Lincoln and California


Lincoln and California

The President, the War, and the Golden State

Brian McGinty

296 pages
30 photographs, 5 illustrations, 1 chronology, index


October 2023


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2023


$34.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2023


$34.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The ties that bound Abraham Lincoln to California, and California to Lincoln, have long been overlooked by historians. Although the great Civil War president has been the subject of thousands of books, his important relationship with the Western state, both before and during the war—the part it played in bringing on the great conflict and the help it gave him in winning it—have been little described and imperfectly understood. In Lincoln and California Brian McGinty explains the relationship between the president and the Golden State, describing important events that took place in California and elsewhere during Lincoln’s lifetime. He includes the histories of Lincoln’s close friends and personal acquaintances who made history as they went to California, lived there, and helped to keep it part of the imperiled Union.

McGinty demonstrates that California was in large part responsible for beginning the Civil War, as the principal purpose of its conquest in the Mexican War was to acquire land into which the Southern states could extend their cotton-growing and slaveholding empire. The decision of California’s first voters to exclude slavery from the state but to enact virulently racist legislation encouraged Southerners’ hope that, if they established a separate republic, it would become an independent slave nation with the power to extend its territory to the Pacific coast of North America and into the Caribbean and Latin America. Lincoln’s opposition to their plans unleashed the Civil War.

As the struggle played out, however, the hopes of the proslavery Confederates were ultimately defeated because California played a vital role in helping Lincoln save the Union. Lincoln and California shines new light on an important state, a pivotal president, and a turning point in American history.

Author Bio

Brian McGinty is the award-winning author of twelve books, including Lincoln’s Greatest Case: The River, the Bridge, and the Making of America; Lincoln and the Court; and John Brown’s Trial, and more than two hundred articles on American history, the American West, and American legal history.


"Brian McGinty's informative survey of the many Civil War-era connections between the Golden State and the nation's 16th president effectively combines content and approachability."—Civil War Books and Authors blog

"McGinty's book is a fine read and undoubtedly makes important contributions to the body of Lincoln scholarship. . . . Lincoln aficionados should welcome this work into their collections."—Derek Maxfield, Emerging Civil War

Praise for Brian McGinty’s Archy Lee’s Struggle for Freedom
“Brian McGinty is an enormously talented storyteller and historian. He has a journalist’s sense of how to ferret out facts and stories and weave them together.”—Paul Finkelman, noted scholar of American legal history and Rydell Visiting Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College

Praise for Brian McGinty’s Lincoln’s Greatest Case: The River, the Bridge, and the Making of America
“Accomplished legal historian Brian McGinty has provided the definitive account of a crucial episode in Abraham Lincoln’s career as an attorney. . . . Anyone seeking to better understand the origins of the growing tensions between political parties in mid-nineteenth-century America will find this book absolutely essential.”—Harold Holzer, prize-winning Lincoln scholar and distinguished author

Praise for Brian McGinty’s Lincoln’s Greatest Case: The River, the Bridge, and the Making of America
“Of the 5,000-plus cases in which attorney Abraham Lincoln participated, none had more national significance than the one that Brian McGinty ably describes and analyzes in this highly readable volume. Based on thorough research, McGinty not only sheds a bright light on Lincoln’s contribution to the defense of the bridge company but also places the story within the larger context of American economic, social, and military history.”—Michael Burlingame, noted Lincoln scholar and president of the Abraham Lincoln Association

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
1. April 14, 1865
2. A Western Free State Man
3. Honest Old Abe
4. California’s Future
5. The War Begins
6. The First Californian
7. The Office Seekers
8. The Judges    
9. Destiny’s Land
10. Gold, Silver, and Greenbacks
11. The Native Peoples
12. The War Continues
13. Letters from Washington
14. The View from Lone Mountain
15. What Was Remembered

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