If any readers want to hear more about James Oakes’ ideas about emancipation’s place in the Northern agenda, I’ve just found Glenn David Brasher’s review of Freedom National, where Oakes began developing them:
Oakes is keenly aware that his narrative challenges a good deal of the historiography, especially in insisting that Republicans warned the South of military emancipation prior to the war and were liberating all slaves behind Union lines for well over a year before the Emancipation Proclamation. He is also aware that there are many primary sources in which leading Republicans (such as Seward, Chase, Sumner, and even Lincoln himself) made contemporary statements that contradict his interpretations. But in what is the book’s boldest section (and perhaps its most stunning), Oakes labels these many wartime statements as “collective amnesia,” blaming them for creating a “myth” that still persists (328-339).
Brasher has much more. He has good things to say about the book too, but clearly doesn’t think much of Oakes’ argument.