Tag Archives: Abraham Lincoln

The Myth of Northern Unity

Myth might be too strong a word, but we have a tendency to minimize or overlook entirely the extent to which the loyal citizenry of the United States remained bitterly divided over key policies of the Lincoln administration, especially emancipation. Perhaps it would be more accurate to describe this tendency as a blind spot.

Our popular memory of the war assumes a high degree of Northern unity and support for Lincoln throughout the war. This can be explained, in part by the deification of Lincoln as well as the singling out of Copperheads as representing the extent of anti-Lincoln sentiment. The Copperheads are easy to dismiss owing to their “radical” and potentially “disloyal” policies and/or relatively small numbers. Continue reading

Dr. Samuel Loomis Meets Abraham Lincoln

I am a huge fan of John Carpenter’s Halloween series. It has become a sort of tradition for me every October to watch each film multiple times leading up to Halloween night. Yes, the first two in the series are by far the best, but I also enjoy some of the later installments, especially H20, which features the return of Jamie Lee Curtis. Continue reading

Lincoln in the Bardo (Video)

Picked up George Saunders’s new novel Lincoln in the Bardo on Thursday and finished it yesterday. I can’t recommend it enough. It is an unconventional narrative structured around fragments from letters, histories, memoirs as well as the voices of three guides stuck between the living and the dead, who attempt to help a recently deceased Willie Lincoln and his grieving father. These three individuals, along with the other residents of the cemetery, refuse to acknowledge their predicament, but in attempting to help Willie to move beyond this state of limbo, they find the strength to confront their own personal demons.

I don’t want to give too much away. The book is about much more than the relationship between Willie and his father. In fact, I now see it as a meditation on many of the themes that Lincoln strikes in his Second Inaugural Address. Anyway, do yourself a favor and read this book You will not be disappointed.

Republicans Honor Lincoln With Fake History

Today the Republican Party decided to mark Abraham Lincoln’s birthday with the following tweet.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that Lincoln ever uttered or wrote these words. Amazingly, the manager of this twitter account has yet to take the tweet down or issue a correction. It is certainly not the most egregious example of fake history to come down the pike, but it does point to how easy it is to fall for it.

More than likely the quote was pulled without question from a website. One or two critical questions about the quote’s source would have been sufficient to avoid this little embarrassment.

But as long as this tweet is still up we can be guaranteed that it will continue to be passed on by people who extend their trust without a critical eye. That includes the president, who during the campaign admitted, “All I know is what’s on the Internet.”

The manager of the GOP’s twitter account and our president could just as easily shared the following: “And in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take.”

Help make America great again. Consult with your school librarian and devote just a little time to showing your students how to search and assess information from the Web.

Tracking Lincoln on Race and Slavery

This weekend I will be leading a teacher workshop at the Massachusetts Historical Society, which focuses on Abraham Lincoln’s evolving views on race and slavery. As part of my presentation I am going to utilize excerpts from seven primary sources that I believe highlight Lincoln’s thinking on these topics and that also point to important shifts in his thinking over the course of his public career. Continue reading

My Brief Encounter With Elizabeth Brown Pryor

Today my review copy of Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s book, Six Encounters With Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and its Demons, arrived. The book will be officially released next week. I’ve been anticipating the release of this book for some time, but its publication is accompanied by a good deal of sadness. As many of you know, the author was tragically killed in a car accident close to two years ago.

I knew Elizabeth fairly well. I was first introduced to her while conducting research at the Virginia Historical Society for my Crater book. By that point I had already read her book on Robert E. Lee, which I still consider to be the single best study of the man. We always managed to find time to talk whenever our paths crossed at the VHS. On occasion, we grabbed lunch together, which gave me the opportunity to pick her brain about how she approached research and writing. Continue reading

Daniel Crofts on Lincoln and the “Other” Thirteenth Amendment

This past week Daniel Crofts delivered a Banner Lecture at the Virginia Historical Society that focuses on the crux of his new book, Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union.

The book does an excellent job of clarifying the issues surrounding Lincoln’s position on an amendment to protect slavery in 1861, its place within the brief history of the Republican Party and the unraveling of the Union.

Making Lincoln Great Again

This is from a recent interview that Donald Trump gave to The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. I think it is safe to say that Woodward knew not to follow up on Trump’s response. Like just about everything else that comes out of his mouth, this is both horrifying and hilarious.

Trump, LincolnThe historian David Donald wrote an essay in 1956, titled, “Getting Right With Lincoln” in which he surveyed the ways politicians attempted to embrace Lincoln as their own. I am not quite sure how you would classify Trump’s identification with our 16th president.