The New York Times

Hard Times

A HISTORIAN TURNS TO AMERICA’S PAST TO ARGUE THAT A LIBERAL IMPULSE HAS OFTEN PREVAILED OVER FEAR AND DIVISION.

“The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels”

By Jon Meacham

403 pages. Random House. $30.

At the close of his First Inaugural Address, President Abraham Lincoln entreated the seceding slaveholders to “swell the chorus of the Union” until the nation was touched “by the better angels of our nature.” It is among the most eloquent sentences by our most eloquent president, and subsequent speechwriters and pundits have quoted it nearly to death. But as Lincoln knew well, eloquence is not necessarily the same as efficacy. Five weeks after his inauguration, the secessionists fired on Fort Sumter and the slaughter of the Civil War began.

Jon Meacham is the latest writer to cite

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times3 min read
How Libra Would Work for You
Facebook and a consortium of 27 partners on Tuesday unveiled Libra, a new cryptocurrency. Their goal? To create a new global money and the foundation for a fresh universe of financial services. That’s a grandiose vision, but what exactly will happen
The New York Times5 min read
How to Organize Your Messy Contacts List
When was the last time you memorized a phone number? Thanks to smartphones and the internet, you can stuff hundreds of numbers and email and mailing addresses into your pocket without a second thought. But those contacts can get disorganized over tim
The New York Times2 min read
Way Back, When Bagels Were Tiny
(Science Times) ; (Trilobites) Researchers exploring an archaeological site in Austria have found three pieces of 3,000-year-old charred bread that look suspiciously like the remains of little bagels. They are not complete rings — only parts of what