Abraham Lincoln is now the best known American in history, but until he won the Republican presidential nomination in 1860 he was a comparatively obscure political leader and attorney from Springfield, Illinois. Yet James Oakes argues in the second chapter of his book, The Radical and the Republican (2007) that if Lincoln was little known, he was nonetheless entirely representative of an emerging antislavery consensus that was increasingly binding together the opponents of slavery on the basis of free soil principles. Students in History 117 should be able to explain Lincoln’s antebellum views about slavery and why both the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) and the Dred Scott Decision (1857) proved to be so pivotal in shaping his antislavery positions. Students should also use this opportunity before the field trip on Saturday to explore the House Divided website “Lincoln Douglas Debates Digital Classroom” which offers an array of tools for understanding Lincoln as a politician in the 1850s.
Office: Denny 218