Abraham Lincoln and American political religion by Glen E. Thurow

By Glen E. Thurow

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32 Behind a facade of charitable sentiment, Lincoln is responsible for the horrors of civil war. His rhetoric hides a cruelty to match that of Robespierre. " The presumed moral principles for which the war was waged are derived from this superstition. These moral principles however, are illusions. They lead to war, and war is not moral, but cruel. Rather than securing the safety and allowing the happiness of the people, these "moral principles" bring on the unspeakable miseries of war. Yet the men who send the armies to battle do not accept responsibility for these miseries.

The tension of the speech is felt in the wariness with which Lincoln presents the perils he sees, in his repeated return to the question of whether any danger exists, and in his explicit characterization of the views of his audience regarding this threat. He begins by identifying himself and his audience as united in a community of circumstance and opinion: In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American People, find our account running, under the date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era.

The Second Inaugural and the Limits of Politics 88 VI. Conclusion: Transcending Politics 109 Notes 120 Selected Bibliography 127 Index 130 Page vii Acknowledgements I am indebted, above all, to Professor Harvey C. Mansfield, Jr. of Harvard University who guided the production of the original of this book. One could not have asked for more gentle nor more incisive guidance. How does one express his debt to a true teacher? This book would not exist without the encouragement and assistance of Professor Richard Cox of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

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