This is a book which is long overdue and one that treats Lincoln as an international figure, not merely an American one. It begins with his impassioned speech as a young Congressman objecting to the US invasion of Mexico in 1846 and the false information provided by President Polk at the time to convince Congress to declare a war (“American blood has been shed on American soil!”) Although other historians have mentioned Lincoln’s “spot resolutions” (“Show me the spot where American blood was shed…”) without exception they conclude that it was a political move. This book presents evidence that, not only was it not a calculated move, but was sheer folly, explicable only on moral grounds. The book proceeds to show the reader how Lincoln was lambasted in the press, had his political fortunes reversed, and yet, in letters to his law partner, assures him that he would do it again despite the consequences.
Lincoln’s affinity for Mexico and its people continues after he becomes president, in his cabinet choices and in day-to-day executive decisions. Although engaged in a bloody Civil War, he still makes time to meet with twenty-four-year-old Matías Romero, the Mexican consul, to assure him of his support for the Liberal government. Then, when Maximilian and the French invade and take over the country, he continues to meet with the now-uncredentialed “ambassador” to provide moral support, and ultimately, with the help of Grant and Sheridan, a path to financial and military aid. How American volunteers discharged at the end of the Civil War went to Mexico and helped defeat the French is a story little known. Lincoln’s legacy in this final chapter to the end of European occupation of the Americas is a revelation which this book documents from Mexican records and Romero’s diaries. Finally, Mrs.Lincoln, whom most historians either ignore or consider a liability to the administration, comes across much better in her dealings with the representatives of foreign governments.
This is the post excerpt.
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