The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln
On Sale: November 3, 2008
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Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln were the preeminent
self-made men of their time. In this masterful dual
biography, award-winning HarvardUniversity scholar John
Stauffer describes the transformations in the lives of these
two giants during a major shift in cultural history, when
men rejected the status quo and embraced new ideals of
personal liberty. As Douglass and Lincoln reinvented
themselves and ultimately became friends, they transformed
Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal
schooling, and became the nation's greatest president.
Douglass spent the first twenty years of his life as a
slave, had no formal schooling-in fact, his masters forbade
him to read or write-and became one of the nation's greatest
writers and activists, as well as a spellbinding orator and
messenger of audacious hope, the pioneer who blazed the path
traveled by future African-American leaders.
At a time when most whites would not let a black man cross
their threshold, Lincoln invited Douglass into the White
House. Lincoln recognized that he needed Douglass to help
him destroy the Confederacy and preserve the Union; Douglass
realized that Lincoln's shrewd sense of public opinion would
serve his own goal of freeing the nation's blacks. Their
relationship shifted in response to the country's debate
over slavery, abolition, and emancipation.
Both were ambitious men. They had great faith in the moral
and technological progress of their nation. And they were
not always consistent in their views. John Stauffer
describes their personal and political struggles with a keen
understanding of the dilemmas Douglass and Lincoln
confronted and the social context in which they occurred.
What emerges is a brilliant portrait of how two of America's
greatest leaders lived.
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