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Lincoln and the First Shot

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Lincoln and the First Shot.pdf | Language: English

Encapsulating the important political and military issues on the eve of the Civil War! Lincoln had hoped to realize his firm determination to preserve the Union through peaceful and nonprovocative measures. However, he was willing to accept war if he could avoid the blame for having started it. As events turned out, he was no more the aggressor than was Jefferson Davis. In these pages, Current retraces step by step the influences and events that shaped Lincoln's controversial April policy, beginning with the new president's rather furtive arrival in Washington and concluding with the mobilization for war. The Sumter question, as the author points out, "reflects and in turn casts light upon the national tradition of avoiding the 'first shot.' It concerns the events that led directly to the Civil War, the greatest of wars from the American point of view. And it involves problems of historical evidence and interpretation that have more fascination than even the best of ordinary puzzles."
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Book details

  • PDF | 230 pages
  • Waveland Pr Inc; Reprint edition (February 1, 1990)
  • English
  • 1
  • History

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Review Text

  • By Thomas W. Robinson on January 6, 2011

    This book, originally published in the 1960s I believe, is a great introduction to the events from Lincoln's election to the firing on Ft. Sumter and the immediate aftermath. It does an excellent job of breaking down the differing options in front of Lincoln and the path he chose and why. As the previous reviewer noted, it also gives a nice look at some of the early relationships between Lincoln and his cabinet. There is also a good chapter from the Confederacy's point of view and a closing chapter on how historians had viewed Lincoln and his decision regarding Ft. Sumter from just after the war up until Current's writing. All in all, a well-written, engaging look at the beginning of the Civil War.

  • By Kim Smith on April 14, 2013

    I purchased this book as a requirement for a class I was taking. I am not into history so I only used this book as a reference.

  • By Thomas Duterte on December 24, 2016

    Recommend this a thousand times over. The buildup to Fort Sumter reads like a suspense - thriller- political intrigue novel and Current writes in a manner that's both entirely readable but never loses its scholarly approach.Important actors, you find, on both sides, looked eagerly to avoid confrontation that would lead to war. Back channel negotiations, cabinet meetings, letters, diary accounts, etc are covered in detail and the reader discovers that so much of what they thought they knew about the lead up from secession to civil war is completely inadequate. One cannot blame us for such ignorance. I've been an avid reader of Civil War history since my youth and this complicated interim period is largely glossed over.What was it that changed in the decision making of Lincoln's cabinet that made them decide to not only send provisions to Sumter, but to reinforce it, when they'd already previously concluded it would surely lead to war? Why was even the Secretary of State, genuinely assuring the Southern diplomatic envoy that no such mission would be made, right up to the last minute, only to find out the President had changed course without consulting with him?It's terrible that this important work has been left to languish out of print. It's perhaps the most important Civil War work I've read. In history, events are very seldom as simple as they appear.

  • By A customer on November 22, 1999

    A great breakdown of events leading up to Ft. Sumter, and a great analysis of the early relationship between Lincoln and his cabinet, esp. Secretary of state Seward (who at this early date mistakenly thought Lincoln was a puppet he could manipulate). All in all a fascinating read and a must for good civil war libraries.


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