The Lincoln Persuasion: Remaking American Liberalism

The Lincoln Persuasion: Remaking American Liberalism

by J. David Greenstone
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691037647

ISBN-13: 9780691037646

Pub. Date: 07/25/1994

Publisher: Princeton University Press

In his last work, J. David Greenstone provides an important new analysis of American liberalism and of Lincoln's unique contribution to the nation's political life. Greenstone addresses Louis Hartz's well-known claim that a tradition of liberal consensus has characterized American political life from the time of the founders. Although he acknowledges the force of…  See more details below

Overview

In his last work, J. David Greenstone provides an important new analysis of American liberalism and of Lincoln's unique contribution to the nation's political life. Greenstone addresses Louis Hartz's well-known claim that a tradition of liberal consensus has characterized American political life from the time of the founders. Although he acknowledges the force of Hartz's thesis, Greenstone nevertheless finds it inadequate for explaining prominent instances of American political discord, most notably the Civil War. Greenstone argues instead for the existence of a fundamental bipolarity in American liberalism between what he calls "humanist liberalism" and "reform liberalism." The two traditions, equally liberal, share beliefs in three fundamental liberal tenets - individual rights, private property, and government by consent - but they differ sharply on other, still liberal, beliefs. Humanist liberals, such as Thomas Jefferson and the Jacksonians, emphasized the satisfying of individual preferences; by contrast, reform liberals concentrated on fostering individual human development. Greenstone traces the development of this bipolarity from the political thought of the founding generation through that of the Jacksonians and finally to Lincoln. In the antebellum years, the manifest inability of either political tradition alone to resolve the growing dispute over slavery led Lincoln to the development of a new political outlook that was a synthesis of the two liberal traditions. Greenstone suggests that this synthesis, the Lincoln "persuasion," amounted to a new founding of the nation.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691037646
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/25/1994
Series:
Princeton Legacy Library Series
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.28(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

List of Charts and Tables
Acknowledgments
Editor's Note
Introduction to the Book
1The Lincoln Myth Reconsidered9
Lincoln's Ulterior Motives12
Lincoln's Devotion to Liberty and Union16
Lincoln's Principle of Action18
Lincoln's Motives and Principle21
The Problem of Political Conflict: Lincoln vs. Douglas26
Lincoln's Principle as a Political Solution31
2American Political Culture: Liberal Consensus or Liberal Polarity?35
American Exceptionalism: The Consensus Thesis36
A Philosophical Critique: Multiple Meanings and Descriptions48
The Bipolarity in American Liberalism50
The Liberal Polarity: Conflicting Dispositions63
3Adams and Jefferson: A Shared Liberalism71
Friendship, Rivalry, Friendship71
The Problem of Adams's Liberalism73
The Multiple Declensions of New England Culture76
The Founding Synthesis78
Equality and the Liberal Polarity90
4Adams, Jefferson, and the Slavery Paradox95
The Slavery Paradox96
Liberalism and the Issue of Slavery105
5William Leggett: Process, Utility, and Laissez-Faire124
Jacksonian Politics and Humanist Liberal Principles124
Laissez-Faire: Leggett's Attenuated Republicanism127
Leggett's Humanist Liberalism: Preferences and Process130
Slavery133
6Stephen A. Douglas and Popular Sovereignty140
Jacksonian Politics and Humanist Liberalism141
Douglas's Attenuated Republicanism145
Preference Coordination148
Slavery150
7Martin Van Buren's Humanist Liberal Theory of Party154
Jacksonian Democrat and Humanist Liberal155
Van Buren's Humanist Liberal Theory of Party158
Van Buren's Attenuated Republicanism169
Slavery172
Van Buren's Failure: Slavery and Preference Coordination179
8John Quincy Adams191
Adams's Whiggish Loyalties192
Adams and Slavery196
Adams's Liberalism198
Reform Liberalism and Politics205
9Lincoln and the North's Commitment to Liberty and Union222
Douglas: Negative Liberty and a Quantitative Union223
Webster: Positive Liberty and a Qualitative Union226
Lincoln on Liberty and Union: A Conceptual Connection230
Conclusion: Rule Ambiguity and Liberal Politics240
10Lincoln's Political Humanitarianism: Moral Reform and the Covenant Tradition244
Lincoln's Political Ethic245
Lincoln's Protestant Ethic258
Conclusion: Lincoln's Piety282
Epilogue284
References287
Index299

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