Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America. By Robert E. May. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. Pp. 286. Cloth, $80.00; paper, $26.99.) The past half-century has witnessed an explosion of scholarship on Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, their political contests, and their rivalry. In spite of efforts by renowned historians such as Robert Johannsen,1 the years have not been kind to the "Little Giant." Douglas's practical middle ground of accommodation has been trumped by his racebaiting language, moral indifference to slavery, and notions of ethnic and cultural superiority. In turn, academics have lauded Lincoln's view of slavery as a moral evil, while recognizing his less than egalitarian views and statements on race. Herein lies the exceptional nature of Robert E. May's volume. Instead of walking the well-traveled road of "Bleeding Kansas" and slavery expansion into the West, the author utilizes the 1858 and 1860 campaigns and the careers of Lincoln and Douglas to mirror a more opaque battleground for slavery: the tropical climes of Central America and the Caribbean. As the preeminent scholar on filibustering in the antebellum era, May has previously written about the likes of Narciso López
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 5, 2015
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