Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and His Age

Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and His Age

Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and His Age

Patricide in the House Divided: A Psychological Interpretation of Lincoln and His Age

Excerpt

Sentiment is the great conservative principle of society.

HENRY T. TUCKERMAN, 1856

The leaders of American politics and culture in the middle decades of the nineteenth century belonged to a generation that was born and socialized in the early Republic, when the memory of the Revolution was still fresh and the founding heroes still held political power. This book argues that this simple fact provides a key to understanding more clearly not only the mentality of mid-century leadership but also the structure and style of the long struggle to preserve the Union and hence the origins of the American Civil War. In the course of explaining what I mean by this assertion I will make particular use of two terms which, though their meaning will become fully clear only as the argument builds, should be fixed with some precision here at the start.

The first of these is sentiment. In 1845 Alexander Sims, a Democratic congressman from South Carolina, spoke in protest against the pervasive influence in public matters of a sensibility that was peculiar to his lifetime. Speaking in the House . . .

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