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Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln's Scandalous Secretary of War

Tekijä: Paul Kahan

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1911,127,790 (4)2
From abject poverty to undisputed political boss of Pennsylvania, Lincoln's secretary of war, senator, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a founder of the Republican Party, Simon Cameron (1799-1889) was one of the nineteenth century's most prominent political figures. In his wake, however, he left a series of questionable political and business dealings and, at the age of eighty, even a sex scandal. Far more than a biography of Cameron, Amiable Scoundrel is also a portrait of an era that allowed--indeed, encouraged--a man such as Cameron to seize political control. The political changes of the early nineteenth century enabled him not only to improve his status but also to exert real political authority. The changes caused by the Civil War, in turn, allowed Cameron to consolidate his political authority into a successful, well-oiled political machine. A key figure in designing and implementing the Union's military strategy during the Civil War's crucial first year, Cameron played an essential role in pushing Abraham Lincoln to permit the enlistment of African Americans into the U.S. Army, a stance that eventually led to his forced resignation. Yet his legacy has languished, nearly forgotten save for the fact that his name has become shorthand for corruption, even though no evidence has ever been presented to prove that Cameron was corrupt. Amiable Scoundrel puts Cameron's actions into a larger historical context by demonstrating that many politicians of the time, including Abraham Lincoln, used similar tactics to win elections and advance their careers. This study is the fascinating story of Cameron's life and an illuminating portrait of his times.  … (lisätietoja)
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Before Cameron became a byword for ineptitude and corruption as Lincoln's first Secretary of War, there was a long public career that stretched from being a junior newspaper publisher and enthusiastic Jacksonian to being an established businessman and a founder of the Republican Party. One reality is that Cameron was a long-time practitioner of "honest graft," in that while he was angling for plum public positions and contracts, that didn't mean that the job itself would be slighted; it's how business was conducted prior to the unpleasantness of the 1860s. The real issue with Cameron as Secretary of War is that, whatever his talents as a politician and a businessman (which were many), the sort of attention to detail and organization that were needed just weren't part of Cameron's nature. The last straw though was, having joined the Republicans out of a long brewing disgust for what he saw as the overweening sectional demands from the Slave South, Cameron was in advance of the administration position on emancipation and arming freed Blacks. As for the corruption, Cameron dryly noted that if all he wanted to do was make money that was the easiest thing in the world outside of government; not that this prevented him looking for good jobs for his sons and relations. Regarding the ineptitude, well, Cameron seems self-aware enough that he was really not the man for the job and that if the administration needed a scapegoat, he was prepared to be a good party man and take the hit. He still remained Mr. Republican in Pennsylvania pretty much until his death; all in all an enlightening look at how American politics really worked in the mid-19th century. ( )
  Shrike58 | Sep 24, 2020 |
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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From abject poverty to undisputed political boss of Pennsylvania, Lincoln's secretary of war, senator, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a founder of the Republican Party, Simon Cameron (1799-1889) was one of the nineteenth century's most prominent political figures. In his wake, however, he left a series of questionable political and business dealings and, at the age of eighty, even a sex scandal. Far more than a biography of Cameron, Amiable Scoundrel is also a portrait of an era that allowed--indeed, encouraged--a man such as Cameron to seize political control. The political changes of the early nineteenth century enabled him not only to improve his status but also to exert real political authority. The changes caused by the Civil War, in turn, allowed Cameron to consolidate his political authority into a successful, well-oiled political machine. A key figure in designing and implementing the Union's military strategy during the Civil War's crucial first year, Cameron played an essential role in pushing Abraham Lincoln to permit the enlistment of African Americans into the U.S. Army, a stance that eventually led to his forced resignation. Yet his legacy has languished, nearly forgotten save for the fact that his name has become shorthand for corruption, even though no evidence has ever been presented to prove that Cameron was corrupt. Amiable Scoundrel puts Cameron's actions into a larger historical context by demonstrating that many politicians of the time, including Abraham Lincoln, used similar tactics to win elections and advance their careers. This study is the fascinating story of Cameron's life and an illuminating portrait of his times.  

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