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Lincoln at Peoria

Lincoln at Peoria

4.0 3
by Lewis E. Lehrman

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• The pivotal speech that changed the course of Lincoln's career and America's history • Complete examination of the speech, including the full text delivered in 1854 in Peoria, Illinois To understand President Abraham Lincoln, one must understand the extraordinary antislavery speech Lincoln delivered at Peoria on October 16, 1854. This three-hour address


• The pivotal speech that changed the course of Lincoln's career and America's history • Complete examination of the speech, including the full text delivered in 1854 in Peoria, Illinois To understand President Abraham Lincoln, one must understand the extraordinary antislavery speech Lincoln delivered at Peoria on October 16, 1854. This three-hour address marked the turning point in Lincoln's political pilgrimage, dramatically altering his political career and, as a result, the history of America.Lincoln opposed any further extension of slavery in the American republic, holding to the Declaration of Independence's universal principle that "all men are created equal." In response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lincoln launched his antislavery campaign, delivering speeches in Springfield and Peoria.The Peoria address was rigorous, logical, and grounded in historical research. It marked Lincoln's reentry into politics and his preparation for the presidency in 1861. The speech catapulted Lincoln into the national debates over slavery and into national politics for the rest of his life.Though historians and biographers have noted its importance, Lincoln's speech at Peoria has not received the attention it deserves. Lincoln at Peoria offers a complete examination of the speech that changed the course of our nation.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

In this careful, balanced look at Abraham Lincoln's stirring 1854 Peoria, Ill., speech, writer and historian Lehrman finds a "prelude to greatness" that put the little-known lawyer and politician on the path to national prominence while laying the intellectual groundwork for his presidency. The subject was slavery, already the great question of 19th century America, recently reignited with the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act that repealed earlier anti-slavery laws for certain new territories. Arguing that the fundamental principles of the Declaration of Independence extended to African-Americans, Lincoln took an abolitionist position daring for any politician with national ambitions (though he did not go so far as to advocate for full social or political equality). Lehrman also considers Lincoln's Illinois nemesis, Sen. Stephen A. Douglas, sponsor of the new Kansas-Nebraska Act who spoke at Peoria before Lincoln as a stalwart booster of "the rights of whites to enslave blacks." Ably building on the drama of Lincoln's anti-slavery efforts through subsequent years, culminating in his ascent to the presidency, Lehrman's detailed chronicle, rich in first-person accounts, lays out the case that from his earliest public forays, Lincoln was no ordinary leader.
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The Wall Street Journal
Lincoln's return to politics, and the speeches it occasioned, is the subject of Lewis E. Lehrman's "Lincoln at Peoria." Intimately familiar with the primary sources and armed with a sweeping command of the historiography, Mr. Lehrman convincingly argues that Peoria marks the inflection-point in Lincoln's political development, when he discovered both the essence of the cause he embraced and the most persuasive way to convey it. At Peoria, Lincoln ceased to be an unremarkable Whig politician, concerned with the usual party platforms on internal improvements and protective tariffs. He gave evidence for the first time of his scrupulous study of the American founding. That fall day was, Mr. Lehrman suggests, the moment when Lincoln became Lincoln.

Product Details

Stackpole Books
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9.18(w) x 10.90(h) x 1.32(d)

What People are Saying About This

Douglas L. Wilson
"Lewis E. Lehrman's Lincoln at Peoria is nothing less than a landmark contribution to Lincoln studies. Abraham Lincoln's 1854 Peoria speech has long been recognized as a valuable sourcebook of his seminal ideas and arguments, but it has never received this kind of thorough and illuminating treatment."--(Douglas L. Wilson, award-winning author of Honors Voice)
James M. McPherson
"Abraham Lincoln's speech at Peoria, Illinois in October 1854 climaxed his return to the political stage, in response to Stephen A. Douglass Kansas-Nebraska Act passed that year. This famous speech outlined Lincoln's political faith and marked the first of several titanic contests with Douglas that carried through the founding of the Republican party, the debates in 1858, and the presidential election of 1860. Lewis Lehrman's detailed study of the context, rhetoric, and consequences of this speech offers new insights on Lincoln's rise to greatness. Lincoln at Peoria takes its place among the important Lincoln books in this bicentennial season."--(James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University)
Michael Burlingame
"Lewis E. Lehrman's eloquent, thorough study of Lincoln's first oratorical masterpiece makes a major new contribution to Lincoln studies. Until now there has been no study of the magnificent 1854 Peoria speech, in which Lincoln made his debut as a spokesman for the antislavery cause. Those who do know the Peoria speech will gain a fuller appreciation of its context and significance from this beautifully written, well-documented study."--(Michael Burlingame, author of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln)
David Brion Davis
"Lewis E. Lehrman's new book provides an indispensable analysis of Abraham Lincoln's approach to the central issue of slavery. Fully attuned to the vast historiography on the subject, Lehrman focuses on Lincoln's magnificent speech in Peoria in October 1854 to demonstrate how Lincoln's fusion of firm moral principle with a comprehensive grasp of history and the pragmatics of American politics created a road to the future."--(David Brion Davis, Winner, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Bancroft Prize)
Doris Kearns Goodwin
"Lewis E. Lehrman does a brilliant job of dramatizing a critical moment in Lincoln's life that has never before been given the careful attention it deserves. In his book, Lincoln at Peoria, he has forever given the Peoria speech of 1854 its rightful place in Lincoln's story. As a result this elegant study provides fresh insight into both the growth of Abraham Lincoln as a masterful leader and the tumultuous decade of the 1850's. It is a book that deserves an honored place in the literature of our 16th President."--(Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winning author and Presidential Historian)
James Oliver Horton
"This is a fascinating study of Abraham Lincoln as revealed through his words, ideas and evolving philosophy. With impressive research and writing that grips the reader, Lewis Lehrman's meticulous analysis of one of Lincoln's little known speeches in the turbulent decade of the 1850s contributes to our understanding of one of America's greatest leaders during the most critical period in the nation's history. This is a must read for anyone seeking to understand Lincoln and his time, a pivotal time that laid the foundation for our own."--(James Oliver Horton, co-author of Slavery and the Making of America)

Meet the Author

Lewis E. Lehrman is dedicated to reviving the teaching of American history in its schools and colleges. Mr. Lehrman has written and lectured widely on American history and economics and has written for publications such as Harper's, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the New York Sun, and Policy Review. He also writes for the Lincoln Institute, which has created award-winning websites on the sixteenth president. With Richard Gilder, Mr. Lehrman built the Gilder Lehrman Collection of original historical manuscripts and documents to teach American history from primary sources, now on deposit for public access at the New-York Historical Society. He was presented the National Humanities Medal at the White House in 2005 for his work in American history and is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and the Lincoln Forum.

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