Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War

Article excerpt

Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War. By Howard Jones. (Lincoln, Neb., and London: University of Nebraska Press, c. 1999. Pp. xiv, 236. $29.95, ISBN 0-8032-2582-2.)

Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom is an examination of the sources and nature of Lincoln's Unionism and hostility toward slavery, and the critical effect his commitments to the preservation of the Union and slave emancipation had on British and French interventionist policies during the American Civil War. Lincoln's absolute and unwavering commitment to preserving and ultimately perfecting the Union, and the evolution of his policy on slavery from containment to emancipation, clashed with the convictions of British and French officials who regarded the reunification of the United States as impossible and who believed that slavery would remain untouched by the fruitless and therefore unjustified war. The book covers British and French interventionism between 1861 and 1865 and expands upon themes author Howard Jones developed in his previous study of British intervention between 1860 and 1862.

Jones argues that Lincoln's initial emphasis on preserving the Union and his promise that he would not interfere with slavery where it existed allowed British and French officials to adopt policies based on national interest: for Britain, that meant access to southern cotton; for France, it meant the creation of a client state in Mexico and commercial empire in the Americas. As in his earlier study, Jones faults the British for their superficial understanding of the American struggle, but he also harshly judges Napoleon III. Jones criticizes leaders in both Britain and France for failing to grasp the danger in their programs of involvement in the American war. …

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