by Louise L. Stevenson
Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015. Pp. xii, 280.
Illus. tables, notes, biblio., index. $29.99 paper. ISBN: 1107524237
Lincoln and the World
This interesting work by Prof. Stevenson (Franklin & Marshall) sets Lincoln, and the Civil War, firmly within the global political stage, a setting usually ignored in popular culture and scholarship alike.
Stevenson shows how, despite his lack of a formal education, well before his presidency Lincoln had long been interested in foreign affairs, educating himself by wide reading, and keeping abreast of political thought, liberal movements, and the growing international campaign against slavery, while developing a strong sense that the United States was a symbol of human progress. At the same time, Stevenson shows us how the international community was both aware of and influenced by events in the United States, viewed widely as the champion of democratic republicanism, well before Lincoln emerged as a major political figure, as demonstrated during the European revolutions of 1848, when several newly installed liberal governments reached out to the United States, and President Andrew Jackson spoke officially about the brutal suppression of the Hungarian Republic.
Stevenson divides the book into a series of “lessons” – African, International Law, European, German, etc. – to illustrate the ways in which Lincoln encountered, absorbed, and adapted ideas about liberty, republicanism, slavery, even war making. She concludes by discussing the international reaction to his assassination, as expressions of grief and sympathy were made not only by governments on all the inhabited continents, but also from enormous numbers of ordinary people.
An important contribution to Lincoln studies, Lincoln in the Atlantic World is worth reading by anyone interested in the Civil War of course, but also by those seeking to understand the influence of the Republic in the world.
Note: Lincoln in the Atlantic World is also available in several e-editions