December 6, 2008
The Age of Lincoln: Orville Vernon Burton
The history of the United States of America is full of war, peace, family, God, hope, depression, and prosperity, but no story or event shaped this country more than the great civil war. Orville Vernon Burton’s book, The Age of Lincoln, tells the fascinating history of nineteenth century America through active, energetic interpretation. Burton presents his thesis and thoughts on this era using a couple of great ideas to produced a commanding narrative history of American social and intellectual life from the time of slavery up to the period of Jim Crow.
Burton does not waste any time cutting strait to the core of this period. He begins his book with the first sentence saying, “Rivers of blood flowed as Americans turned against each other…” This first sentence catches the reader off guard but at the same time hits you strait upside the head as says this real. Though this period in American history clearly shaped the way society is today, it remains a black mark against this county that its own people would kill each other in war, brothers against brothers, and families against families.
Burton’s ideas of what shaped this era to result into an all-out war hang on a few good points. First that religious views and moral convictions brought an ongoing battle between the country before the war was even foreseen. That Americans had different views for what direction this country should go in but that the same God would lead it there. Burton also does not waste anytime in placing African Americans at the center of this story. Although many historical books place emphasis on the struggle between White northerners and southern slave owners as the root cause for the war, Burton places African Americans as leading participants.
Burton idolizes one man in this book as the leading role in nineteenth century America, this man in Abraham...