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Lincoln Looks West

Lincoln Looks West

From the Mississippi to the Pacific

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Edited by Richard W. Etulain


Hardcover (Other formats: E-book)
280 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

This first-ever volume to comprehensively explore President Abraham Lincoln’s ties to the American West brings together a variety of scholars and experts who offer a fascinating look at the sixteenth president’s lasting legacy in the territory beyond the Mississippi River. Editor Richard W. Etulain’s extensive introductory essay treats these western connections from Lincoln’s early reactions to Texas, Oregon, and the Mexican War in the 1840s, through the 1850s, and during his presidency, providing a framework for the nine essays that follow.

Each of these essays offers compelling insight into the many facets of Lincoln’s often complex interactions with the American West. Included in this collection are a provocative examination of Lincoln’s opposition to the Mexican War; a discussion of the president’s antislavery politics as applied to the new arena of the West; new perspectives on Lincoln’s views regarding the Thirteenth Amendment and his reluctance regarding the admission of Nevada to the Union; a fresh look at the impact of the Radical Republicans on Lincoln’s patronage and appointments in the West; and discussion of Lincoln’s favorable treatment of New Mexico and Arizona, primarily Southern and Democratic areas, in an effort to garner their loyalty to the Union. Also analyzed is “The Tribe of Abraham”—Lincoln’s less-than-competent appointments in Washington Territory made on the basis of political friendship—and the ways in which Lincoln’s political friends in the Western Territories influenced his western policies. Other essays look at Lincoln’s dealings with the Mormons of Utah, who supported the president in exchange for his tolerance, and American Indians, whose relations with the government suffered as the president’s attention was consumed by the crisis of the Civil War.

In addition to these illuminating discussions, Etulain includes a detailed bibliographical essay, complete with examinations of previous interpretations and topics needing further research, as well as an extensive list of resources for more information on Lincoln's ties west of the Mississippi. Loaded with a wealth of information and fresh historical perspectives, Lincoln Looks West explores yet another intriguing dimension to this dynamic leader and to the history of the American West.



Richard W. Etulain

Michael S. Green

Robert W. Johannsen

Deren Earl Kellogg

Mark E. Neely Jr.

David A. Nichols

Earl S. Pomeroy

Larry Schweikart

Vincent G. Tegeder

Paul M. Zall


Richard W. Etulain, a professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, is the author or editor of more than forty books, primarily on the history and culture of the American West. His most recent book is Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West. He is a coeditor of the Concise Lincoln Library book series.


“This compilation of essays provides a wide range of topics, brings together a plethora of research, and demonstrates that the West was never far from Lincoln's mind.”—Patricia Ann Owens, The Annals of Iowa
“Readers interested in Lincoln, the United States West, and the intersection of the man and the region from which he hailed will hope, I am sure, for just such a book—and who better than Richard Etulain to write it?”—David A. Johnson, Oregon Historical Quarterly
Lincoln Looks West [fills] a huge void in the neglected topic of Lincoln and the West. Anyone wanting to know more about Lincoln and the trans-Mississippi region will certainly want this book.”—Jerry Thompson, New Mexico Historical Review

“[T]he contributions in Lincoln Looks West provide the reader with insightful perspectives of the rich and varied terrain of the West as it relates to Lincoln and the dominant issues of the mid-nineteenth-century United States, terrain that merits further attention.”—Bartholomew H. Sparrow, H-CivWar

“This sweeping collection of more than a full generation’s worth of scholarship on the neglected topic of Lincoln and the West fills a huge void in the historical literature. Richard Etulain deserves much credit for assembling in one valuable book the best and the brightest essays on this intriguing subject, adding an important introduction that reflects on—and adds to—the record. Why it took so long to give readers a chance to see the West as this western president saw it is hard to fathom; the good news is that this volume ends a long drought with a flourish.”—Harold Holzer, cochairman, U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission

“These nine essays help illuminate an aspect of Lincoln’s career, both presidential and prepresidential, that deserves to be better understood. Students of the sixteenth president’s life and times will welcome this collection as a valuable addition to the literature.”—Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life

“The comprehensive introduction and nine balanced essays mark a pioneer assessment of Lincoln’s relationship to the vast terrain that stretches west from the Mississippi River. Lincoln Looks West belongs in the library of every Lincoln admirer.”—Ferenc Morton Szasz, author of Abraham Lincoln and Robert Burns: Connected Lives and Legends