The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln's Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America
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In this compelling narrative, renowned historian Roy Morris, Jr., expertly offers a new angle on two of America's most towering politicians and the intense personal rivalry that transformed both them and the nation they sought to lead in the dark days leading up to the Civil War.
For the better part of two decades, Stephen Douglas was the most famous and controversial politician in the United States, a veritable "steam engine in britches." Abraham Lincoln was merely Douglas's most persistent rival within their adopted home state of Illinois, known mainly for his droll sense of humor, bad jokes, and slightly nutty wife.
But from the time they first set foot in the Prairie State in the early 1830s, Lincoln and Douglas were fated to be political competitors. The Long Pursuit tells the dramatic story of how these two radically different individuals rose to the top rung of American politics, and how their personal rivalry shaped and altered the future of the nation during its most convulsive era. Indeed, had it not been for Douglas, who served as Lincoln's personal goad, pace horse, and measuring stick, there would have been no Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858, no Lincoln presidency in 1860, and perhaps no Civil War six months later. For both men—and for the nation itself—the stakes were that high.
Not merely a detailed political study, The Long Pursuit is also a compelling look at the personal side of politics on the rough-and-tumble western frontier. It shows us a more human Lincoln, a bare-knuckles politician who was not above trading on his wildly inaccurate image as a humble "rail-splitter," when he was, in fact, one of the nation's most successful railroad attorneys. And as the first extensive biographical study of Stephen Douglas in more than three decades, the book presents a long-overdue reassessment of one of the nineteenth century's more compelling and ultimately tragic figures, the one-time "Little Giant" of American politics.
had been vetted by a number of hands, most especially those of his newly designated secretary of state, William Seward. The conclusion, in particular, had been Seward’s idea, although Lincoln had improved upon it with his surprisingly delicate gift for language. “Guardian angel of the nation” had been changed to “the better angels of our nature,” and “ancient music” had been transformed into the infinitely more evocative “mystic chords of memory.” It was the difference between a statesman and a
tack, defending the primacy of the individual—black and white—against the intrusions of his often-domineering neighbors. “No man is good enough to govern another man, without that other’s consent,” he maintained. One way or another, it is a debate that still reverberates in American society.2 Race was the crucible in which the Lincoln-Douglas rivalry was fired. Ironically, it was the frontier-born Lincoln, a son of slave-state Kentucky, who better intuited the corrosive effect that slavery
Crittenden, John J., 201 Cuba, 66, 119, 122, 186 Culver, C. P., 148 Curtin, Andrew, 190 Cushing, Caleb, 142–43, 147, 151, 152, 165–66, 167, 168–69 Cutts, James Madison, 96 Cutts, James Madison, Jr., 117, 176, 191 Daily Southern Reveille, 118 Davis, David, 33, 54–55, 64, 77, 93, 99–100, 153, 160–61, 182, 190–91, 204 Davis, Jefferson, 7, 59, 65, 68, 72, 123–24, 136, 148, 156, 164–65, 170, 171, 172, 185, 201, 205 Dayton, William, 88, 162, 197 Declaration of Independence, 22, 75, 111,
District, a nine-county region along the Mississippi River that was the fastest-growing area in the state. Part of the reason for its rapid growth involved one of Douglas’s old Canandaigua, New York, neighbors, Mormon religious leader Joseph Smith, who had relocated his followers to Illinois after a brief and stormy stay in Missouri. Both the Democrats and the Whigs actively courted the Mormon vote, and Douglas took care to maintain friendly relations with Smith and his coreligionists. During his
and he immediately took to the campaign trail, setting out for New York City in late June to meet with prospective financial backers. En route, he stopped over in Philadelphia, where he declined (for once) to make a speech, saying only, “If my political opinions are not known to the people of the United States, it is not worthwhile for me to explain them now.”1 Accompanied by Adele, Douglas set up camp in New York at the luxurious Fifth Avenue Hotel. The couple was escorted up Broadway by a