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Lincoln and the Decision for WarThe Northern Response to Secession$
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Russell McClintock

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831885

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807886328_mcclintock

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Conclusion: Shall It Be Peace, or a Sword?

Conclusion: Shall It Be Peace, or a Sword?

(p.275) Conclusion: Shall It Be Peace, or a Sword?
Lincoln and the Decision for War

Gary W. Gallagher

University of North Carolina Press

In conclusion, this book discusses Lincoln's challenge to secessionists to follow a course that would avert war. Seeing four possible outcomes of the crisis—compromise, peaceable secession, the use of force, or a Southern retreat from disunion—it was characteristic of Lincoln that he arrived at his conclusion through use of the most basic tool of Euclidean geometry, the syllogism. It is the nature of the syllogism that the conclusion follows only if the premises are true. During the secession winter a great many of Lincoln's fellow Northerners disputed his, particularly with regard to compromise and the probable results of force. It is also the nature of politics that reality is rarely, if ever, so black and white that it can be reduced to a syllogism; through much of the crisis Northerners saw not three clear and distinct options on their part but a range of possible courses.

Keywords:   secessionists, Lincoln's challenge, compromise, peaceable secession, use of force, disunion

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