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Collaborators for Emancipation

Collaborators for Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Collaborators for Emancipation
    Book Description:

    Few expected politician Abraham Lincoln and Congregational minister Owen Lovejoy to be friends when they met in 1854. One was a cautious lawyer who deplored abolitionists' flouting of the law, the other an outspoken antislavery activist who captained a stop on the Underground Railroad. Yet the two built a relationship that, in Lincoln's words, "was one of increasing respect and esteem." In Collaborators for Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy, the authors examine the thorny issue of the pragmatism typically ascribed to Lincoln versus the radicalism of Lovejoy, and the role each played in ending slavery. Exploring the men's politics, personal traits, and religious convictions, the book traces their separate paths in life as well as their frequent interactions. Collaborators for Emancipation shows how Lincoln and Lovejoy influenced one another and analyzes the strategies and systems of belief each brought to the epic controversies of slavery versus abolition and union versus disunion. This multifaceted work of history and biography reveals how Lincoln embraced the radical idea of emancipation, and how Lovejoy shaped his own radicalism to wield the pragmatic political tools needed to reach that ultimate goal.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09634-1
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Lincoln’s Words of Remembrance
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    In human history, it is the relation that matters. Owen Lovejoy and Abraham Lincoln were remarkable men with a remarkable relationship. Lincoln confirmed that “every step in it has been one of increasing respect and esteem.” Their mutual trust grew as they saw things as they were while holding a radical vision of what could be. This approach provided them the pragmatic ability to better know what to do and how to do it. Collaborating, they made a major contribution to moving the nation toward emancipation. For more than five decades, historians Edward Magdol, Hans Trefousse, Frederick Blue, Richard Carwardine,...


    • 1 Hating the Zeal to Spread Slavery, 1854
      (pp. 11-18)

      Springfield lawyer Abraham Lincoln and Princeton pastor Owen Lovejoy met for the first time on a muddy afternoon at the Springfield State Fair on October 4, 1854.¹ The speeches of the day were moved inside to the stately Hall of Representatives in the newly constructed State Capitol. At that time, both Lincoln and Lovejoy were fuming over a new federal law that Illinois Democratic senator Stephen A. Douglas had championed through Congress during the preceding May, the Kansas-Nebraska Act. In 1820, after protracted and contentious negotiations, Missouri had been allowed to enter the Union as a slave state on condition...

    • 2 Traversing Uneven Political Ground, 1855
      (pp. 19-37)

      In the winter of 1855, the Democrats, though the largest minority party, were unable to negotiate a deal to maintain control of the Illinois General Assembly, leaving a power vacuum. The work of Ichabod Codding, Zebina Eastman, and Owen Lovejoy in creating a fusion of the factions opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act created a storm of political maneuvering. As the Democrats floundered, the Whigs ebbed, and the antislavery Republicans rose, Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy found a new wave that within eighteen months would push them together into the future.

      Over the preceding seventeen years, both men had built up...

    • 3 Standing Together Nobly, 1856
      (pp. 38-50)

      The Republican Steering Committee, meeting in the office of theChicago Tribune, decided that the fall of 1855 was not the appropriate time to call an anti-Nebraska convention to organize the various factions opposed to the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Neither Abraham Lincoln nor Lyman Trumbull was ready to relinquish his political identity, and various Whig and Democratic newspapers were not ready to support plans for fusion. However, the anti-Nebraska factions, especially the Republicans, faced the reality that the Republicans had been pilloried by much of the Illinois public. Remarks against abolitionists appeared with increasing frequency in both Whig and Democratic newspapers...

    • 4 Disputing the Supreme Court Decision, 1857
      (pp. 51-63)

      Both Abraham Lincoln and Owen Lovejoy disparaged the Supreme Court’s political abuse of judicial power displayed in the Dred Scott decision written by Chief Justice Roger Taney. They abhorred the Court’s interpretation that the Constitution provided federal authority to reduce human beings to property without rights. Both waited for an opportune moment to fasten the abuses of the justices and of southern slaveholders securely onto the public mind. The 1856 caning of Senator Charles Sumner on the Senate floor had represented a stark symbol of southern power’s encroachment on northern rights and interests, but the Dred Scott decision alerted even...

    • 5 Trusting Those Who Care for the Results, 1858
      (pp. 64-77)

      Abraham Lincoln ended a politically sensitive March 8, 1958, letter to Owen Lovejoy, “Let this be strictly confidential…. I have some valued friends who would not like me any the better for writing it.”¹ This cautionary tone demonstrates that Lincoln trusted Lovejoy enough to risk giving him candid information. Lincoln was taking risks to win the favor of the more radical opponents of slavery.

      Lincoln also gave Lovejoy a friendly warning about some machinations against his reelection in DeWitt County, the most conservative county in Lovejoy’s congressional district. The details represent a significant step in the relationship between the two...

    • 6 Remaining Steadfast to the Right, 1859
      (pp. 78-89)

      With Owen Lovejoy winning by a wider margin in 1858 and Abraham Lincoln winning the support of legislators representing the majority of voters though losing in the state legislature, both men were positioned to enhance the opportunities for a Republican victory in Illinois in 1860. They were recognized leaders in the state as well as known in national circles. Lincoln’s debates with Stephen A. Douglas received extensive coverage in local newspapers, and the telegraph, a recent invention, quickly spread the news of their intriguing interplay to major cities across the nation. Douglas’s attacks on Lovejoy in the debates and Lovejoy’s...

    • 7 Disenchanting the Nation of Slavery, 1860
      (pp. 90-104)

      In his politically diverse Illinois, Abraham Lincoln had learned to harness various political forces and pull them together. Could he transfer this knowledge to a wider political arena? His verbal slings during his debates with the popular Stephen A. Douglas fit a good David and Goliath story line. His friends had spread the story of the emergence of a strong, rail-splitting young man from a meager background. But Lincoln knew he needed more national exposure if he was to win the presidency as a compromise candidate from a necessary state.

      In Illinois, Owen Lovejoy had been instrumental in convincing the...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)

    • 8 Holding Firmly to Their Promises, 1861
      (pp. 107-122)

      Shortly after midnight on November 7, 1860, amid boisterous cheers and clanging church bells, an exuberant Abraham Lincoln hurried to his Springfield home, where he announced to his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, “We are elected.”¹ The next day, he wrote down the names of eight of his most helpful advisers, six of whom would become members of his cabinet.²

      At the same time, South Carolina senator James Henry Hammond was struggling with his response to Alfred Aldrich, a leading state legislator and disunionist. On one hand, Hammond was advocating a delaying tactic to move the Secession Convention from December to...


    • 9 Restoring the Founding Purposes, 1862
      (pp. 125-142)

      Despite the military, political, social, and economic crises that beset the United States in 1862, national elected officials confronted an array of new opportunities. With the representatives of the slaveholding states having withdrawn from Congress, Republicans had clear majorities in both the House and the Senate. Abraham Lincoln in the White House and Owen Lovejoy in the House of Representatives were poised to start remaking the country in keeping with their vision. They saw themselves as working to hold together the Union while restoring the Founding Fathers’ ideology as articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

      Events leading up to and...

    • 10 Assuring That the Nation Would Long Endure, 1863
      (pp. 143-153)

      On New Year’s Eve, across the nation, diverse constituencies were gearing up to express their responses to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Some shared the anxiety held by Senator Orville Browning, who predicted that white officers would resign and white soldiers would not reenlist if black recruits joined the Union Army.¹ A newly enlisted white officer wrote from the front, “The president’s proclamation is of course received with universal disgust, particularly the part which enjoins officers to see that it is carried out. You may be sure that we shan’t see to any thing of the kind, having decidedly...

    • 11 Binding Up the Nation’s Wounds, 1864
      (pp. 154-158)

      Owen Lovejoy’s opportunity to assist in shaping Abraham Lincoln’s legacy came unexpectedly in December 1863, when well-known painter Francis Carpenter invited Lovejoy to visit his studio in New York City. Carpenter asked for Lovejoy’s assistance in encouraging Lincoln to sit for a composite portrait depicting the moment when Lincoln read the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet.¹ Lovejoy eagerly supported Carpenter’s endeavor, believing that the life-size portrait would convey tremendous symbolism and would help cement Lincoln’s reputation as the Great Emancipator. On February 5, Carpenter went to the Lovejoy residence and found him feeble but optimistic: he told the painter,...

  9. Appendix
    (pp. 159-162)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 163-188)
  11. Index
    (pp. 189-196)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 197-198)