Historian Eric Foner tells the story of Lincoln's—and the nation's—transformation through the crucible of slavery and emancipation. Foner follows the trajectory of Lincoln’s career across an increasingly tense and shifting political terrain from Illinois to Washington, D.C. Lincoln rose to leadership in the new Republican Party by calibrating his politics to the broadest possible antislavery coalition.
As president of a divided nation at war, displaying a similar compound of pragmatism and principle, Lincoln finally embraced what he called the Civil War's “fundamental and astounding” result: the immediate, uncompensated abolition of slavery and recognition of blacks as American citizens. Foner's Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike. This powerful work will transform our understanding of the nation's greatest president and the issue that mattered most.
Eric Foner is DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University. In his teaching and scholarship, Foner focuses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, slavery, and nineteenth-century America.
Recorded Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at The Newberry Library.