History and Research Writing
Lowell Harrison, Kentucky historian, author and Professor of History at Western Kentucky College, in Lincoln of Kentucky, has written a well in depth study of Abraham Lincoln for those who desire to know more about his life and in particular ties to Kentucky, how they effected his life and the Civil War. Harrison’s Lincoln of Kentucky is not meant to be received by his audience as a biography or study of history of the Civil war in Kentucky. It is meant for those who wish to learn about his “interrelationship with Kentucky, thorough his life, with emphasis on the Civil War years.#” The reoccurring theme throughout the book ...view middle of the document...
The author provides adequate information in regards to how the Lincolns came to dwell in Kentucky and how Abraham Lincolns parents had come to meet. It is during theses years his connection to Kentucky is established, not only was he born there but he would have his first memories. In these chapters Lincolns relationship with his family is the main focus and his father in particular. These chapters work up to the point to were Lincoln is on his own and gaining interest in politics and law. Leading up to his first encounter with running for state legislator in Illinois, his first and last defeat by direct vote of the people (40). Lincoln during this time is developing friendships with many Kentuckians in the Northern states such as his law partner and good friend for the rest of his life Herndon, and find himself gaining in political power, winning a seat to the Illinois house of Representatives and eventually Congress.
It is in the next chapters Harrison transitions from Lincolns childhood and coming of age to his political career and the topic of slavery that would lead to the Civil War, the issue and the war that would define Lincoln. Lincoln due to his seat in Congress and relationships with Kentuckians, such as the three women he courted from Kentucky and there families, had made many influential connections. The issue of slavery at this time was of heated debate within the nation and houses. Lincoln was born in a slave state, and married to the daughter of a slave-owner, his political idol Henry Clay was a slave owner but still Lincoln saw the evils of slavery and believed it to be on its way to extinction (4). This issue Lincoln would grow stronger against saying in his debates later with Douglas, “No man has the right to govern another man…” (88).
Lincoln had participated in the Fugitive slave act, Missouri Compromise, Kansas-Nebraska Act, and witnessed the minor war in Kansas and John Brown’s Raid. Lincoln had to take a stance and it was for the Union’s success and against slavery. Harrison moves into Lincolns presidency and the succession movement, never forgetting the voice of Kentuckians by quoting primary sources in favor and against Lincoln. Kentucky was torn at this time, and Lincoln with it, Lincoln knew he had to keep Kentucky in Union grasp and could not lose her, “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the whole game” (135). Lincoln knew Kentuckians, how they thought, lived, and he played them skillfully and cautiously allowing the Unionist to gain control in Kentucky, and by allowing Kentucky to keep its neutrality the state would eventually swing in his favor. (135) Kentucky was ninth in population, seventh in value of farms, fifth in value of livestock, would have ranked high in industry amongst Confederate states and provide a line of transportation on the Ohio that could have caused a rift between the Union separating there lines to the Great Lakes. Lincoln knew this and reputing said he liked to have “God on his side...