Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures)

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9780674064409: Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory (The Nathan I. Huggins Lectures)
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Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation, a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln's most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted.

Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln’s momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln’s very modern manipulation of the media―from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation―in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his “greatest act” in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln’s endeavor.

Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln’s efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln’s obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans―white and black, leaders and constituents―toward freedom.

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About the Author:

Harold Holzer is Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College.

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With a refreshing blend of analytical rigor and common sense, Harold Holzer places the Emancipation Proclamation in the context of its own time and circumstances, showing how Lincoln prepared public opinion for this controversial act, grounded it in his legal powers as commander in chief, and promoted its growing acceptance with eloquent paeans to freedom as a goal of the Civil War. This is a welcome new study of the Proclamation. (James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom and Abraham Lincoln)

As the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation approaches, Harold Holzer has given us a splendid book that provides essential historical framing for the document, its reception, and the trajectory of Abraham Lincoln's reputation as the Great Emancipator. A most enjoyable and informative read. (Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Union War and The Confederate War)

A succinct, readable, and essential guide to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. (Henry Louis Gates Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University)

Holzer uncovers a complex, imperfect man who was guided by practical considerations as he struggled to both preserve and perfect the Union. A welcome, balanced, and necessary addition to Lincoln scholarship. (Edna Greene Medford, Howard University)

Holzer's tripartite narrative deals first with the historical context of the Proclamation, laying out Lincoln's exquisitely difficult political, legal, moral and martial calculations as he gradually widened his circle of confidants, labored to manipulate public opinion and slyly prepared the nation for his momentous decision. He spent months refining the announcement released after Antietam and steadfastly signed the promised executive order. The author then moves to a discussion of the Proclamation's rhetorical deficiencies (Richard Hofstadter said it contained "all the moral grandeur of a bill of lading"), explains why our most eloquent president wrote so uncharacteristically and points us to contemporaneous speeches and letters for the "poetic accompaniment" to what was, after all, preeminently a legal document. Finally, Holzer turns to the iconography surrounding Lincoln and emancipation, tracing images from the early kneeling-slave, peculiarly disconcerting to modern audiences, on through to treatments by contemporary artists such as Rauschenberg, Basquiat and Kara Walker. This visual evidence effectively underscores his larger point about our troublesome, still evolving understanding of the Proclamation's place in our history. A fine introduction to what promises in 2013 to become a nationwide discussion. (Kirkus Reviews 2012-01-01)

Tracing the history of the iconography of Lincoln and the Proclamation, Holzer deftly leads readers through American racial politics from the Civil War to the election of President Obama...Images of the Proclamation and political cartoons shed light on the text and its reception in 1863. (Publishers Weekly 2011-12-12)

In this readable and revealing book, renowned Lincoln scholar Holzer investigates the process whereby Lincoln drafted, vetted, and presented the Emancipation Proclamation and also the ways people have come to understand and use the proclamation for myriad purposes. Especially important is Holzer's demonstration that Lincoln wrapped the proclamation's revolutionary promise in "leaden" legal language to ensure its Constitutionality and its palatability to loyal slaveholders, Northerners, and others still uneasy with the prospect of ending slavery. Also instructive is Holzer's examination of the Lincoln image as the "Great Emancipator" and the kneeling slave motif in picture, sculpture, and imagination, which images have contrasted with the more contested ones of Lincoln in print. The result is a book that through close textual analysis and attention to historical context gives the Emancipation Proclamation its due and shows Lincoln as a deft politician and prose master who understood how to fit the language to the moment and thereby realize a promise for all time. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn about how freedom came to be. (Randall M. Miller Library Journal (starred review) 2012-01-09)

Emancipating Lincoln is a long-overdue contextual analysis of Lincoln's evolving emancipation program and its place in historical memory. Holzer, an authority on Lincoln..., pinpoints when, why and how the president moved toward freeing the slaves. (John David Smith Charlotte Observer 2012-02-06)

Holzer's book brilliantly and quite convincingly aims to restore Lincoln's place as a courageous American civil rights pioneer by considering the 16th president's actions, attitudes, and the Emancipation Proclamation itself within the political, military, and racial context of the time...In putting Lincoln's greatest achievement in historical context, Holzer has done the Emancipator, and historical scholarship in general, a valuable service. (Chuck Leddy Boston Globe 2012-03-05)

What emerges from Holzer's research is a portrait of Lincoln as a man of vision who was adept at manipulating the news media. He was also discreet, even with his friends (both political and personal)...Holzer describes Lincoln's care in selecting the proper words, the right timing and the right context to effect the enactment of the proclamation. The portrait that emerges is one of a leader able to build consensus during the development of an important policy and in the middle of a war. (Michael L. Ramsey Roanoke Times 2012-03-23)

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation , a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln s most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted. Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln s momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln s very modern manipulation of the media - from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation - in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his greatest act in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln s endeavor. Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln s efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln s obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans - white and black, leaders and constituents - toward freedom. Seller Inventory # AAH9780674064409

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2012. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Emancipating Lincoln seeks a new approach to the Emancipation Proclamation , a foundational text of American liberty that in recent years has been subject to woeful misinterpretation. These seventeen hundred words are Lincoln s most important piece of writing, responsible both for his being hailed as the Great Emancipator and for his being pilloried by those who consider his once-radical effort at emancipation insufficient and half-hearted. Harold Holzer, an award-winning Lincoln scholar, invites us to examine the impact of Lincoln s momentous announcement at the moment of its creation, and then as its meaning has changed over time. Using neglected original sources, Holzer uncovers Lincoln s very modern manipulation of the media - from his promulgation of disinformation to the ways he variously withheld, leaked, and promoted the Proclamation - in order to make his society-altering announcement palatable to America. Examining his agonizing revisions, we learn why a peerless prose writer executed what he regarded as his greatest act in leaden language. Turning from word to image, we see the complex responses in American sculpture, painting, and illustration across the past century and a half, as artists sought to criticize, lionize, and profit from Lincoln s endeavor. Holzer shows the faults in applying our own standards to Lincoln s efforts, but also demonstrates how Lincoln s obfuscations made it nearly impossible to discern his true motives. As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Proclamation, this concise volume is a vivid depiction of the painfully slow march of all Americans - white and black, leaders and constituents - toward freedom. Seller Inventory # AAH9780674064409

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