Monday, September 25, 2023

Booknotes: Lincoln and California

New Arrival:

Lincoln and California: The President, the War, and the Golden State by Brian McGinty (Potomac Bks, 2023).

Even though Lincoln, like the majority of his fellow Americans of the period, never visited the Far West during his lifetime, its future (especially when it came to resolving the question of slavery) was very much in the minds of the future president and other leaders of his party. According to Brian McGinty, the author of Lincoln and California: The President, the War, and the Golden State, Lincoln even mentioned on numerous occasions a desire to settle his family in the state after the conclusion of his presidency.

McGinty's book "explains the relationship between the president and the Golden State, describing important events that took place in California and elsewhere during Lincoln’s lifetime. He includes the histories of Lincoln’s close friends and personal acquaintances who made history as they went to California, lived there, and helped to keep it part of the imperiled Union." In addition to subject matter mentioned above, the study also addresses the state's economic importance, Lincoln's Indian policy, and Lincoln remembrance in California.

Even though California voters rejected slavery, Confederate dreamers still envisioned that the state might somehow be transformed into a Pacific outpost of a continental Confederacy. Those unrealistic hopes were quashed relatively early in the war, and California, its volunteers spread all across the Pacific Coast, the Mountain West, and the Desert Southwest, ultimately assumed responsibility for many of the important tasks previously assigned to the Regular Army in those regions. That military history is recognized, but it is not a major focus of this particular study.

Lincoln and California "shines new light on an important state, a pivotal president, and a turning point in American history."

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