Paper pub. date
February 2013
ISBN 9780870717024 (paperback)
6 x 9 inches, 224 pages. B&W photographs. Index.

Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era

Richard W. Etulain

“Once again, historian Richard Etulain has provided a scholarly, lively, and definitive look at Lincoln and the Pacific Northwest. Lincoln himself thought the ‘Far Corner’ of Oregon simply too far to become his own home, but his close ties to many friends who did migrate there remained important in both elections and war. Etulain re-creates the pioneer spirit and political fractiousness of Oregon with a keen eye for both the sweep of history and the small anecdotes that make the best history books irresistible.” —Harold Holzer, Chairman, Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation

This cross-continental history demonstrates Abraham Lincoln’s strong connections with the Oregon Country on various political issues—Indian relations, military policies, civil and legal rights, and North-South ideological conflicts—before and during the Civil War years. Richard Etulain refutes the argument that Pacific Northwest residents were mere “spectators of disunion,” revealing instead that men and women of the Oregon Country were personally and emotionally involved in the controversial ideas and events that inflamed the United States during the fractious era. 

Etulain’s well-researched and clearly told story demonstrates how links between Washington, D.C., and the Oregon Country helped shape both Lincoln’s policies and Oregon politics.

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About the author

Richard W. Etulain is the author or editor of more than fifty books, including Conversations with Wallace Stegner on Western History and Literature, Beyond the Missouri: The Story of the American West, and Lincoln Looks West: From the Mississippi to the Pacific. A Professor Emeritus of History at the University of New Mexico, he lives in Clackamas, Oregon.

Author photo by Brian Libby.

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"New releases dealing with the Civil War in the Pacific Northwest remain rare, but Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era is a fine addition to the existing scholarly literature..."—Andrew Wagenhoffer, Civil War Books and Authors (

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"Richard W. Etulain's examination of the link between President Abraham Lincoln and Oregon Country politics is ... a welcome addition to an understudied aspect of the American Civil War ... It opens up opportunities for further research into regional politics and race relations, and it illustrates the need for scholars to further explore and incorporate the Far West during the Civil War era."

-Bryan Carter, Pacific Northwest Quarterly Summer 2013


"The life of Abraham Lincoln is so multifaceted that even an avid reader will likely not explore every one of Lincoln's activities in depth. Fortunately, an eminent historian of the American West, Richard Etulain, has written a detailed account of one of those lesser-known aspects of Lincoln's remarkable life: his involvement with the Oregon Country. Etulain notes that some sixteen thousand books have been written about Lincoln, but I am certain that none of them do a better job with this topic than Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era...This volume represents several admirable achievements by Etulain. First, his research in the Lincoln correspondence is impressive. He appears to have left no letter pertinent to the topic unread, and he has thoroughly mastered a veritable mountain of related documents. A lengthy bibliography and detailed chapter notes indicate the depth of his research, and Etulain's comprehension of all he has read is made clear as he unsnarls the tangled web that was Oregon Country politics before 1865 and elucidates it for readers in clear and lively prose...In all aspects, Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era is a thoroughly satisfying book that should prove highly informative, even to those readers who think they Lincoln well."

-Carlos A. Schwantes, Montana The Magazine of Western History

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