lane: Historical Perspectives on American Culture."
From the Founding Fathers and the legendary frontiersmen and cowboys, to astronauts, athletes, and other contemporary heroes, Michael Gellert profiles the development of the American heroic ideal. This central component of our national character is examined against the backdrop of three centuries of American history. He reveals how this principle has expressed the nation's aspiration toward greatness and its sense of identity and purpose. He describes how our national character influenced this ideal and pinpoints what has caused it to go awry.
LIBERTY IN HUME'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND In his own lifetime, Hume was feted by his admirers as a great historian, and even his enemies conceded that he was a controversial historian with whom one had to reckon. On the other hand, Hume failed to achieve positive recognition for his philosophical views. It was Hume's History of England that played an influential role in public policy debate during the eighteenth century in both Great Britain and in the United States. Hume's Hist01Y of England passed through seven editions and was beginning to be perceived as a classic before Hume's death. Voltaire, as an historian, considered it "perhaps the best ever written in any lan guage. " Gibbon greatly admired Hume's work and said, of a letter written by Hume in 1776 praising the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, that a compliment from Hume "overpaid the labor of ten years. " After Hume's death on August 20, 1776, the History became a factor in the revolutionary events that began to unfold. Louis XVI was a close student of Hume's History, and his valet records that, upon having learned that the Convention had voted the death penalty, the King asked for the volume in Hume's History covering the trial and execution of Charles I to read in the days that remained. But if Louis XVI found the consolations of philosophical history in the Stuart volumes, Thomas Jefferson saw in them a cause for alarm.