Beginning with the argument that the Emancipation Proclamation did not actually free African American slaves, this dissenting view of Lincoln's greatness surveys the president's policies, speeches, and private utterances and concludes that he had little real interest in abolition. Pointing to Lincoln's support for the fugitive slave laws, his friendship with slave-owning senator Henry Clay, and conversations in which he entertained the idea of deporting slaves in order to create an all-white nation, the book, concludes that the president was a racist at heart—and that the tragedies of Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era were the legacy of his shallow moral vision.
Does what a great history book should--gives a different perspective
By Alan Mills - September 17, 2005
Lerone Bennett has accomplished a feat few historians have tried, and at which even fewer have succeded--giving us a new perspective on Abraham lincoln and his presidency.
It is by now well established that the Emancipation Proclamation did not, in fact, free anyone--it applied only to those areas of the Confederacy over which the union exerted no control. However, Bennett takes this well established fact and goes much, much further. By adopting the perspective of the slave, he demonstrates that not only didn't Lincoln free anyone, but he in fact succeeded in postponing freedom for hundreds of thousands of slaves. Prior to the Proclamation, Congress had already enacted the Confiscation Act, which authorized the Army to free the slaves of anyone in rebellion against the United States. the effect of the Proclamation was to stop the Confiscation Act from being enforced--thus relegating every slave in territory conquered by the Union Armies to additional months of... read more
Lincoln Died for Our Sins?
By Clay W. Sigg - July 30, 2000
Once you've read this book, you will never look at Abraham Lincoln in the same way. Bennett writes a polemic here, but it is a well-researched and passionate effort. Although some of his conclusions are suspect, I respect the basic premise of this book, which is that Lincoln was a thorough going racist. Bennett proves that Lincoln's political mentor was Senator Henry Clay, a Kentucky slave owner. Lincoln exhibited racist speech using the pejorative for "Negro" up until the last days of his life. He consistently frequented "black face" comedy shows that denigrated blacks in stereotypical ways. Lincoln always supported fugitive slave laws in Illinois and nationally. The Lincoln described by Bennett completely missed the concept of full emancipation for all African Americans. His lukewarm Emancipation Proclamation was only an attempt to stave off the radical abolitionists who were pressing for full freedom for all Black Americans. Lincoln's Proclamation promised... read more
Another Side of Lincoln
By Ted Ficklen - May 17, 2000
This is the most interesting book about Lincoln since Gore Vidal wrote his novel. Mr Bennett's Lincoln is not the familiar figure of Carl Sandburg's bio, but still believable. Bennett, author of Before The Mayflower, gives us a pragmatic, ambitious, scheming Politician. Lincoln apparently didn't care much for black people personally, enjoyed the racist humor of the time, and may have actually been a racist himself. Bennett makes a convincing case that Lincoln would rather have sent black slaves back to Africa instead of integrating them into post-Civil War society. This is a fascinating portrayal. The only reason I dont give it five stars is that I am not yet sure how to square this with all the other Lincoln books I've read.