The Radical And The Republican By James Oakes Essay

The Radical And The Republican By James Oakes Essay

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The Radical and the Republican by James Oakes is an enlightening book about Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, their different approaches, and united goal. Oakes reveals how dissimilar Douglass and Lincoln were in their views and actions, but the author also tells how both of these men influenced each other and evolved into radical Republicans in order to accomplish the abolition of slavery. Oaks clearly and soundly argues that both Lincoln became more radical and Douglass became more political in order to accomplish the complete abolition of slavery. The transformation in their way of thinking, conduct, and actions clearly show how Lincoln and Douglass became radical Republicans in the end.
In the beginning, Lincoln and Douglass were extremely different people in nearly every aspect. Douglass was raised a slave, while Lincoln grew up as a free yet very poor man. Lincoln’s primary commitment was to American politics. Douglass’ life work almost solely revolved around abolition and voting rights for African-Americans. Their personalities were also extremely different (Oakes 92-93). Douglass’ impulsive and emotional inclinations were opposite of Lincoln’s logical and calm personality. Douglass supported every approach against slavery, including more violent ones like the John Brown affair (Oakes 94). Lincoln, on the other hand, called Brown a “madman” and preferred a peaceful abolition of slavery, which proved to be impossible (Oakes 95). Despite these vast differences, both Lincoln and Douglass eventually came to appreciate and respect one another. Lincoln needed Douglass’ radicalism, and Douglass needed Lincoln’s political conduct.
Oakes was smart to point out the differences between Lincoln and Douglass because some people ma...


... middle of paper ...


...em, and Douglass became both in the end.
Overall, Oakes did an excellent job with his argument. He was extremely detailed and thorough with both Lincoln and Douglass. 8He eloquently and subtly showed how each of them transformed throughout the book. Oakes also wisely chose to write the book in an almost story form to make the argument as clear and accessible as possible. The Radical and the Republican tells the story of a reformer and a Republican and how each of these men eventually developed both radical and political qualities that helped their antislavery goal. Oakes presents a strong argument that clearly portrays Lincoln and Douglass’ experiences, actions, and transformations. Reformers can become politicians, and politicians can become reformers; however, when people become both, they can be unstoppable in achieving their goals, like Lincoln and Douglass were.

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