12 January 2010

chs.12-13: Inauguration to Bull Run

In chapter 12 of Team of Rivals, we see “Lincoln the speechwriter” at work crafting his inaugural address. Notice how important words were to Lincoln. And he knew that his words would be seriously parsed for hidden meaning by both sections of the country. I particularly like the touching story of Senator Douglas holding Lincoln’s hat at the inauguration ceremony. These two great men from Illinois had been rivals for years—yet always respected each other's political talents.

During his first few days in office, Lincoln was criticized by both ends of the Republican Party political spectrum. Some thought he was going too far—being too radical; others saw him as a Southern appeaser. This is a continual problem in the American political system. Moderate politicians like Lincoln must manage a political organization that includes many different factions. And as we will see in this book, he did an outstanding job keeping his party together through these difficult times. But it was not smooth sailing at the beginning.

One of the main questions that still baffles historians concerns Lincoln’s larger purpose in the war. Was he pondering the end slavery from the start, or was his only aim to win the war? We are still not absolutely sure. Lincoln seems to have gone through a process where emancipation became more and more important as the war progressed. But unfortunately, we don’t know what Lincoln was thinking at the start of the conflict. As you read this book, think about Lincoln's views on slavery and emancipation and how his sentiments might have been changing due to the circumstances on the battlefields.

At the end of chapter 13, we witness the first of many Union defeats at Bull Run. So full of hope and excitement to end the rebellion quickly, Union efforts did not begin well. And it would get worse for Lincoln and the North. What many Americans still do not realize is how close the Union came to losing this war. What a different country that would have produced!


  1. can you please post a full summary for chapter 12 because I'm really confuse.

  2. CH. 12 Summary

  3. Please give me an idea or hint as to what is confusing you. What questions are you having? What issues are you having difficulty with? When you do that, I will explain.

  4. The author makes a very telling observation regarding Lincoln’s preparation of his Inaugural Address: “With the Dred Scott decision in mind, Lincoln warned against turning the ‘government over to the despotism of the few men [life officers] composing the court.’ Seward deleted the word ‘despotism.’” This would not be the last time that our Nation would suffer the consequences of nine unelected judges thwarting the will of the people.

    Even more telling is Lincoln’s early decision in the war to suspend the writ of Habeas Corpus for U.S. citizens who were considered
    “dangerous to the public safety.” More recently, in the war on terrorism, President Bush, likewise, suspended the writ of Habeas Corpus – but only for “unlawful enemy combatants” (i.e. non-citizens). In the mainstream media’s collective criticism of the 41st President’s decision, they seemed to have forgotten the even more controversial precedent set by the 16th President. Lincoln even ignored Chief Justice Tanney’s ruling in opposition. This critical action would be a portent of Lincoln’s determination to carry out total war to achieve victory.

    Professor Woodard raises a fundamental question regarding Lincoln’s “larger purpose in the war” (i.e. the question of slavery). It seems that beginning with General Benjamin Butler’s early capture of Fort Monroe and his refusal to return three fugitive slaves (employed for Confederate military purposes) to their owner, Lincoln not only approved, but Congress, in turn, would pass a confiscation law to this end. While Lincoln would eventually find competent military generals to win the war, it would be several of his INcompetent generals who would, ironically, address the question of the “larger purpose in the war” by taking unauthorized steps that Lincoln would eventually sanction.

    Tim Utter

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  6. can you compare and contrast Lincoln and Chase and give examples from the book

  7. Yes, I can compare Lincoln and Chase. The president had hair and Chase was nearly bald.

  8. funny!!!!!!!!

    I meant that can you help me compare and contrast one political characteristc of abraham lincoln and chase

  9. It's been 6 long years, I'm still waiting for those political characteristics between Lincoln and Chase.