James McPherson the author of this book is a scholar and a Civil War author from Princeton University. Demonstrates how the Civil War played a key role in the definition of the American Second Revolution. Essentially, from this book one is able to appreciate the fact that this war played a pivotal role in the abolition of slavery. In addition, it dealt blow to the social status quo that was in existence with regard to political and economic imbalance which war there during that time (McPherson). This is a book which contains several essays which are picked from lecturers which were delivered by McPherson during various sessions.
This book does not really mention the economic and innovations which were social in nature that were or might have been associated with this time, rather, the focus of this book is on the subject of liberty which is individual in nature. This book focuses on how the issue of liberty for all was dealt with rightly by the leadership’s ingenuity of Lincoln. It gives a reflection of how the thought of liberty for all was greatly impressed upon the mind of this great leader and how through wit and leadership acumen, the leader was able to bring it to realization. Through this book, one is able to realize that despite the clamor around this subject, Lincoln was able to forge into a weapon which was used to win the war and how subject eventually became an end in itself. According to McPherson, the war, that is, the Civil War, was aimed at bringing about liberty and ensuring the extension of protection to the citizenry which he had a clue of the fact that the united states of America would be held in the eyes of the world for the ages which would come. The central themes during this time include the subject on how he played his role as the President, the commander in chief of the union forces and the shrewd politician who used his skill to forge a national military strategy that eventually, brought the victory. McPherson gives the importance of the rhetoric and oratory skills.
Through a unique utilization of language, he was able to relay the importance of war at the same time he was able to bring to the citizenry the understanding of what liberty would mean to the people who were in the North. McPherson also gives a reflection of this war as a form of Second American Revolution, whereby through this book he gives a description of how the Republican Congress of 1860 enacted a string of laws which countered the previous ones. This also gives the effect of war regarding the power balance issues with a comparison between the North and South. Essentially, the reader is able to understand how this war brought changes in America. For instance, this war brought major changes in the social structure of the southern states by destroying the old southern and also how it altered power issues between the northern and the southern states. For instance, there was a power balance which brought to an end the power that the southern had held for a record seventy years in the national government. In conclusion, from the analysis given in this book, the Civil War holds a special position in history of the United states of America and the entire world as a very important event which is characterized by redefinition of what power entails and how a leader can strategically use the instruments of power to bring about political and social changes for the benefit of the many.
It is quite clear that the issues which Lincoln grappled with or worked on never became obsolete and will never become obsolete in the world we live in today. This is because these issues deal with the fundamentals of humanness. Such issues include the meaning of freedom, the nature of nationalism, problems of leadership in war and peace, the tragedies and triumphs of the revolutionary war, the dimensions of democracy and the limits of government power and individual liberty in times of crisis. This has been captured in this book through the following essays by McPherson; In Journal of the Abraham Lincoln, How Lincoln Won the War with Metaphors, In Hayes Historical Journal, Abraham Lincoln and the American Political tradition, In The Histroy of Liberty: Seaver Institute lectures at the Huntington Library and Lincoln and the Strategy of Unconditional Surrender. Through these essays, McPherson enables the reader to come to terms with what the war meant.
This is especially so to the people who hold that the Civil War changed nothing and that if there were or are any changes, then these changes were minor. However, it is worth noting after an evaluation of the content within these essays that this war gave liberty a new definition. It also brings to the fore the fact that the federal government took up the role of being an agent of freedom contrary to being the enemy of the war.
McPherson, James M.
Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.