Ohio History Journal

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Lincoln the President: Springfield to Gettysburg. By J. G. Ran-

dall. (New York, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1945. 2v. $7.50.)

Although biographies of Abraham Lincoln have been written

in great profusion, this work, based on documentary sources and

a reevaluation of previously published materials, offers what might

be termed a "revisionist" point of view, or more properly, a res-

toration of historical truth. The author, conceiving his purpose

as both biography and history, has employed the laboratory

technique of modern historians in challenging certain myths and

misconceptions surrounding Lincoln and the Lincoln era.

The author traces the career of Lincoln from his early days

in Springfield to Gettysburg. Against a background of the political,

social, and economic conditions of the period, the author rapidly

reviews Lincoln's service in the Illinois legislature (1834-41), out-

lines his undistinguished service in Congress (1847-49), restudies

his life with Mary Lincoln, and sketches his success as a practicing

attorney. It is shown that Lincoln's backwoods setting and rail-

splitting were of much less significance than his cultural associa-

tions. Because of his aristocratic marriage and his partnership

with the socially prominent John Todd Stuart, his political oppo-

nents soon labeled him as a candidate of "pride, wealth, and family

distinction." Indeed, by the forties and fifties he was one of the

outstanding lawyers in Illinois rendering service to, and collecting

substantial fees from such concerns as the Illinois Central Railroad.

Lincoln's retirement from Congress and his return to the

practice of law marked a period of political frustration in his

career. The revival of the sectional controversy, occasioned by the

passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, made him the logical oppo-

nent of Stephen A. Douglas for the Illinois senatorship. In dis-

cussing Lincoln's oratorical contest with Douglas, Mr. Randall is

inclined to believe that Douglas' popular sovereignty doctrine was

the correct solution of the territorial problem. The debates, it ap-

pears, added little to a clarification of the sectional issue.