Michael Burlingame on Abraham Lincoln

Of course, most of you know that Burlingame recently published his massive 2-volume study of Abraham Lincoln.  This talk was recorded at Illinois College on March 26, 2009.  Click through the video to get the rest of his talk.  In part 3 Burlingame suggests that Lincoln was assassinated by John W. Booth as a result of his suggestion that some blacks should be given the right to vote.  He goes on to suggest that Lincoln’s assassiantion should be understood as part of a larger narrative that includes Martin L. King, Medgar Evers, Michael Schwermer and other civil rights advocates.  I think he is right about the first point, but I’m not sure I buy the second.  Regardless, Burlingame is one of the more thoughtful Lincoln scholars and you are sure to learn something.

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6 comments… add one
  • Jim Buie May 5, 2009 @ 13:31

    Tried to give this post a trackback, as I link to it in my post about Burlingame’s inspiring and concluding paragraph on Lincoln. I also link to a story about Burlingame’s visit to Bennett Place in Durham, NC, where the Civil War actually ended, not Appomattox as is commonly believed. Thanks for your post. I’ll continue to check out your interesting blog.

  • Brooks Simpson May 3, 2009 @ 15:09

    Michael’s point (which I’ve heard before) is that Booth expressly murdered Lincoln because of Lincoln’s April 11, 1865 address in which he advocated limited black suffrage. He did not kill him because of winning the war or even for his role in destroying slavery.

    Now, whether you buy that or not is up to you. But I must say that it makes some sense to me.

    • Kevin Levin May 3, 2009 @ 16:15


      It definitely makes sense to me, though I have some difficulty with the broader interpretive claim that situates Lincoln with King, Schwermer, etc.

  • Kevin Levin Apr 30, 2009 @ 11:51

    Thanks Dan. Glad to hear it.

  • Dan Wright Apr 30, 2009 @ 11:48

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog this week. Great work.
    The Burlingame video was a nice bonus.

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