Showing posts with label Abraham Lincoln. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abraham Lincoln. Show all posts

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Book Review--Lincoln's Campaign Biographies

Horrocks, Thomas A. Lincoln's Campaign Biographies (Concise Lincoln Library) Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. 2014. 148 pages 106 pages of text, index, notes, selected bibliography, b/w illustrations. ISBN 9780809333318, $24.95.

The more things change the more they stay the same. In many ways this is a truism in political campaigns. While modern technology has dramatically changed the campaign trail, often times making image more important than substance, many things are still the same.

Modern Americans demand that their politicians be polished, rehearsed, and personally available. In Abraham Lincoln's time this was not the case. Lincoln could hardly be called polished and most active campaigning was done by supporters rather than the candidates themselves.
In four quick reading chapters and a conclusion author Thomas A. Horrocks outlines the history of politics and print and how the Lincoln campaigns played into this. Chapter one discusses the relationship between 19th century political campaigns and print sources. Newspapers and pamphlets were the leading way to get a message out about a candidate. Later came the growth of the campaign biography. Abraham Lincoln understood the value and importance of the press in getting elected.

Chapters two outlines the growth of the campaign biography and discusses the symbols and themes often associated with these biographies. The goal of a positive campaign biography was to combine the candidates life story and image with the purpose of introducing, promoting and convincing readers to vote. Some of the attributes covered in a campaign biography would be establishing a noble lineage, what was the role of parents, a discussion of the education and military experience the man had and finally a discussion about their civilian life and political career.

The campaign biographies of 1860 and 1864 are discussed in chapters three and four. Here Horrocks covers the major campaign biographies of the years and gives readers insight into how they worked to influence readers. In addition to covering pro-Lincoln works Horrocks discusses the anti-Lincoln works as well. 1864 biographies that were anti-Lincoln used the fear of racial equality as their major theme.

The book concludes with a discussion as to whether campaign biographies were truly a help to Abraham Lincoln. Horrocks believes they were most likely a help but that Lincoln was also helped tremendously by the split in the conservative Democrat party and also the inclusion of third party candidate John Bell.

Overall, I found this an enjoyable and easy read. All the books in the Concise Lincoln Library are worthy of a look especially considering the price. If you are looking to learn about Lincoln and a particular topic these are a great place to start. Low price, competent scholarship and solid documentation make this series a winner!                        

Thursday, February 13, 2014

New Releases from Southern Illinois University Press

I recently received the Spring and Summer 2014 catalog from Southern Illinois University Press. As of this afternoon this catalog isn't available online yet but I am sure it will be shortly. I did notice a small handful of titles with interest.

Abraham Lincoln, Philosopher Statesman written by Joseph R. Fornieri. 
The political genius of Abraham Lincoln remains unequivocal. As a great leader, he saved the Union, presided over the end of slavery, and helped to pave the way for an interracial democracy. In his speeches and letters, he offered enduring wisdom about human equality, democracy, free labor, and free society. This rare combination of theory and practice in politics cemented Lincoln’s legacy as one of the most talented statesmen in American history. Providing an accessible framework for understanding Lincoln’s statesmanship, this thoughtful study examines Lincoln’s political intellect in terms of the traditional moral vision of statecraft as understood by the  political philosophers Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. The enduring wisdom and timeless teachings of these great thinkers, author Joseph R. Fornieri shows, can lead to a deeper appreciation of statesmanship and of its embodiment in Abraham Lincoln.

Statesmanship, Fornieri posits, is a moral greatness that stems from six virtues: wisdom, prudence, duty, magnanimity, rhetoric, and patriotism. Drawing on insights from history, politics, and philosophy, Fornieri tackles the question of how Lincoln evidenced each of these virtues. Through close textual analysis of Lincoln’s speeches and writings and careful consideration of relevant secondary literature, Fornieri reveals Lincoln to be a philosopher statesman in whom political thought and action were united. Lincoln’s character is best understood, he contends, in terms of Aquinas’s understanding of magnanimity or greatness of soul, the crowning virtue of statesmanship. True political greatness, as evidenced by Lincoln, involves both humility and sacrifice for the common good.

With the great philosophers and books of western civilization as his guide, Fornieri demonstrates the important contribution of normative political philosophy to an understanding of our sixteenth president. Informed by political theory that draws on the classics in revealing the timelessness of Lincoln’s example, his interdisciplinary study offers profound insights for anyone interested in the nature of leadership, statesmanship, political ethics, political history, and constitutional law.

Lincoln's Campaign Biographies written by Thomas A. Horrocks. 
During the 1860 and 1864 presidential campaigns, Abraham Lincoln was the subject of over twenty campaign biographies. In this innovative study, Thomas A. Horrocks examines the role that these publications played in shaping an image of Lincoln that would resonate with voters and explores the vision of Lincoln that the biographies crafted, the changes in this vision over the course of four years, and the impact of these works on the outcome of the elections.

Horrocks investigates Lincoln’s campaign biographies within the context of the critical relationship between print and politics in nineteenth-century America and compares the works about Lincoln with other presidential campaign biographies of the era. Horrocks shows that more than most politicians of his day, Lincoln deeply appreciated and understood the influence and the power of the printed word.

The 1860 campaign biographies introduced to America “Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter,” a trustworthy, rugged candidate who appealed to rural Americans. When Lincoln ran for reelection in 1864, the second round of campaign biographies complemented this earlier portrait of Lincoln with a new, paternal figure, “Father Abraham,” more appropriate for Americans enduring a bloody civil war.  Closing with a consideration of the influence of these publications on Lincoln’s election and reelection, Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies provides a new perspective for those seeking a better understanding of the sixteenth president and two of the most critical elections in American history.

Lincoln and Religion written by Ferenc and Margaret Szasz.
Abraham Lincoln’s faith has commanded more broad-based attention than that of any other American president. Although he never joined a denomination, Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Episcopalians, Disciples of Christ, Spiritualists, Jews, and even atheists claim the sixteenth president as one of their own. In this concise volume, Ferenc Morton Szasz and Margaret Connell Szasz offer both an accessible survey of the development of Lincoln’s religious views and an informative launch pad for further academic inquiry. A singular key to Lincoln’s personality, especially during the presidential years, rests with his evolving faith perspective.

After surveying Lincoln’s early childhood as a Hard-Shell Baptist in Kentucky and Indiana, the authors chronicle his move from skepticism to participation in Episcopal circles during his years in Springfield, and, finally, after the death of son Eddie, to Presbyterianism. They explore Lincoln’s relationship with the nation’s faiths as president, the impact of his son Willie’s death, his adaptation of Puritan covenant theory to a nation at war, the role of prayer during his presidency, and changes in his faith as reflected in the Emancipation Proclamation and his state papers and addresses. Finally, they evaluate Lincoln’s legacy as the central figure of America’s civil religion, an image sharpened by his prominent position in American currency.

A closing essay by Richard W. Etulain traces the historiographical currents in the literature on Lincoln and religion, and the volume concludes with a compilation of Lincoln’s own words about religion.

In assessing the enigma of Lincoln’s Christianity, the authors argue that despite his lack of church membership, Lincoln lived his life through a Christian ethical framework. His years as president, dominated by the Civil War and personal loss, led Lincoln to move into a world beholden to Providence.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Book Review--Lincoln and McClellan at War

Hearn, Chester G. Lincoln and McClellan at War. Baton Rouge, LSU Press. 2012. Index, notes, bibliography, 4 maps, 257 pages, 221 pages of text. ISBN 9780807145524, $45.

The  difficult relationship of Abraham Lincoln and George McClellan is certainly not a new one to readers of Civil War literature. Thus, while not breaking much new ground here, Chester Hearn has written an interesting and easy to read volume on the strained relationship between president and general.

What we have here are two people new to their commands. Lincoln was still a relatively inexperienced politician and McClellan, despite already being called the "Young Napoleon" in some circles, was new to leading an army this large. Of course McClellan might say leading an army this small but that's another issue.

Lincoln put his faith in McClellan to be able to end the war quickly. However Lincoln was unable to stay out of the way and McClellan bristled at what he considered to be the interference of Washington. In McClellan's eyes Lincoln was a gorilla and an unwelcome distraction. In Lincoln's eyes McClellan had a case of the "slows" and he even went so far as asking McClellan if he could borrow his army it he wasn't going to use it. The mutual distrust and sarcasm did not bode well for their relationship.

McClellan was a Unionist and certainly wanted to end the war however he and Lincoln had different strategies on how to do such. Lincoln wanted an aggressive general who would attack Robert E. Lee while McClellan preferred to be more cautious and fight a war of maneuvers. When Lincoln proposed a campaign to take the Rebel army located near Bull Run McClellan declined immediately and countered with what was to become the Peninsula Campaign. In traditional McClellan manner this was a slow and plodding campaign that while ultimately getting near Richmond did not achieve what McClellan had promised.

An area that is covered multiple times is the continued requesting of troops by McClellan. He consistently tells Washington he is out manned by the Confederate forces and promises to attack if only he had X number more troops. When the Secretary of War provided more men suddenly the Confederate army had even more. Whether McClellan actually believed the numbers provided by his spy Allan Pinkerton or if Pinkerton is providing numbers to prop up claims by McClellan is an interesting aspect to ponder. Of course Washington was on to McClellan and several times Lincoln called him on soldier counts.

After much back and forth McClellan was given what amounts to a final chance when the Confederate army went north of the Potomac in September 1862. The battle of Antietam gave McClellan a chance to inflict a large amount of damage on Robert E. Lee's troops. While certainly not a grand victory the major opportunity was lost when Union forces did not follow the damaged Confederates out of Maryland despite having fresh troops with which to carry on the battle. McClellan made what to him would be another blunder by calling the battle a Union victory. This proclamation gave Abraham Lincoln enough to go on in order to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. McClellan, not being an abolitionist, despised that the war was turning into one of emancipation rather than reconciliation.

By November 1862 the president was left with few options and removed McClellan from command. It does appear though that Lincoln learned from his time with McClellan as future generals were not given the time and leeway that McClellan was.

While not a cut and dried book saying that McClellan was bad and Lincoln was good as is so often the case, the book does seem to come down harder on McClellan and his failings than it does on Lincoln and his inexperience. Time and research have shown this to be the correct assessment however.

Overall, this was an interesting and easy book to read. I would have liked to have seen a couple of more maps and maybe some illustrations throughout but that is just me. Really just a minor quibble in what is otherwise a fascinating read for anybody interested in the eastern theater of the Civil War. Recommended.

Thanks to LSU Press for sending a complimentary review copy.

Monday, July 8, 2013

New Arrivals--Lincoln & Reconstruction; Reconstructing the Campus

Thanks going out to the good people at Southern Illinois University Press and University of Virginia Press for sending copies of a couple of new release books. Both look interesting and will move high in my "to be read" pile.

Reconstructing the Campus: Higher Education and the American Civil War (A Nation Divided: Studies in the Civil War Era) written by Michael David Cohen.
The Civil War transformed American life. Not only did thousands of men die on battlefields and millions of slaves become free; cultural institutions reshaped themselves in the context of the war and its aftermath. The first book to examine the Civil War’s immediate and long-term impact on higher education, Reconstructing the Campus begins by tracing college communities’ responses to the secession crisis and the outbreak of war. Students made supplies for the armies or left campus to fight. Professors joined the war effort or struggled to keep colleges open. The Union and Confederacy even took over some campuses for military use.

Then moving beyond 1865, the book explores the war’s long-term effects on colleges. Michael David Cohen argues that the Civil War and the political and social conditions the war created prompted major reforms, including the establishment of a new federal role in education. Reminded by the war of the importance of a well-trained military, Congress began providing resources to colleges that offered military courses and other practical curricula. Congress also, as part of a general expansion of the federal bureaucracy that accompanied the war, created the Department of Education to collect and publish data on education. For the first time, the U.S. government both influenced curricula and monitored institutions.

The war posed special challenges to Southern colleges. Often bereft of students and sometimes physically damaged, they needed to rebuild. Some took the opportunity to redesign themselves into the first Southern universities. They also admitted new types of students, including the poor, women, and, sometimes, formerly enslaved blacks. Thus, while the Civil War did great harm, it also stimulated growth, helping, especially in the South, to create our modern system of higher education.

Lincoln and Reconstruction written by John C. Rodrigue and is part of the Concise Lincoln Library.

Although Abraham Lincoln dominates the literature on the American Civil War, he remains less commonly associated with reconstruction. Previous scholarly works touch on Lincoln and reconstruction, but they tend either to speculate on what Lincoln might have done after the war had he not been assassinated or to approach his reconstruction plans merely as a means of winning the war. In this thought-provoking study, John C. Rodrigue offers a succinct but significant survey of Lincoln’s wartime reconstruction initiatives while providing a fresh interpretation of the president’s plans for postwar America.

Revealing that Lincoln concerned himself with reconstruction from the earliest days of his presidency, Rodrigue details how Lincoln’s initiatives unfolded, especially in the southern states where they were attempted. He explores Lincoln’s approach to various issues relevant to reconstruction, including slavery, race, citizenship, and democracy; his dealings with Congressional Republicans, especially the Radicals; his support for and eventual abandonment of colonization; his dealings with the border states; his handling of the calls for negotiations with the Confederacy as a way of reconstructing the Union; and his move toward emancipation and its implications for his approach to reconstruction.

As the Civil War progressed, Rodrigue shows, Lincoln’s definition of reconstruction transformed from the mere restoration of the seceded states to a more fundamental social, economic, and political reordering of southern society and of the Union itself. Based on Lincoln’s own words and writings as well as an extensive array of secondary literature, Rodrigue traces the evolution of Lincoln’s thinking on reconstruction, providing new insight into a downplayed aspect of his presidency.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book Review--Abraham Lincoln Images

This is a double book review. The two books are set up the same and written by the same author and so rather than do separate reviews it is easier to do them together.

Reed, Fred. Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness. Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, GA, 2009. Index, bibliography, notes, color and b/w photos, ISBN 9780794827045, $29.95.

Reed, Fred. Abraham Lincoln: Beyond the American Icon. Whitman Publishing, LLC, Atlanta, GA, 2013. Index, bibliography, notes, color and b/w photos, ISBN 9780794837419, $29.95.

For any collector of Abraham Lincoln items these books are great starting points to see the array of fields and items available. The books have a nice mix of text and illustrations and are appropriate for any level.

The text is chronological. Both books are broken into five chapters: 1809-1865, 1865-1909, 1909-1959, 1959-2009, and 2009-beyond. The text is in small bites with most showcasing a particular day and important events. The text is not a biography of Lincoln but rather an assortment of Lincoln and Lincoln related facts. There is plenty to learn even for those who have read widely on the 16th president.

While there is a good amount of text make no mistake, the illustrations are the central point of these books. Each page is jam packed with photos most appropriate to the time frame of the text. From vintage campaign items to modern items such as comic books and trading cards Reed has done an excellent job showcasing just how pervasive Abraham Lincoln has been and continues to be in our culture. If you are reader like me you will be amazed at the variety and sheer volume of items with the likeness of "The Great Emancipator".

Published by Whitman, which is known for publishing coin and stamp collecting books, these could be considered collecting books but they are not price guides. That is actually a plus in that it allows the books to stay in print and available for readers. I enjoy just flipping through the pages and looking at the great memorabilia. The only problem with these two volumes is that I am eagerly anticipating the possibility of a third volume in a few years. It will be interesting to see the variety of items that are released during the remaining years of the sesquicentennial bearing the likeness of our most famous president.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Upcoming Posts--History Press and SIU Press

Thanks go out to The History Press and Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a couple of new release books.

From SIU Press comes 1863: Lincoln's Pivotal Year edited by Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard. Contributors include Frank J. Williams, Craig L. Symonds, John Marszalek, William C. Davis, Bob Zeller and others.

From the publisher:

Only hours into the new year of 1863, Abraham Lincoln performed perhaps his most famous action as president by signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Rather than remaining the highlight of the coming months, however, this monumental act marked only the beginning of the most pivotal year of Lincoln’s presidency and the most revolutionary twelve months of the entire Civil War. In recognition of the sesquicentennial of this tumultuous time, prominent Civil War scholars explore the events and personalities that dominated 1863 in this enlightening volume, providing a unique historical perspective on a critical period in American history.
Several defining moments of Lincoln’s presidency took place in 1863, including the most titanic battle ever to shake the American continent, which soon inspired the most famous presidential speech in American history. The ten essays in this book explore the year’s important events and developments, including the response to the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation; the battles of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and other less-well-known confrontations; the New York City draft riots; several constitutional issues involving the war powers of President Lincoln; and the Gettysburg Address and its continued impact on American thought. Other topics include the adaptation of photography for war coverage; the critical use of images; the military role of the navy; and Lincoln’s family life during this fiery trial.
With an informative introduction by noted Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer and a chronology that places the high-profile events of 1863 in context with cultural and domestic policy advances of the day, this remarkable compendium opens a window into a year that proved decisive not only for the Civil War and Lincoln’s presidency but also for the entire course of American history.
Recently released by The History Press is Mosby's Raids in Civil War Northern Virginia (Civil War Sesquicentennial). The book is written by William S. Connery who has written for on the Civil War in northern Virginia for the History Press in the past.

From the publisher:

The most famous Civil War name in Northern Virginia, other than General Lee, is Colonel John Singleton Mosby, the Gray Ghost. He stands out among nearly one thousand generals who served in the war, celebrated most for his raids that captured Union general Edwin Stoughton in Fairfax and Colonel Daniel French Dulany in Rose Hill. By 1864, he was a feared partisan guerrilla in the North and a nightmare for Union troops protecting Washington City. After the war, his support for presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grant forced Mosby to leave his native Virginia for Hong Kong as U.S. consul. A mentor to young George S. Patton, Mosby's military legacy extended to World War II. William S. Connery brings alive the many dimensions of this American hero.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Book Review: The Lincoln Letter

Martin, William. The Lincoln Letter. Macmillan Publishing. New York, NY, 2012. 448 pages, ISBN 9780765321985, $25.99.

Set against the backdrop of Washington, D.C. author William Martin has written what can be called a dual novel. There are two rotating stories going on and despite the fact that 150 years separate them the two stories are in a way intertwined.

During one of his frequent night stops at the telegraph office Abraham Lincoln loses a pocket diary that contains his inner thoughts and ideas. Some of these are his working through of emancipation. The diary is discovered by Lt. Halsey Hutchinson. Hutchinson is a former soldier who was shot in the throat but managed to survive and found himself unwittingly a trusted friend to the President. Despite his efforts Hutchinson is unable to return the diary to Lincoln and as might be expected it is stolen. In his attempts to find the diary Hutchinson is exposed to and by some of the seedy elements in the nation's capital. Eventually Hutchinson ends up back in the war and serves at Antietam. We meet memorable characters both good and bad, black and white who both help and hinder Hutchinson in his efforts. Readers are even introduced to John Wilkes Booth.

Flash forward to today and we have relic hunter/document dealer Peter Fallon and his on again off again fiance/girlfriend Evangeline Carrington who stumble upon a letter that leads them to conclude the mythical Lincoln diary is real and could be found. As with the Civil War portion of the story there are many others also looking for the diary with many different goals in mind. We again meet an interesting array of characters both good and bad, black and white who both help and hinder Fallon in his efforts.

Does Hutchinson find the diary before Lincoln's death? Does Fallon discover if the diary is actually real and does he ever find it? In a book that moves along at a pretty quick pace with vivid descriptions of both modern and 19th century Washington D.C. readers will likely find themselves rooting for the good guys as the stories move toward their conclusions.

While I personally preferred the 1860's storyline with it's descriptions of a world long gone, both stories worked well and while the premise maybe a stretch of reality this was a book that students of Lincoln will at least find entertaining. The thought of such a diary would whet the appetite of many scholars. Readers of thriller novels will surely enjoy the dual plot lines and the action that is in both. This is a good read that I can easily recommend!

Thanks to Sullivan & Partners for providing a complimentary review copy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New Releases from SIU Press

Thanks go out to my great friends at Southern Illinois University Press for sending along a couple of new releases.

First up from author Robert Eckley is Lincoln's Forgotten Friend, Leonard Swett. In 1849, while traveling as an attorney on the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln befriended Leonard Swett (1825–89), a fellow attorney sixteen years his junior. Despite this age difference, the two men built an enduring friendship that continued until Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. Until now, no historian has explored Swett’s life or his remarkable relationship with the sixteenth president. In this welcome volume, Robert S. Eckley provides the first biography of Swett, crafting an intimate portrait of his experiences as a loyal member of Lincoln’s inner circle.

Hardcover, 306 pages, 253 pages of text, index, notes, bibliography, b/w photos, ISBN 9780809332052, $34.95.

Author Guy C. Fraker brings us Lincoln's Ladder to the Presidency: The Eighth Judicial Circuit. Throughout his twenty-three-year legal career, Abraham Lincoln spent nearly as much time on the road as an attorney for the Eighth Judicial Circuit as he did in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. Yet most historians gloss over the time and instead have Lincoln emerge fully formed as a skillful politician in 1858. In this innovative volume, Guy C. Fraker provides the first-ever study of Lincoln’s professional and personal home away from home and demonstrates how the Eighth Judicial Circuit and its people propelled Lincoln to the presidency.

Hardcover, 328 pages, 258 pages of text, index, notes, bibliography, b/w photos, 3 maps, ISBN 9780809332014, $34.95.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Scholar Richard Nelson Current Passes Away



The Executive Committee of The Lincoln Forum announces with profound sadness--along with great gratitude for a long life well lived--the passing of a founding member, peerless mentor, and major inspiration. The long-reigning "dean of Lincoln scholars"--a title he deservedly held for decades--Richard Nelson Current, died in Massachusetts on Friday, October 26, twelve days after his 100th birthday.

Richard Current, born October 5, 1912 in Colorado City (now a part of Colorado Springs), CO, earned his BA from Oberlin, his MA from The Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts, and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Over a long and distinguished career in academia, he taught at Rutgers, Hamilton College, Northern Michigan University Lawrence University, the University of Illinois, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and the University of Wisconsin. He also served as a Harmsworth Professor of History at Oxford and a Fulbright Lecturer. As most members know, for 17 years the Forum's annual award of achievement has borne his name--a sign of our respect, affection, and gratitude for his original and steadfast support of our organization. Though too frail in recent years to attend our annual symposia, his presence remained keenly felt--and we will continue to strive to live up to his example of great scholarship and great friendship.

Among Richard Current's many seminal works on Lincoln were: The Lincoln Nobody Knows and Lincoln and the First Shot. He completed J. G. Randall's multi-volume Lincoln biography with the magisterial Lincoln the Man: Last Full Measure, which won the coveted Bancroft Prize. He also won a Logan Hay Medal from the Abraham Lincoln Association and a lifetime achievement Lincoln Prize. His other books included Speaking of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln's Loyalists, Those Terrible Carpetbaggers and Loie Fuller: Goddess of Light--which he coauthored with his beloved wife, Marcia Ewing Current.

The Lincoln Forum family extends its sincerest condolences to our longtime dear friend, Marcia. Knowing that a genuine giant and dear friend has left us, we feel that we share her loss.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New releases from LSU Press

A couple of new releases from my great friends at LSU Press have arrived in the mail in the last couple of weeks.

First up from prominent western theater author Larry J. Daniel is Battle of Stones River: The Forgotten Conflict Between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland. This three day battle led to nearly 25,000 casualties. Daniel uses seldom used primary sources to tell the story of this battle pitting William Rosecrans against Braxton Bragg. While there was no clear cut winner the Union army portrayed this as such helping keep "peace Democrats" at bay. This looks to be a massively researched volume. The bibliography stretches to over 20 pages and the notes section is over 40 pages. 13 maps are also included.

Chester G. Hearn brings us Lincoln and McClellan at War. This book looks to take a look at the differing strategies for pursuing the war. McClellan being more defensive minded while Lincoln wanted the war to be fought offensively. This difference of opinion and McClellan's personal dislike for the President helped lead to his ouster and the start of a revolving door of  generals leading the Army of the Potomac. The bibliography is seven pages and there are nearly 20 pages of notes. A brief glance shows four maps.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Book Review--Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass

Freedman, Russell. Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship. Clarion Books, Boston, MA. 128 pages, notes, bibliography, b/w photos. 2012. ISBN 9780547385624, $18.99.

The parallels and evolving relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass is not a new subject. In fact it has been the subject of several full length books including The Radical and the Republican written by James Oakes and Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln written by John Stauffer. With that in mind is there really a need for yet another work on this subject? When you consider that this book is aimed at young readers ages 9 and up and that the author is Newberry Award winner Russell Freedman the answer is a resounding yes!

Freedman adroitly shows readers the backgrounds of both men starting with their youth and events that helped shape their views. Dougalss began life as a slave named Frederick Bailey who didn't even know his birth year. Lincoln was born to a poor farming family and lost his mother at the age of nine. We learn of the hardships endured by the young Douglass and his path to freedom where he became famous on the lecture circuit. Lincoln worked to study law without benefit of schooling and worked his way through several political offices ending with the presidency.

The paths of Lincoln and Douglass finally crossed after the election of 1860 brought Lincoln to the presidency. Despite Lincoln's anti-slavery views the abolitionist Douglass was unable to support him in the election. Lincoln and the Republican party were more concerned with outlawing the spread of slavery rather than ending it in locations where it existed.

The two men first met in 1863 when Douglass came to the White House to air his grievances regarding the unequal treatment given to black soldiers in the Union army. Both Lincoln and Edwin Stanton were receptive to some of Douglass's views and agreed to approve promotions for those recommended. After hearing Lincoln's reasoning for not moving more quickly on the issue of slavery Douglass left with a firmer understanding of where the President stood. The two met again in 1864 and worked to develop a plan to make more slaves aware of the Emancipation Proclamation. Around this time the fortunes of the Union army began to improve and Lincoln was able to easily win reelection. With reelection secured Lincoln was able to help pass the 13th amendment to the Constitution which forever abolished slavery. It was after Lincoln gave his second inaugural address that the two men met for the final time. At an event after the speech Douglass was originally denied entry but was eventually granted entrance. It was here that Lincoln is said to have spoken the words "Here comes my friend Douglass." The two embraced and talked for a few minutes. Just over a month later Lincoln was dead leaving Douglass to carry on the war for equality.

While this is certainly a work for younger students this does not mean the book is without merit. The research is sound, the illustrations are relevant and help bring life to the text, and the writing does not "dumb down" the subject but rather shows a respect for the reader and their intellect. For adults looking for a brief introduction to the relationship of these two men this would be a good read. For students in the late elementary to middle school age range this is would be an excellent read and fills a need in the Civil War literature for this age range. For those wanting to read further the notes and bibliography section are a nice addition. Public and school libraries as well as home schoolers would be advised to look for this work and to make it widely available! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lincoln Forum on C-Span

I received this email from the Lincoln Forum recently and thought I would share for any interested readers. Sorry I didn't get it posted before the first airing though. Still time to see some interesting discussions though.

Dear Lincoln Forum Member:

The Executive Committee, Board of Advisors, and staff want to thank you again for setting new records at the sold-out Lincoln Forum XVI symposium. For those who want to see some of this year's stellar presentations on C-SPAN--and for those eager to view what they may have missed--here is the schedule so far:

Each broadcast is Saturday at 6 PM and repeats the next morning (Sunday) at 11 AM on American History TV, C-SPAN 3.

  • December 17 - William Seale, "Life in the Lincoln White House"
  • December 24 - Stephen Berry, "The Todd Family at War With Themselves"
  • December 31 - Jason Emerson, "Robert Lincoln: First Son, Presidential Confidant, and Civil War Soldier"
  • January 7 - Victoria Ott, "Southern Women View the North and Lincoln"
  • January 14 - Lincoln Forum Panel, "Why Didn't the War End in 1861?"

Jack Davis' superb opening-night address already ran--without notice to us, unfortunately. Look for it in re-broadcasts.

Other talks--and this year's panel--will be scheduled later in January, and we will send another email blast with broadcast information.

We hope you can celebrate the holiday season by tuning in to the Lincoln Forum. All of us wish you a wonderful new year.

Betty Anselmo

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lincoln's Tomb Vandalised

I was sorry to see this online today. Goes to show what budget cuts can get you. I have added the photo of the tomb for reference.

Learn more about Abraham Lincoln's tomb by clicking on this link.

Copper sword stolen from statue at Lincoln's Tomb

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Copper thieves have struck at Abraham Lincoln's burial site in Springfield, Ill.

An employee recently noticed that a copper statue atop the tomb was missing a 3-foot-long sword. The statue is of a Civil War artillery officer.

The sword was allegedly taken sometime between September and early November. It was broken at the handle.

Dave Blanchette is spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. He tells the (Springfield) State Journal-Register ( ) that the theft is believed to be the first to state property stolen at the Lincoln Tomb Historic Site since the same sword was stolen more than a century ago.

State officials plan to repair the statue.

A guard used to be stationed at the tomb overnight, but Blanchette says the position was cut amid budget problems.