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Brought Forth on This Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration

Brought Forth on This Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration


Book Overview: Brought Forth on This Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration

From acclaimed Abraham Lincoln historian Harold Holzer, a groundbreaking account of Lincoln's grappling with the politics of immigration against the backdrop of the Civil War.

In the three decades before the Civil War, some ten million foreign-born people settled in the United States, forever altering the nation's demographics, culture, and--perhaps most significantly--voting patterns. America's newest residents fueled the national economy, but they also wrought enormous changes in the political landscape and exposed an ugly, at times violent, vein of nativist bigotry.

Abraham Lincoln's rise ran parallel to this turmoil; even Lincoln himself did not always rise above it. Tensions over immigration would split and ultimately destroy Lincoln's Whig Party years before the Civil War. Yet the war made clear just how important immigrants were, and how interwoven they had become in American society.

Harold Holzer, winner of the Lincoln Prize, charts Lincoln's political career through the lens of immigration, from his role as a member of an increasingly nativist political party to his evolution into an immigration champion, a progression that would come at the same time as he refined his views on abolition and Black citizenship. As Holzer writes, "The Civil War could not have been won without Lincoln's leadership; but it could not have been fought without the immigrant soldiers who served and, by the tens of thousands, died that the 'nation might live.'" An utterly captivating and illuminating work, Brought Forth on This Continent assesses Lincoln's life and legacy in a wholly original way, unveiling remarkable similarities between the nineteenth century and the twenty-first.

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Publication Date2024-02-13
EditionFirst Edition
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"As a brilliant historian with a keen sense of the passions and problems of our own time, Harold Holzer has given us a powerful and illuminating study of Abraham Lincoln and immigration--an issue of perennial significance. Like Lincoln himself, Holzer's new book is at once timely and timeless." — Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and author of the New York Times bestseller And There Was Light

"Harold Holzer has unwrapped yet another profoundly meaningful gift from Abraham Lincoln, as he has delved into Lincoln's evolving views on immigration that reveal his unwavering moral character, as well as his pragmatism and enduring optimism for the United States. This deeply researched and beautifully written book not only breaks new ground, but the revelations come at a pivotal moment in American history when we must strive, like Lincoln, for a better future for Americans regardless of their race, religion or national origin." — Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize winner and Lincoln Prize-winning author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

"In the 1850s, the issue of immigration proved as divisive in American politics as the issue of slavery. Many historians have written about Lincoln's role in the latter controversy, but Harold Holzer is one of the few who has wielded his golden pen in treatment of the former, in this splendid book that also analyzes the Union president's vital role in mobilizing the foreign-born population to help win the Civil War." — James M. McPherson, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era and winner of the Lincoln Prize

"Harold Holzer, our most prolific chronicler of the life of Abraham Lincoln, here gives us a Lincoln with whom we are not familiar. Lincoln's political career began in the Whig and Republican parties, both of which harbored strong nativist elements. Yet just as Lincoln's views on emancipation and Black citizenship evolved, so too did his understanding of immigrants' contributions not only to the Union war effort, but to American society more broadly. There is a lesson here for our own fraught times." — Eric Foner, author of The Fiery Trial , winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize

"An outstanding and important book on Lincoln and immigration. A must for readers of American history and immigration studies." — Library Journal

"Readable history... Of considerable interest to students of 19th-century American history as well as of the Civil War." — Kirkus

Harold Holzer is one of the United States' foremost authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era. Tampering his immense wealth of knowledge with eloquence, he has penned more than 50 books exploring diverse aspects of these complex figures and times. His prodigious contributions to history and literature have earned him the prestigious Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, making him a titan in American historiographical discourse. Holzer’s scholarly career is further complemented by a distinguished tenure in public service. Working as the Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, he instilled his understanding of the cultural past into shaping a relevant dialogue for the present. In both realms, Holzer's creativity, tenacity, and commitment to historical accuracy are widely recognized. His judicious blending of narrative verve and academic rigor has won him millions of readers who turn to his works for insights into America's 16th president and the Civil War era.

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