Crisis of the House Divided is the standard historiography of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Harry Jaffa provides the definitive analysis of the political principles that guided Lincoln from his reentry into politics in 1854 through his Senate campaign against Douglas in 1858. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original publication, Jaffa has provided a new introductiCrisis of the House Divided is the standard historiography of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Harry Jaffa provides the definitive analysis of the political principles that guided Lincoln from his reentry into politics in 1854 through his Senate campaign against Douglas in 1858. To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the original publication, Jaffa has provided a new introduction."Crisis of the House Divided has shaped the thought of a generation of Abraham Lincoln and Civil War scholars."—Mark E. Needly, Jr., Civil War History"An important book about one of the great episodes in the history of the sectional controversy. It breaks new ground and opens a new view of Lincoln's significance as a political thinker."—T. Harry Williams, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences"A searching and provocative analysis of the issues confronted and the ideas expounded in the great debates. . . . A book which displays such learning and insight that it cannot fail to excite the admiration even of scholars who disagree with its major arguments and conclusions."—D. E. Fehrenbacher, American Historical Review (20090717)...
|Title||:||Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates|
|Number of Pages||:||472 Pages|
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Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates Reviews
The ultimate guide to the Lincoln-Douglas debates and a must-read for anyone interested in U.S. history.
It is said that more books have been written about Abraham Lincoln than about any other person with the exception of Jesus. I'd suggest that if you want to read one book about Lincoln's thought, this should be the one. Stephen Douglas, the most powerful member of the Senate and a likely Democratic candidate for president, authored the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, repealing the Missouri Compromise. Lincoln, whose public career was seemingly at an end, emerged as the leading opponent of the Act in Illinois. After his celebrated debates against Douglas in the Senate campaign of 1858, he was the intellectual leader of the anti-Kansas-Nebraska forces nationally. Lincoln maintained that the Missouri Compromise, by controlling the spread of slavery in the territories gave assurance that slavery was on an "ultimate course of extinction." The repeal of the Compromise, in his view, compounded by the Dred Scott decision of 1857 raised the horrifying prospect that slavery might spread to the nation as a whole and become permanently established. When Jaffa wrote this book, the prevailaing opinion among historians was that Lincoln's fervent opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act was unnecessary. Slavery would never have spread to Kansas, according to the historians, regardless of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Lincoln stirred up the nation to such conflict for his own political gain that an unnecessary Civil War became inevitable. Jaffa's book opposed that view. Jaffa maintained that the historians make complacent assumptions about the likelihood of the spread of slavery that are doubtful at best, and that Lincoln's position was deeply rooted in correct principles. Following an introduction setting forth the terms of the debate, Jaffa first presents in extended form the case for Douglas. He treats Douglas with respect and shows Douglas to have had a serious, responsible position. Because Douglas was not as articulate as Lincoln, Jaffa has to tease Douglas' position out of the stances Douglas took on numerous specific issues. As a result, these chapters are historically dense and will be difficult reading for anyone not pretty conversant with American history from 1846-1860. But stay with it. You will be able to get the gist, and the payoff that will follow will be well worth the trouble. Next come two long chapters analyzing two of Lincoln's early speeches, the Lyceum Address and the Temperance Address. The speeches are short and you will want to read them before reading these chapters. Jaffa's analyses, though occasionally a bit over the top, are brilliant. Then comes the high point of the book, the chapters setting forth Lincoln's position in his struggle with Douglas in the 1850s. They are as good a statement of Lincoln's views as you will find. In spots they rise to magnificent eloquence.
Well-written history of the Lincoln-Douglas debates that looks at the underlying assumptions of both sides. The author assumes that the reader already has a great deal of familiarity with the issues surrounding the debates, and he often references other scholars on the topic. Therefore, I would not recommend this to the general reader, but would whole-heartedly recommend it to the 19th century American history/Civil War buff.
Quite simply the finest work of American political science in the 20th century. Jaffa does not hesitate to deploy his enormous erudition and compositional talent against various dominant schools of historical and philosophical thought; several do not survive the encounter. Lincoln emerges in all his glory.One warning: Jaffa is a bold writer of great power and subtlety. The reader would do well to maintain a certain detachment from his pedagogic charms, lest he be carried away.
Early counter attack against the Bumbling Generation and needless war themes in Civil War studies. It still has a strong case. Though it is old it is important reading for serious Lincoln studies and a counter to the mythic anti-Lincoln bashing still common in very conservative circles.
This scholarly book delves deeply into the differences between Lincoln and Douglas's political philosophy. The book provides many amazing insights on both a micro and macro level and sets forth the differences in a way that still reverberate in today's political environment. (Douglas sounds a lot like the non-crazy version of very conservative republicans and Lincoln, well he's Lincoln).Jaffa does the reader a favor by taking Douglas' arguments seriously, saving him from the 1850's version of George Wallace. Douglas, Jaffe argued, was truly dedicated to the theory of local rule. He thought anything requirement from the federal government on slavery would amount to the tyranny that the founders fought to escape. For Douglas, "we the people" was the founding and ultimate principle. His noncommittal attitude toward slavery made sense given his official position - if people should decide why should Douglas care. Yet, Jaffe indicates that Douglas did think that his method would eliminate slavery. Most recent new states were non-slavery and the proportion of slave states was much less than when the union started.This raises the question were both Lincoln and Douglass shooting for the same aim of eliminating slavery through different means, with Douglass having the better (or at least as reasonable good argument). Well, no. First Jaffe discounts Douglass arguments saying that the new non-slave states were influenced by the fact that federal gov did prohibit slavery.Yet, in the end the real debate is about the proper role of government particularly the federal government. For Douglass, we the people - democracy was an end to itself. Not so for Lincoln. For him, it was “all men are created equal” that had to be the guide that democracy strove toward. While Lincoln was true to the spirit of the original meaning, yet expanded the meaning. Jaffa argues that Lincoln expands the spirit. The original intent of the declaration was in line with Locke’s negative rights - the minimalist amount of rights needed to be free from a dictator. Lincoln sets the declaration as an aspiration something that can never quite be reach but must always be striven to. Lincoln understands that democracy qua democracy was not an organizing principle to hold a union together of people to govern themselves.The book is written for academia and gets into a level of detail that most readers don’t need. Jaffa is also engaging in arguments with other academics that is not really all that interesting. Yet, the parts that are relevant are brilliant. For those interested in political philosophy and the role of government - this is a must read.
An interesting, dense book which analyzed not the actual Lincoln Douglas debates for the US Senate in 1858, but the issues on which the debate revolved. Published originally in 1959, it looked to over turn the then-current historiography which down played the importance of the debates. Jaffa more of a political philosopher than a historian, really parses the arguments of each man, calling forth the larger political and philosophical questions embedded within. He easily calls forth Aristotle, Locke, classical thinkers, and then modern political philosophies. Jaffa often pulled his analysis into the modern issues that swirled around the time of his writing. His observations are sharp, as well as his writing. I have to admit, however, that being so dense, at times it was hard to keep focused on the text. I admit I wasn't able to get through all of it and skipped parts (especially the four chapters on the Missouri Compromise, as well as some of the chapters on Lincoln. I think he is very fair with Douglas, who is too easily dismissed for his stance. He comes across as a caring, patriotic politician who was trying to save the nation of deep fracture, however flawed his arguments were. Lincoln comes across as thoughtful and strategic. I would consider reading it again, but when I go, it will be with a pen and notepad (or laptop), something to take noes and make comments. I needed something to sort and make sense of everything that was coming my way as a reader.
One of the most important books on Lincoln (technically the Linc-Doug Debates) of the last 65 years.
An important philosophical look at the issues for political scientists, but it's dated and high-handedly boring at times.