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Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the Present (Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807153833
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: LSU Press - April 7th, 2014

most Americans count Abraham Lincoln among the most beloved and admired
former presidents, a dedicated minority has long viewed him as not only
the worst president in the country’s history but also as a criminal who
defied the Constitution and advanced federal power and the idea of
racial equality. In Loathing Lincoln, historian John McKee Barr
surveys the broad array of criticisms about Abraham Lincoln that
emerged when he stepped onto the national stage, expanded during the
Civil War, and continued to evolve after his death and into the

The first panoramic study of Lincoln’s critics, Barr’s work offers both
an analysis of Lincoln in historical memory and an examination of how
his critics—on both the right and left—have frequently reflected the
anxiety and discontent Americans felt about their lives. From northern
abolitionists upset about the slow pace of emancipation, to Confederates
who condemned him as a “black Republican” and despot, to Americans who
blamed him for the civil rights movement, to, more recently,
libertarians who accuse him of trampling the Constitution and creating
the modern welfare state, Lincoln’s detractors have always been a vocal
minority, but not one without influence.

By meticulously exploring the most significant arguments against
Lincoln, Barr traces the rise of the president’s most strident critics
and links most of them to a distinct right-wing or neo-Confederate
political agenda. According to Barr, their hostility to a more
egalitarian America and opposition to any use of federal power to bring
about such goals led them to portray Lincoln as an imperialistic
president who grossly overstepped the bounds of his office. In contrast,
liberals criticized him for not doing enough to bring about
emancipation or ensure lasting racial equality. Lincoln’s conservative
and libertarian foes, however, constituted the vast majority of his
detractors. More recently, Lincoln’s most vociferous critics have
adamantly opposed Barack Obama and his policies, many of them
referencing Lincoln in their attacks on the current president. In
examining these individuals and groups, Barr’s study provides a deeper
understanding of American political life and the nation itself.