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I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came… Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis in a photograph by Matthew Brady

Two roads to Sumter : Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis and the march to civil war    Edison, Castle Books, 2004  William & Bruce Catton United States History Civil War, 1861-1865 Causes Hardcover. 285 p. 25 cm. Includes index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Using the early lives and careers of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis as theme and framework, two historians outline some of the steps in the tragic march to the Civil War.

By showing how these two major figures – both Kentucky born – developed divergent attitudes. Davis could trace his family back to Wales and through immediate ancestors who had served in the American War for Independence as well as the War of 1812. Lincoln, born in a log cabin, had a father who went broke speculating in land titles and no known ancestry to speak of. The constant themes in American history of the sons of substance who dedicate themselves to the public service, as Davis did, against the unknown sons of opportunism who claim to hear and speak with the voice of the people – while being bought and paid for by other hidden voices, has rarely found a more perfect expression. Unfortunately the Cattons slight Davis by omission and promote Lincoln by accepting the inflated record of his posthumous champions.

The Cattons simultaneously reveal why the north and South became increasingly isolated from each other during the 1850s, showing how the railroads, land-hungry westward expansion, and developing industrial and agricultural empires demanded a new aristocracy of money to replace the old one of land. Speculation became king, Lincoln was its servant, and Davis was swept aside by the tide of greed and the necessities it engendered. It is too bad Davis was not a more sympathetic figure for then we might appreciate what was lost.

Abraham Lincoln in a photography by Matthew Brady

 

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