Lincoln, Seward, and US Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era

Lincoln, Seward, and US Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era

by Joseph A. Fry


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The Civil War marked a significant turning point in American history — not only for the United States itself but also for its relations with foreign powers both during and after the conflict. The friendship and foreign policy partnership between President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Henry Seward shaped those US foreign policies. These unlikely allies, who began as rivals during the 1860 presidential nomination, helped ensure that America remained united and prospered in the aftermath of the nation's consuming war.

In Lincoln, Seward, and US Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, Joseph A. Fry examines the foreign policy decisions that resulted from this partnership and the legacy of those decisions. Lincoln and Seward, despite differences in upbringing, personality, and social status, both adamantly believed in the preservation of the union and the need to stymie slavery. They made that conviction the cornerstone of their policies abroad, and through those policies, such as Seward threatening war with any nation that intervened in the Civil War, they prevented European intervention that could have led to Northern defeat. The Union victory allowed America to resume imperial expansion, a dynamic that Seward sustained beyond Lincoln's death during his tenure as President Andrew Johnson's Secretary of State.

Fry's analysis of the Civil War from an international perspective and the legacy of US policy decisions provides a more complete view of the war and a deeper understanding of this crucial juncture in American history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813177120
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 04/05/2019
Series: Studies in Conflict, Diplomacy, and Peace
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 911,804
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Joseph A. Fry is Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His books include Dixie Looks Abroad: The South and U.S. Foreign Relations, 1789—1973, Debating Vietnam: Fulbright, Stennis, and Their Senate Hearings, and The American South and the Vietnam War: Belligerence, Protest, and Agony in Dixie.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Origins of the Foreign Policy Partnership, 1801-1861 7

2 The First Perilous Year, 1861 43

3 The Recognition and Cabinet Crises, 1862 78

4 Victory and the Death of the Partnership, 1863-1865 114

5 Seward and Empire, 1865-1869 154

Conclusion 187

Acknowledgments 192

Notes 195

Bibliographic Essay 221

Index 227

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"A gracefully written, compelling study that illuminates one of the most effective foreign policy partnerships​ in US history. Not only does Fry convince that Lincoln and Seward enabled Union victory by navigating the shoals of Civil War diplomacy with flexibility, imagination, and subtlety; he shows how their policies set parameters for America's later course to overseas empire. Anyone with an interest in the Civil War, Reconstruction, or American diplomacy will benefit greatly from reading this richly informative book." — Robert May, author of Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America

"Joseph Fry, a distinguished historian of US foreign policy, has written an important book that admirably corrects lingering misconceptions about Secretary of State William Seward and his relationship with President Abraham Lincoln. In his rendering, we see two masters of statecraft working together, devising domestic and foreign policies that complemented one another and saved the life of the nation from its enemies at home and abroad. Fry's book is a heartening reminder that politicians, at their best, can rise above petty rivalries and jealousies to serve a larger cause, and they proved this during America's greatest crisis." — Don H. Doyle, author of The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War

"In this engaging and well-crafted study, Joseph A. Fry examines the unusual partnership that developed between President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward during the Civil War. Setting aside their intense rivalry, they became close friends, united in their determination to preserve and expand the Union while warding off an intervention by either England or France — or both — that could have changed the outcome of the war. An impressive work that will interest both academic and general readers." — Howard Jones, author of My Lai: Vietnam, 1968, and the Descent into Darkness

"Joseph Fry has written the book that we have long needed. More than just an examination of one of the greatest political partnerships in US history, this insightful study shows how the course of the nation's greatest internal crisis hinged upon its relations with foreign powers. Anyone who is interested in the Civil War and the emergence of the United States as a world power should read this book." — Jay Sexton, author of Debtor Diplomacy: Finance and American Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, 1837-1873

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