Was Lincoln a madman for inviting the people he ran against in the 1860 election onto his Cabinet? Or a genius? Goodwin nods in the direction of genius, with Lincoln pitting one against another and allowing both radical and Conservatives in the wider country think that each had a vital role in his decision making. From the inside, we see that Lincoln alone chose his path, and valued his cabinet for validating his opinions or making reasoned arguments to sway him.
The Civil War crashed upon him immediately into his first term. South Carolina ceded from the Union before he took office. Other states followed suit. While Lincoln was anti-slavery, he had to hold back some of the abolitionist furor to keep border states in the Union and to assuage popular opinion until the right time.
“I consider the central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us, of providing that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail we will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves.”
I never knew that the plot to kill Lincoln also involved the attempted assassination of Secretary of State Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson. Seward was attacked at home and recovered, Johnson’s attacker got cold feet and never attempted the assassination.
Great book, 700+ pages that pull you through the meat grinder of the Civil War and political infighting during that time.
auth=Goodwin, Doris Kearns
sub=The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln