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New Perspectives on the Union War$
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Gary W. Gallagher and Elizabeth R. Varon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823284542

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823284542.001.0001

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“Certain Ill-Considered Phrases”

“Certain Ill-Considered Phrases”

Edward Bates and the Disunionist Dangers of Radical Rhetoric

(p.114) “Certain Ill-Considered Phrases”
New Perspectives on the Union War

Jesse George-Nichol

Fordham University Press

Edward Bates joined Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet hoping to act as a bulwark against radicalism in the administration. Though Bates believed that Lincoln was fundamentally conservative, he also feared that Lincoln was susceptible to radical antislavery arguments. Lincoln sometimes indulged in the rhetorical excesses that Bates associated with abolitionist political culture, and Bates worried that such radical words might eventually lead Lincoln to more radical action. Bates thus sought to steer Lincoln and his administration toward a more pragmatic and conciliatory policy toward the South—one more closely aligned with Bates’s own border state centrism and understanding of the dictates of restrained manhood. Though Bates would conclude that he had failed in his task by the time he resigned in late 1864, the triumph of immediate emancipation and—as Bates saw it—of radicalism seemed far from inevitable in 1860.

Keywords:   conservatism, emancipation, radicalism, Republican Party, restrained manhood, rhetoric, slavery, Union

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