Abraham Lincoln would commit the country to civil war

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Kurigram

Senior Member
Bangla
Source:
1014 Practice Questions for the new GRE (Princeton)

The mid-nineteenth century witnessed two major wars on U.S. soil: the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. That Abraham Lincoln would commit the country to civil war appears to require little explanation, since he endorsed the abolition of slavery and the preservation of the young nation.

Does the bold part suggest that Abraham Lincoln didn't commit the country to civil war but he was ready to commit the country to civil war?
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    No, this is "would" used as the past tense of "will," and it implies that it did in fact happen. This usage is moderate common in writing about history: e.g., "The Ottoman Empire would be dismantled following World War I"; "President Roosevelt would serve three full terms and part of a fourth before dying in office"; etc.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    'That Abraham Lincoln would commit the country to civil war ...'
    means the same as:
    'The fact that Abraham Lincoln was willing to commit the country to civil war ...'

    The sentence as a whole is about how to explain the fact that he was willing to do that.

    We know that his willingness is a fact, simply because he did commit the country to war.
     
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