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Age of Lincoln


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Book Review on the Age of Lincoln

In this book the author gives an in-depth description of America in the nineteenth- century. He looks at Abraham Lincoln’s endeavors which influenced the then situation in America before falling apart. Lincoln introduced the millennial impulse which was geared towards influencing both the North and South about the idea Christian perfection and freedom attained through constitutional amendments but America further advanced in the spirit of capitalism and this brought about counterproductive effects in the long run.

Burton, the author of the book “The Age of Lincoln” starts with a summary of expansion of territories, economic revolution and the surfacing of sectional politics at the onset of the 1900’s. Most Americans believed that through living right they would ensure advancement in their expected millennium achievements.1 The people expressed concerns about slavery mostly in the South and capitalism excesses and this led them to misunderstanding of their destiny as a nation. Abraham Lincoln objected the subjection of people to slavery and when it was certain that the slaves states that were still in the union would not bow to pressure and join the confederacy, Lincoln went ahead and signed the Emancipation Proclamation which within the confines of the law abolished slavery of the African Americans.1

Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was an attempt to disrupt the gains towards freedom but this did not really work since the push for equality still remained.

1. Kimberly R. Kellison, “The Age of Lincoln,” The Historian 72, no. 1 (2010): 159+, accessed February 24, 2012, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5041796240.

The rift between the North and South because of their racial ideologies could not be reconciled and this led to failure in reconstruction. The capitalistic advancement, corruption and industrialization only made it worse for the millennial expectations. Since the people charged with the responsibility of guiding the nation towards freedom instead engaged in materialism and thus moved away from Lincoln’s ideologies.1

In this book the author has used the monograph methodology. This methodology entails a piece of writing by one author which revolves around a particular topic in entirety. In just 432 pages, Orville Vernon Burton exhausts the events surrounding president Lincoln’s term in office and the occurrence of the civil war.  The main theme which is freedom and liberty comes out clearly throughout the writing of the book. Abraham Lincoln had southern influences but he did not accept slavery. He noticed the difference in ideologies about liberty where a group would term liberty as having freedom to do whatever they want with themselves and what they earn from their labor while a different group would view liberty as ones freedom to do whatever they like with another man and what the man earns from his labor.2

The book gives the period 1830s to 1900 as the “Age of Abraham Lincoln” when a protestant push for the redefinition of the term freedom among the American people was forwarded. The book also incorporates a website which gives more resources and footnotes for specialist readers who would like to do research with contents of the book itself.

1. Kimberly R. Kellison, “The Age of Lincoln,” The Historian 72, no. 1 (2010): 159+, accessed February 24, 2012, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5041796240.

2. Vernon Burton, “theageoflincoln,” Hill & Wang, 2007, http://www.theageoflincoln.com/Reviews/Entries/2008/3/1_The_Journal_of_American_History.html

For the average reader the book has been written in a concise and direct manner to allow for easier readability and brings to fore understanding of the American political, economical culture and religion in determining the country’s destiny. The other also takes it a step further to include a comprehensive bibliography this coupled with the website gives the work an original feel among readers.2

The book is based on an interpretive synthesis of the civil war era. Here Burton relates the ideas which influence this period with the outcome of the war where Americans realized a new sense of freedom. This helps in the answering most of the questions that cropped up during and after this particular period.

The book “Age of Abraham Lincoln” has a lot of similarities to the book “Battle Cry of Freedom” by James M. McPherson. Among some of the similarities in these two books are they both present wide synthetic stories concerning the Civil War period. These two books clearly bring out the rifts among the American people particularly the South and North. The two authors begin their narratives during the antebellum period and address the secession problem which was caused by changes in politics and economy. The two books give opportunities for women and men, African Americans and whites to express their ideas and feelings with regards to the events of that particular period.3

2. Vernon Burton, “theageoflincoln,” Hill & Wang, 2007, http://www.theageoflincoln.com/Reviews/Entries/2008/3/1_The_Journal_of_American_History.html

3. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 276.

The two authors agree in their books that the Civil War will have consequences which will require the nation to address in later years.3

In conclusion, Burton’s book about the Age of Lincoln may be seen as an ambitious attempt to narrate the events revolving around the Civil War period and Abraham Lincoln’s participation towards liberation and freedom of all American people. The narrative about the nation’s economic, social and political change coupled with religious advancement of the entire period in one volume may have left out some details of the events but Burton’s narration of the industrial workers, Native Americans and other social groups go to prove the wide scope covered in this book.

3. James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 276.

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