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The Crooked Path to Abolition

Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution

James Oakes



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12 January 2021
Some celebrate Lincoln for freeing the slaves; others fault him for a long-standing conservatism on abolition and race. James Oakes gives us another option in this brilliant exploration of Lincoln and the end of slavery. Through the unforeseen challenges of the Civil War crisis, Lincoln and the Republican party adhered to a clear antislavery strategy founded on the Constitution itself. All understood the limits to federal power in the slave states, and the need for state action to abolish slavery finally. But Lincoln and the Republicans claimed strong constitutional tools for federal action against slavery, and they used those tools consistently to undermine slavery, prevent its expansion, and pressure the slave states into abolition. This antislavery Constitution guided Lincoln and his allies as they navigated the sectional crisis and the Civil War. When the states finally ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, it was a confirmation of a long-held vision.
By:   James Oakes
Imprint:   Norton
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 218mm,  Width: 150mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   432g
ISBN:   9781324005858
ISBN 10:   1324005858
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   12 January 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

James Oakes is one of our foremost Civil War historians and a two-time winner of the Lincoln Prize for his works on the politics of abolition. He teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Reviews for The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution

I read this remarkable book with pleasure and admiration. Oakes writes like a dream. -- Don Herzog, author of Sovereignty, RIP Cogently argued, by one of our foremost historians of emancipation. -- Manisha Sinha, author of The Slave's Cause No other scholar has shed more light on Lincoln's way of dealing with slavery. -- Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life On Lincoln, on the Civil War, on slavery's downfall, on constitutional change-this is an indispensable book. -- Amy Dru Stanley, author of From Bondage to Contract Brilliant...A landmark contribution. -- David S. Reynolds, author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times With crisp and lucid prose, Oakes provides a map that guides the reader through the zigs and zags of the path to freedom. -- James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom A diamond of historical scholarship, with deep research and understanding shining brilliantly in every facet. -- Sidney Blumenthal, author of The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Eleanor Roosevelt used to say, 'If you must compromise, compromise up.' The champion compromiser up was Lincoln, as Oakes proves, avoiding the simple views of him as just opportunist or just emancipator. He knew where he was going, even when he had to obscure the goal. -- Garry Wills, author of Lincoln at Gettysburg With this superb book, Oakes opens the way for a thorough retelling of the nation's history from the American Revolution to the Civil War. -- Sean Wilentz, author of No Property in Man

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