Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Booknotes: Lincoln's Pathfinder

New Arrival:
Lincoln's Pathfinder: John C. Fremont and the Violent Election of 1856 by John Bicknell (Chicago Review Pr, 2017).

Though James Buchanan triumphed over John C. Fremont in the contest for the office of the U.S. presidency in 1856, the Republican showing was impressive enough to convince its followers that future victory was in the cards, even with a complete absence of southern votes. The 1856 results are commonly viewed as a harbinger of national electoral victory sooner rather than later, but, at least in comparison to 1860, the election itself hasn't received a great deal of attention in the popular literature. As the title suggests, this important event is the chief consideration of John Bicknell's new book Lincoln's Pathfinder: John C. Fremont and the Violent Election of 1856.

From the description: "The 1856 presidential race was the most violent peacetime election in American history. War between proslavery and antislavery settlers raged in Kansas; a congressman shot an Irish immigrant at a Washington hotel; and another congressman beat a US senator senseless on the floor of the Senate. But amid all the violence, the campaign of the new Republican Party, headed by famed explorer John C. Frémont, offered a ray of hope: a major party dedicated to limiting the spread of slavery. For the first time, women and African Americans actively engaged in a presidential contest, and the candidate’s wife, Jessie Benton Frémont, played a central role in both planning and executing strategy, and was a public face of the campaign. Even enslaved blacks in the South took hope from Frémont’s crusade."

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