Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory

Harold Holzer, Author
Harold Holzer. Harvard Univ, $24.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-674-06440-9
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 02/01/2012
Hardcover - 254 pages - 978-0-674-06828-5
Hardcover - 254 pages - 978-0-674-06520-8
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Holzer, who won a prize for his analysis of Lincoln’s 1860 speech at Cooper Union, now examines the Emancipation Proclamation. The book, based on a series of lectures at Harvard in 2010, outlines Lincoln’s approach to drafting the document and creating a climate for its acceptance; reactions to the text, especially the disappointment on the part of some that it lacked “grandeur or Book of Exodus fervor”; and changing depictions of it and of Lincoln, first as the Great Emancipator, later “generic hero of national unity,” or simply a great leader. Tracing the history of the iconography of Lincoln and the Proclamation, Holzer deftly leads readers through American racial politics from the Civil War to the election of President Obama. Readers lacking Holzer’s expertise could use more particulars on Lincoln’s juggling of possible political ruin, the abolition of slavery, and the pursuit of Union victory. Images of the Proclamation and political cartoons shed light on the text and its reception in 1863. (Feb.)
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