"...We Cannot Escape History...": Abraham Lincoln's Trials by Fire, July-December, 1862

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1862 was the most trying year of Lincoln's presidency, both personally, and politically. On February 20, eleven-year old Willie Lincoln died of typhoid fever, leaving his parents both devastated with grief. After failing to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond in the ill-fated "Peninsula Campaign," General George B. McClellan was replaced as Commander of the Army of the Potomac by General John Pope. Arrogant and incompetent, Pope attacked Confederate forces under General Robert E. Lee and suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle of Second Bull Run. Lincoln returned McClellan to command just in time for him to oversee the bloodiest, single day of the Civil War, the Battle of Antietam. Meanwhile, Pope was sent west by Lincoln to lead efforts to put down a full-scale Dakota Indian uprising against white settlers on the Minnesota River Valley frontier, when news of the outbreak of hostilities reached him in Washington. It was Pope who conceived the decision to try the Dakota prisoners by military commission as a means of restoring his tarnished military career by being an "Indian fighter." If that weren't enough, Lincoln was in the process of drafting his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and weighing the consequences of it becoming the cornerstone of the Union's war effort. It would have been easy, even understandable, for Lincoln to have been so overwhelmed by all the pressures he faced that he simply ignored his own conscious decision not to hang men for votes. To his credit, he did not. This is the seldom told, comprehensive, and dramatic story of Abraham Lincoln, the Dakota Conflict, and emancipation of the African-American race, as it played out against the backdrop of the American Civil War. Ironically, the Final Emancipation Proclamation was signed less than a week after the largest mass-execution in American history took place at Mankato, Minnesota.

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Bryce O. Stenzel
Published by Minnesota Heritage Publishing (2012)
ISBN 10: 0985093730 ISBN 13: 9780985093730
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Book Description Minnesota Heritage Publishing, 2012. Spiral-bound. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0985093730

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