theologian James Henley Thornwell, whereas Truth came to her public activism against slavery through involvement in forerunners of modern Pentecostalism. To the extent that this highly descriptive book offers an interpretation of the war's origins, it appears in the final chapter's exploration of Lincoln and his predecessor, President James Buchanan. Although attentive to the similarities between the sections, Bowman ultimately finds that slavery marked a fundamental difference between the North and South. What brought the war was a shift in the balance of power between moderates and radicals within each section. Given the general tendency of northerners and southerners to perceive each other as ill intentioned, momentum was on the side of sectional radicals. Bowman's description of the difference between Buchanan and Lincoln conveys his implicit point about the causes of the Civil War. "Those sensitive to complexity and ambiguity can be paralyzed by it. Those whose principles or visions simplify or transcend the details of ambiguity and complexity seem better equipped to act firmly and decisively" (266). Unlike Buchanan, who renounced both secession and the use of force to stop it, Lincoln was clearer in his thinking and more decisive in his actions. It would be a
The Journal of the Civil War Era – University of North Carolina Press
Published: Feb 23, 2012
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