The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Reviled President

Overview

Today, Abraham Lincoln is a beloved American icon, widely considered to be our best president. It was not always so. Larry Tagg's The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln is the first study of its kind to concentrate on what Lincoln's contemporaries actually thought of him during his lifetime. Be forewarned: your preconceived notions are about to be shattered.

Torn by civil war, the era in which our sixteenth president lived and governed was the most ...
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The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Reviled President

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Overview

Today, Abraham Lincoln is a beloved American icon, widely considered to be our best president. It was not always so. Larry Tagg's The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln is the first study of its kind to concentrate on what Lincoln's contemporaries actually thought of him during his lifetime. Be forewarned: your preconceived notions are about to be shattered.

Torn by civil war, the era in which our sixteenth president lived and governed was the most rough-and-tumble in the history of American politics. The violence of the criticism aimed at Lincoln by the great men of his time on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line is simply startling. Indeed, the breadth and depth of the spectacular prejudice against him is often shocking for its cruelty, intensity, and unrelenting vigor. The plain truth is that Mr. Lincoln was deeply reviled by many who knew him personally, and by hundreds of thousands who only knew of him.

Boisterous and venomous enough to be good entertainment, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln rests upon a wide foundation of research that includes years of searching through contemporary newspapers. Tagg includes extensive treatment of the political context that begat Lincoln's predicament, riding with the president to Washington, and walking with him through the bleak years of war and up to and beyond assassination. Throughout, Tagg entertains with a lively writing style, outstanding storytelling verve, and an unconventional, against-the-grain perspective that is sure to delight readers of all stripes.

Lincoln's humanity has been unintentionally trivialized by some historians and writers who have hidden away the real man in a patina of bronze. Once readers learn the truth of how others viewed him, they will better understand the man he was, and how history is better viewed through a long-distance lens than contemporaneously.

The bicentennial of Lincoln's birth will be celebrated in 2009 and will be the biggest year ever for public interest in Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission created and funded by Congress will "inform the public about the impact Abraham Lincoln had on the development of our nation." The year will also witness the release of Steven Spielberg's long-awaited movie on President Lincoln. Of all the Lincoln books slated for publication, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln will be the "must-read" title for general readers and scholars alike.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932714616
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie
  • Publication date: 5/20/2009
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 951,789
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Toppling the Marble Man

    Who is the greatest, best or most popular president in American History? In poll after poll, of historians and the general public alike, Abraham Lincoln is consistently ranked, if not at the top of the list, then second only to George Washington. That being said, it might surprise people to learn that in his time Lincoln was not popular or well liked, but rather was hated, despised and reviled.

    Too often Abraham Lincoln has been thought of as the marble man, set upon a pedestal for us to gaze upon; a mythic man, wise and all-knowing, who with a calm and steady, but sure hand guided the nation through four of the most bloody and tumultuous years in American history. Too often has he been portrayed as "The Emancipator" and seen as the perfect model for what a President of the United States should strive to become.

    Like peeling away the layers of an onion, Larry Tagg in "The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America's Most Reviled President," methodically tears the myth away from the man to reveal the truth of the reality: Abraham Lincoln was a flawed man. He like the rest of humanity, made mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes had drastic and devastating consequences.

    Beginning with a brief explanation of American politics up to the election of Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Tagg describes the rise of the political party system, which after the founding fathers and the aristocratic presidents elected a series of weak unknowns to the presidency which lead to the dominance of Congress over that office.

    Mr. Tagg continues by demonstrating that newspapers of the time were anything but "fair and balanced," but rather leaned heavily to one political party or the other, therefore giving their readers a distorted view of events and personalities; playing up the party they supported and often demonizing the opposition.

    Working chronologically the author takes his readers through the Lincoln presidency and demonstrates, by the use of letters and journals as well as newspaper accounts and political cartoons, that no matter on what topic Lincoln acted upon, especially slavery, emancipation and later reconstruction policy, he was "damned if he did and damned if he didn't." He either acted too fast or too strongly for the Democrats, or not fast or vigorously enough for the Radical Republicans. Most often these rival factions pulled in opposite directions. By constantly seeking the middle ground politically Abraham Lincoln was truly a man to be hated by everyone.

    Larry Tagg has written a book that has needed to be written for many years. His tome topples the statue of the mythic President Abraham Lincoln from its pedestal, and replaces it with a more flawed figure of a human who is capable of making and learning from his mistakes, of being loved, adored and admired in our time while being hated, despised and reviled in his.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wow, this is a great book!

    Our Abraham Lincoln is the Great Emancipator, the sure hand that guides America through the Civil War, struck down as we entered the promised land of peace. A wise and wonderful man of courage and strength, an eloquent voice that defines our better nature, a guide, a comfort in time of crises, and need. Our Abraham Lincoln "is a marble man, a mythic icon enshrined in a magnificent twenty-foot tall statue that looks down on visitors from beneath the dome of his Memorial, a Greek temple modeled after the Temple of Zeus."
    The book's Abraham Lincoln is about seven feet tall, by today's height standards, topped with a shock of unruly black hair, clad in an ill-fitting suit, unattractive if not ugly, speaking in a high voice with a distant western twang. He is not socially adept, prone to bluntness and seems not to consider the feelings of his peers. The man in the middle, he is trying to hold things together while being attacked for going fast/slow in the right/wrong direction from all sides at the same time.
    That both portraits are Abraham Lincoln and that the author can reconcile these different ideas shows what a well-written book this is. This was a slow and often difficult read for me. Not because the author did a poor job but because I had to reconcile my Lincoln to the actual man and the times. We have all read about the political and personal attacks on Lincoln during his presidency. We have read that the years after his death were much kinder to him than the years he was President. I know we do not understand how different these two eras are and how much the image of Lincoln has changed. This book is a major step in giving the reading public that understanding.
    Larry Tagg gives us a short introduction covering Lincoln's nomination and election. Combined with a look at American life and politics in the years leading up to the election of 1860, we have a good foundation. The book concludes with an explanation of constructing the Lincoln of legend and how many factions found building the legend useful. In between is a very solid political history of Lincoln's administration, the negative reactions and personal attacks. Lincoln's election is not the result of personal popularity; he receives fewer votes than the loser in past elections, but the collapse of the national political parties. While not on Southern ballots, he is not popular in the Democratic strongholds of major Northern cites nor is he the choice of the Radical Republicans.
    Negative reactions and comments start right after the election and never stop. The Baltimore Plot is just the first incident that provides the press with material. Once the war starts the democratic papers are largely silenced by the combination of patriotic mobs and government action. The author handles this story in a nonjudgmental tone avoiding any fiery rhetoric on this highly charged subject. This is one of the strongest points in the book, as the story has many sensitive subjects. Another well-written comprehensive section is the election of 1864; Lincoln's nomination, Chase and the role of the Radicals make an exciting mix. The author traces each of these in both the press and historically giving the reader a ringside seat on the double-dealings, back stabbings and ultimately Lincoln victory. This is well written, informative and enjoyable reading. In an excellent book, this was my favorite section.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 17, 2009

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