tion.” Which, in both cases, is what Inhave argued all the time.nHowever, there is one big diflFerencenbetween McPherson’s Lincoln andnwhat the record should lead us tonconclude. For McPherson believes thatnall of this refounding by policy, construction,ndemagogy, and force of armsnwas wonderful to behold, pointing towardna “more perfect Union” thanneven James Madison could have imagined.nIn other words, he likes what thenUnited States, as a political construct,nhas become better than he likes what itnwas. Those who do not, on balance,nshare in his enthusiasm for the presentnconfiguration of our political system innomnicompetent government obviouslynwill not agree with McPherson’s evaluationnof Lincoln’s handiwork; thosenwho differ with him about a “new birthnof freedom” brought about by violationnof contract will see a rejection of thenterms of that contract in the accomplishmentsnat Gettysburg, at Atlanta,nand at Appomattox Court House.nMcPherson’s Lincoln “as he seems tonus now” is a summary figure in one ofnthe great American political traditions,nthat heritage which affirms the growingnpower of Leviathan to achieve endsnand purposes it thinks proper, to applynits rhetoric and its energy to reshapenthe recalcitrant material of the bodynpolitic. In this system what seems fitnaccording to some extrinsic philosophicalnor moral standard is also lawful,nregardless of what Constitution andnstatute leave to the irregular operationsnof free choice among constituentnmembers. McPherson clearly belongsnto that tradition. Those who measurenthe history of American politics againstnthe paradigm of the old Constitution,nor who affirm in public life no morenregulation than what that document, asnamended, permits will not, however,nbe at ease with McPherson onnLincoln’s version of liberty, of unconditionalnsurrender, implied powers, andnrevolutionary transformation cum preservationnof the Union. Such Americansnas are put off by this intrusivenparadigm will not have so sanguine anview of Mr. Lincoln. For they comenout of another American political tradition,nthe one which gave us our originalnConstitution and Bill of Rights. Fornthem the Emancipator will alwaysnseem to be a crafty manipulator ofnmen’s emotions, a great incendiary,nand almost a tyrant. Nothing innMcPherson’s evidence dislodges menfrom membership in this second company.nMcPherson’s arguments for Lincolnnas a second Founder isnbased on an analysis of the “scope andnmeaning of revolutionary transformationsnin both substance and processnwrought by the Civil War” andn”Lincoln’s leadership in accomplishingnthese changes.” McPherson doesn’tndwell on the formal characteristics ofnthe original Republic, what defined itnbefore Mr. Lincoln came along. But henis serious about the word “revolution.”nOf what happened when the South wasndefeated and how Lincoln shaped thatnvictory, he writes, “Abraham Lincolnnwas not Maximilien de Robespierre. NonConfederate leaders went to the guillotine.nYet the Civil War changed thenUnited States as thoroughly as thenFrench Revolution changed that country.”nLincoln accomplished this legerdemainnby making liberty a gift ofngovernment — and by assigning to thenfederal power a general responsibility fornthe well-being of’ American citizens.nThis much it accomplished by freeingnthe slaves and preserving the Union bynmilitary means — not by persuasion andnpolitics — thus putting the civil bondnwhich makes a nation on a new basis.nOf the origin of the Old Republic innresistance to a power remote, unresponsive,nand potentially hostile McPhersonnhas little to say.nHe praises Abraham Lincoln for hisnuse of metaphor (Lincoln was thengreatest master of the language amongnall our Presidents) and for his ability tonstick to one large objective. He treatsnthe modern theory of total war leadingnto unconditional surrender as if it couldnconceivably enjoy moral standing. Andnhe invents a doctrine of liberty withnwhich most men might be enslaved,n”for their own good.” But these exercisesnare merely conventional and adjunctive.nFor McPherson is reallynabout his business only in discoursingnon his favorite American revolutionnand its objectives: to free the slaves; tonend Southern domination of nahonalnpolitics; to change, internally, the socialnorder of the South; and to commit thenentire nation to a new politics, derivativenof the second sentence of thenDeclaration of Independence, not thennnConstitution. After 1865 almost everyonenin the South was poor. But Mc­nPherson is simplistic with reference tonthe essentially familial order of life innthe region: politicization of privatenthings did not come until after 1918.nAnd for the meliorist, the progressive,ndestruction of slavery by war was a farnmore complicated business than thisnbook or McPherson’s earlier studies ofnabolitionists would allow. ConcerningnSouthern domination of national politicsnhe hits the mark. In retrospect, thatnshift in control was clearly the centralnmeaning of this conflict. But asnCharies Fairman, Phillip Paludan, andnEari M. Maltz have taught us, thenUnited States Supreme Court in thenReconstruction era, with assistancenfrom Congress and various Northernnstates, prevented the remaking of thenConstitution: prevented even a radicalnreading of the Reconstruction amendments.nTherefore we have to concludenthat McPherson’s “revolution” is anproduct of the imagination; and hisnLincoln less the practical politiciann(who at one point supported the originaln13 th Amendment that would havenprotected slavery forever) and more thenAmerican demigod of the LincolnnMemorial.nThus I cannot rejoice at the extentnto which Professor McPherson wouldnseem to agree with me. For McPhersonnon Lincoln the revolutionary constitutesna study in inversion of termsnand ingenuity in argument—an abusenof the evidence — and is less impressiventhan Herndon in his narrative of thenstrong country lad who could wrestlenand pin his enemy, who learned to playnhis cards as they came, and who couldnsummon eloquence when he needednit — especially when he imitated thencountry preachers and the language ofnthe Authorized Version.n* * *nIn early August, I turned in this reviewnto the literary editor of National Review,nwho had commissioned it. Althoughnhe indicated in a telephonenconversation that he liked it wellnenough, later he informed me that theneditors of National Review had decidednnot to run the piece because itnmight be taken as an expression of thenmagazine’s editorial philosophy. As anresult, I sent a letter to the editor-inchief,nterminating my association of 25nyears with that publication. <^nDECEMBER 1991/31n