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The Spoken Word and Group Activities

Robert Dick Douglas, III, descendent of Senator Stephen A. Douglas, was the keynote speaker at the Stephen A. Douglas Association, Chicago, on June 4 in observance of the 150th anniversary of the death of Senator Douglas.

Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, discussed her book in “Teacher Talks” at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation on July 11.

Frank J. Williams presented “Judging Abraham Lincoln as a Judge” at the 2011 Judicial Symposium of the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals on August 10.

Bill Stumpff delivered “A. Lincoln Contemporary” at the September 3 meeting of the Lincoln Club of Topeka.

Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana and Friends of the Allen County Public Library hosted Ronald C. White, Jr. for the 2011 R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture on September 9 in Fort Wayne, IN.  Dr. White presented “‘I am almost ready to say…’ Abraham Lincoln’s Diary.”  On Friday he presented “Lincoln’s Farewell to Springfield.”  On September 10 at the Indiana State Museum, he was interviewed by Sara Gabbard for the summer Lincoln Lore.

Frank J. Williams presented “Chief Justice John Marshall, Abraham Lincoln, and the Constitution” at the Eighth Annual Constitution Day Lecture at Louisiana State University Shreveport on September 12.

Michael McKinley presented “The Appeal to Arms: Lincoln the War President,” at the September 24 meeting of the Lincoln Group of Boston.  On February 11, this group will hear Thomas Mackie present “How Lincoln is Depicted in Museums and Memorials.”

On September 24, artist Jim Weren provided an illustrated presentation on “Lincoln: the Commander in Chief” at the Lincoln Heritage Museum, Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL, as part of the activities which included The Grand Soiree to support the new Lincoln museum there.

Kevin Levin discussed “Civil War Memory and the Sesquicentennial” at the November 5 meeting of the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table.

Craig L. Symonds will discuss “Lincoln and His Admirals” at the 80th Annual Watchorn Lincoln Dinner for the Lincoln Memorial Association, Redlands, CA, on February 12, 2012.

International Legacy

Based on a 2009 conference at Oxford University, Richard Carwardine and Jay Sexton have edited The Global Lincoln for Oxford University Press.  Included are “The Global Lincoln” by Carwardine and Sexton, “Lincoln’s Horizons: The Nationalist as Universalist” by Richard Carwardine, “An American Hero in Prints Abroad: The European Image of Lincoln” by Harold Holzer, “‘The Principle of Humanity’: Lincoln in Germany and Italy, 1859-1865” by Eugenio F. Biagini, “Liberté, Égalité, and Lincoln: French Readings of an American President” by Michael Vorenberg, “‘A Total Misconception’: Lincoln, the Civil War, and the British, 1860-1865” by Lawrence Goldman, “‘The Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of’: Lincoln in the English Imagination” by Adam I.P. Smith, “Kentucky’s ‘Cottage-Bred Man’: Abraham Lincoln and Wales” by Kenneth O. Morgan, “‘Freedom and Unity’: Lincoln in Irish Political Discourse” by Kevin Kenny, “Defining a Legacy: Lincoln in the National Imaginary of India” by Vinay Lal, “A Man for All Seasons: Lincoln in Spain” by Carolyn P. Boyd, “‘That Great and Gentle Soul’: Images of Lincoln in Latin America” by Nicola Miller, “‘A Standard of Our Thought and Action’: Lincoln’s Reception in East Asia” by De-Min Tao, “National Unity and Liberty: Lincoln’s Image and Reception in Germany, 1871-1989” by Jörg Nagler, “From Colonization to Anti-colonialism: Lincoln in Africa” by Kevin Gaines, “Hating and Loving the ‘Real’ Abe Lincoln: Lincoln and the American South” by David W. Blight, and “Projecting Lincoln, Projecting America” by Jay Sexton.

Thomas Rivera-Schatz, President of the Puerto Rico Senate, took out a full-page ad in the June 15 issue of the Washington Post quoting Lincoln five times in support of its case at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS.

Clarence E. Wagner, “‘The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln’ Painted by Francis B. Carpenter,” appeared in Americana Philatelic News, for April/June.

Melvin Morris, “Collecting the Presidents: First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln,” appeared in Americana Philatelic News, for January/March.

Les Albers, “A Civil War Diorama is Not the Best History Lesson,” appeared in the July 23 Washington Post with a large photo of “The Battle of Bull Run,” on display at Miniature World in Victoria, BC.

The 17th Annual Frank and Virginia Williams Abraham Lincoln Lecture was held on October 17 at Louisiana State University Shreveport with Ronald J. Byrd presenting “Benito Juarez as a Lawyer-Statesman in the Lincoln Tradition.”

The following 11 countries have issued new Lincoln stamps and souvenir sheets: Dominica, Grenada Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Guyana, Israel (for the first time), Liberia, Mayreau, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, and Union Island.


Comedy actor Harry Hawk and Harry Ford, Manager of Ford’s Theatre, revisited the events of April 14, 1865 in Born Destiny, a one-act play performed in the Museum Union Theater of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, IL, during July.

Harold Holzer, guest curator for the exhibition Abraham Lincoln: The Image, discussed the exhibit in the summer Lincoln Lore.

The Abraham Lincoln Association hosted The Retrial of Mrs. Mary E. Surratt on September 23 at the Pritzker Auditorium in Chicago and on October 3 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield.  The audience rendered the verdict.

Lincoln impersonator Norman Zucker ( is selling a set of ten audio disks plus two four-hour video disks of his Lincoln’s Speeches & Writings Come Alive! for $77.  His shorter set of six audio disks plus one four-hour video disk sells for $55.


The Civil War in 3-D – Photos from the Civil War’s First Year, was presented by the Civil War Trust at the Willard InterContinental, Washington, D.C.

On February 6, 2012, the Lincoln Memorial Shrine will unveil its new exhibit, “And the War Came.”

Team of Rivals: Lincoln’s Cabinet at the Crossroads of War, has been extended at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library through June 16, 2012.

Awards and Prizes

The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust presented the Ralph A. Happel Award to Clark “Bud” Hall, an authority on the Battle of Brandy Station, and responsible for that battlefield’s preservation.

Lincoln Memorial University’s Houston Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Professor Charles Hubbard who directs the University’s Lincoln Institute on Public Policy and served as Director of The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum at LMU.

The Lincoln Forum gave its prestigious Richard Nelson Current Award of Achievement to legendary Civil War battlefield guide and National Parks historian Edwin (Ed) Bearss at its 16th annual symposium in Gettysburg November 16-18.  The Leonard W. Volk Award given annually to an organization advancing Lincoln history went to the Lincoln-Douglas Society of Freeport, IL.


Sotheby’s June 17 auction included a Confederate flag from the C.S.S. Alabama that sold for $218,500.  An unpublished letter in Abraham Lincoln’s hand, as President, excoriating a civilian couple for suspected lack of loyalty to the Union, was not sold.  The estimate was between $200,000 and $300,000.  Opera glasses carried by Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre on the fateful night of April 14, formerly in the Forbes Collection of American Historical Documents, and estimated between $500,000 and $700,000, also failed to sell.


Michael E. Ruane, in the Washington Post on July 4, reported that President Lincoln’s physician, Dr. Robert Stone, clipped a lock of hair from the dying president during the night of April 15, 1865.  The sacred specimen was donated by its current owner in June 2011 to the Gettysburg National Military Park.

On July 12, the Associated Press reported that presidential historian Barry H. Landau, along with Jason Savedoff, were charged with stealing documents from the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.  A locker turned up sixty documents that included papers signed by Lincoln worth $300,000, numerous presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000, and a signed Statue of Liberty Commemoration valued at $100,000.  Landau is the author of The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy.

Timber piles are being driven into the ground to support the renovated Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool in Washington, which will require nearly 11,000 cubic yards of concrete.

The African American Civil War Museum and Memorial, founded by Frank Smith, Jr., in 1998, has been expanded into a renovated school building at 1925 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington.  It was dedicated on July 25 with Mr. Smith in attendance.

Books and Pamphlets

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press has published Richard Campanella’s Lincoln and New Orleans: The 1828-1831 Flatboat Voyages and Their Place in History.

Jason Emerson has edited and annotated The Letters By and Between Mary Lincoln and Myra Bradwell in the Dark Days of Abraham Lincoln’s Widow: As Revealed By Her Own Letters (Southern Illinois University Press).

Nassir Ghaemi is the author of A First-Rate Madness published by the Penguin Free Press.

Lincoln and the Border States: Preserving the Union, by William C. Harris, was published by the University Press of Kansas.

Abraham Lincoln, Slavery, and the Civil War: Selected Writings and Speeches, edited by Michael P. Johnson, has been published by Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

The Body of John Merriman: Abraham Lincoln and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus by Brian McGinty has been published by Harvard University Press.

Mark E. Neely, Jr. is the author of Lincoln and the Triumph of a Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War (University of North Carolina Press).

James Swanson’s Bloody Crimes: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis is now available in paperback (Harper Perennial).

Martin A. Sweeney authored Lincoln’s Gift from Homer, New York for McFarland Press.

Children’s Books

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln by Robert L. Block, with illustrations by John W. Ewing, has been published by Big Tent Books.

Civil War Sesquicentennial and Related Books

Michael P. Ballard is the author of The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles (University Press of Mississippi).

William A. Dobak is the author of Freedom by the Sword: The U.S. Colored Troops, 1862-1867, written for the Center of Military History of the United States Army.

University of Illinois Press published Mark A. Lause’s A Secret Society History of the Civil War.

Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky by Elizabeth D. Leonard has been published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Robert V. Remini’s At the Edge of the Precipice: Henry Clay and the Compromise That Saved the Union has been published by Basic Books.

David S. Reynolds is the author of Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America which has been published by Norton.

Fordham University Press has published The Civil War Confiscation Acts: Failing to Reconstruct the South by John Syrett in a paperback edition.

Adam Tuchinsky is the author of Horace Greeley’s New-York Tribune Civil War-Era Socialism and the Crisis of Free Labor (Cornell University Press).


Peter A. Hansen’s “The Rail Splitter and the Railroads” appeared in the February 2009 Trains.

The April Library of Congress Information Bulletin, “The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs From the Liljenquist Family Collection,” featured the Civil War photographs from this collection.

James M. McPherson’s review essay, “What Drove the Terrible War?,” discusses A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman, The Union War by Gary W. Gallagher, 1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart, America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation by David Goldfield, and God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War by George C. Rable.  The essay appeared in the July 14 New York Review of Books.

The July 3 New York Post includes a profile of Harold Holzer, who lists four books that should be in every library, including Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and Battle Cry of Freedom by James M. McPherson.

Robert G. Wick wrote “Battle for the War Department: Rewards for the Capture of John Wilkes Booth,” James Lander discussed “Herndon’s ‘Auction List’ and Lincoln’s Interest in Science,” and Phillip W. Magness wrote “James Mitchell and the Mystery of the Emigration Office Papers” for the summer Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

Nassir Ghaemi, author of A First-Rate Madness, wrote “Depression and Command–in Times of Crisis, Mentally Ill Leaders Can See What Others Don’t,” for the July 30-31 Wall Street JournalGhaemi opines that in times of crisis, mentally ill leaders can see what others do not.  According to the author, Abraham Lincoln, the realist, could be ruthless, knowing that it was necessary for success.  As a result, Lincoln was flexible and pragmatic as a strategist and willing to admit error.

Sarah Criner’s “Owen Lovejoy at 200” was in the July-August Illinois Heritage.

The August included Matthew Simmons’s “Lincoln’s Choice.”  The authored discussed why 200 years after his birth, Hannibal Hamlin was replaced as Lincoln’s vice president.

Colonel Mark Toole, U.S. Army, wrote “Lincoln and Taney and the Leadership Lessons of Ex Parte Merriman” as his essay for the course, Abraham Lincoln and Leadership: A Study in Command and Statesmanship, taught by Frank J. Williams and Mack Owens at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport.  It appeared in the summer Lincoln Lore.

An article about William Henry Seward, “Diplomat of the Civil War,” by C. Evan Stewart appeared in the summer New York Archives.

Edward Bonekemper wrote “George B. McClellan—Lincoln’s Worst Nightmare” for the September Maryland Line.


Joseph G. Bilby, editor, New Jersey Goes to War: Biographies of 150 New Jerseyans Caught Up in the Struggle of the Civil War, Including Soldiers, Civilians, Men, Women, Heroes, Scoundrels – and a Heroic Horse, rev. by Gregory J.W. Urwin, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2011).

William A. Blair and Karen Fisher Younger, editors, Lincoln’s Proclamation: Emancipation Reconsidered, rev. by Barton A. Myers, the Journal of Southern History (August 2011).

Robert L. Bloch, My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln: A Tale of Two Boys From Indiana, rev. by Edward Bonekemper, Civil War News (August 2011).

Dennis Boman, Lincoln and Citizens’ Rights in Civil War Missouri: Balancing Freedom and Security, rev. by Myron A. Marty, Lincoln Lore (Summer 2011).

Brian Dirck, Lincoln the Lawyer, rev. by Stewart Winger, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2011).

Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, rev. by Gary W. Gallagher, Washington Post (July 3, 2011); rev. by Hendrik Hertzberg, The New Yorker (August 1, 2011).

Gary W. Gallagher, The Union War, rev. by Edward Bonekemper, Civil War News (June 2011).

Adam Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening, rev. by Myron A. Marty, Lincoln Lore (summer 2011); rev. by Jeffry D. Wert, Civil War News (August 2011).

Harold Holzer, Craig L. Symonds and Frank J. Williams, editors, The Lincoln Assassination-Crime & Punishment, Myth & Memory, rev. by Frederick Hatch, Journal of the Lincoln Assassination (Vol. XXV, 2011).

Harold Holzer, editor, Lincoln and New York, rev. by Wayne C. Temple, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2011).

Harold Holzer, editor, Lincoln on War, rev. by Jonathan D. Horn, The Weekly Standard (June 27, 2011).

Harold Holzer, editor, Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, rev. by Edward Cuddihy, The Buffalo News (June 19, 2011).

Kate Clifford Larson, The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln, rev. by Thomas R. Turner, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2011).

Fred Reed, Abraham Lincoln: The Image of His Greatness, rev. by James M. Cornelius, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2011).

Barry Schwartz, Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America, rev. by Allen C. Guelzo, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2011).

Allen D. Spiegel, A. Lincoln Esquire, A Shrewd, Sophisticated Lawyer in His Time, rev. by Stewart Winger, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2011).

Mark E. Steiner, An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln, rev. by Stewart Winger, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2011).

Daniel W. Stowell and others, editors, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, rev. by Daniel W. Hamilton, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2011).

Nora Titone, My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry That Led to the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, rev. by Frederick Hatch, Journal of the Lincoln Assassination (Vol. XXV, 2011); rev. by Joseph A. Truglio, Civil War News (August 2011).

Hans L. Trefousse, “First Among Equals”: Abraham Lincoln’s Reputation During His Administration, rev. by Michael J. Deeb, Civil War News (August 2011).

Lincoln in Popular Culture

Peter Baker’s “Comparisons-in-Chief: Just How Enlightening Is It to Explain Obama Through His Predecessors?” appeared in the May 15 New York Times “Week in Review.”  The author explores the interest in finding historical parallels for President Obama.  One White House staffer bemoaned, “Sometimes I think the only president we haven’t been compared to is Franklin Pierce.”  Dan Pfeiffer, White House communications director, believes it is because many political writers were history majors.  While he believes the similarities and differences are “informative,” they are “not determinative.”  While President Obama stands differently as the first African-American president, he is in “the vanguard of a new generation.”  Presidential historian Michael Beschloss indicated that our views are less important than Mr. Obama’s: “The real key is, in his heart, which historical figures does Obama himself really find himself looking to most often for inspiration and guidance?”  We usually do not find out until after a president leaves office.  The author speculates that maybe “…Mr. Obama will actually be another Ulysses S. Grant, who wrote the most celebrated presidential memoir of all time.  Remember, you read it here first.”

With the gridlock in Washington over raising the debt limit and reducing expenditures, cartoonist Cam of the Anawa Citizen depicts Abraham Lincoln in his memorial reading a newspaper about the crisis and crying out, “Oh, grow up!”

Princeton Professor Cornel West was interviewed by Andrew Goldman in the July 24 New York Times Magazine.  In “Cornel West Flunks the President,” he stated that President Obama, who he supported for the office, needed, “to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer…If you’re just going to reflect it and run by the polls, then you’re not going to be a transformative president.  Lincoln was a thermostat.  Johnson and F.D.R., too.”

Nassir Ghaemi’s A First-Rate Madness (The Penguin Press) has as its premise leadership and mental illness, arguing that “The best crisis leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal; the worst crisis leaders are mentally healthy.”  Abraham Lincoln is cited as an example of a leader who may have been mentally abnormal, allowing him to feel the pain of others.  The section on Abraham Lincoln demonstrates the book’s methodology; look for family history of mental illness, suicide attempts and other evidence of depression and manic episodes.  Then explore the implications of any medicines that the subject may have been given.  To him, the treatment for Lincoln included cold showers, bleeding and mercury tablets.  Tony Dokoupil discussed the book in “Madman-in-Chief – Was Richard Nixon Too Normal?  Abraham Lincoln Exceptionally Deranged?  Why We Should Look for a Little Bit of Crazy in Our Leaders” for the July 25 Newsweek website (

John J. Miller wrote “Sorry, Bam: Lincoln Had it Way Worse” for the August 17 New York Post.  While President Obama can complain about the criticism leveled against him, Miller points out that Abraham Lincoln received more with newspapers labeling him a “black Republican,” “the leanest, lankest, most ungainly massive legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung on a human frame,” and a “horrid looking wretch…sooty and scoundrelly in aspect, a cross between the nutmeg dealer, the horse swapper and the nightman.”  The cartoonists, too, had their day depicting the President as a drunk, as a vampire, and as the devil.  While President Obama may have his critics, “he has it easy compared to the hatred thrust upon Abraham Lincoln.”

With President Obama wounded by the criticism against him and stating, “Lincoln, they used to talk about him almost as bad as they talk about me,” Allen C. Guelzo replied (“Mr. President Obama, You are No Abraham Lincoln”) in the August 21 Providence Journal that, “Lincoln was damned without recoil by those who hated him as an abolitionist fanatic, as ‘Abraham Africanus the first….’”  More vitriol came from his General, George B. McClellan, who called the President, “an idiot,” and “the original gorilla.”  Just as Lincoln had been misunderstood during his time as President, “Obama must hope that it will turn out that he, too, has been temporarily misunderstood…,” but, “In our current national agony,….We have come to see a littleness, not a greatness, in Barack Obama.  And it is not for him that we feel sorry, but for ourselves.”  Harold Holzer countered in America’s Civil War that Obama has it worse because of 24-hour news and the worldwide web.

Michael Fellman’s “Pre-empting Lincoln” appeared in the September 4 Sunday New York Times and explored how General John Frémont’s 1861 proclamation freeing slaves paved the way for President Lincoln’s preliminary emancipation proclamation of September 22, 1862 and the final proclamation on January 1, 1863.  “Many historians tend to oversimplify this story as a duel between a buffoonish maverick general and an ever-patient and sagacious president, and there is no doubt that Frémont was every bit as eccentric and strange as Lincoln was balanced and calm.  Nevertheless, Lincoln was deeply angered by Frémont’s action,” as the President reserved to himself decisions on such major policy issues as emancipation.  Lincoln was also troubled by punitive measures promised by Frémont as Lincoln feared reprisals by Confederates.


The Journal of the Lincoln Assassination (Autograph Press, P.O. Box 2616, Waldorf, MD 20604) included in its 2011 issue: “Our American Cousin,” “Old Capitol Prison,” “The Washington Arsenal,” and “Chronology of the Lincoln Assassination” – all by its publisher Frederick Hatch.

The spring Inside Track included “Carrying Lincoln Home – Two railroad journeys frame the tragically shortened Presidency of Abraham Lincoln.”

Works in Progress

Alan Manning has written Lincoln the Father, examining Abraham Lincoln’s relationship with his four sons.


Harold (Hal) Gross, an avid student, admirer and philanthropist for Abraham Lincoln, died on August 3.  He was a charter member of the Lincoln Group of New York.  In 2005, his extensive Abraham Lincoln collection was donated to Queen’s College with the condition that all students have access to it.

Mark O. Hatfield, Governor of Oregon from 1959-1967, U.S. Senator from 1967 to 1997, and a long-time collector of Lincoln memorabilia, died on August 7 at the age of 89.  His Lincoln collection was donated in 2003 to the Tillamook (OR) Pioneer Museum.

Stephen A. Douglas biographer Robert W. Johannsen, J.G. Randall Distinguished Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Illinois, died on August 16, 2011.

On September 5, Rev. Alfred Isacsson of the Carmelite Fathers, passed away.  A charter member of the Lincoln Group of New York, he was a pioneer in the research on the escape of Lincoln conspirator John H. Surratt and his connections with the Roman Catholic Church.

Author’s Note

I want to thank Harold Holzer, Richard Sloan, Tom Lapsley, William D. Pederson, Dennis E. Stark, Joseph Fornieri, Wayne C. Temple, Edward Steers, Jr., Gene Griessman, Kieran McAuliffe, Mike Marlow, Norman F. Boas, Pam Carnahan, Mike Gross, Jacqueline L. Stroud, Brooks Davis, James Billings, Larry Morris, Frank Musgrave, David J. Stiller, Jo Dzombak, Guy Fraker, Malcolm Garber, David Warren, Philip W. Stichter, Justice William P. Robinson III and Virginia Williams for providing information for this column.  I welcome news concerning Abraham Lincoln.  Please contact me at 300 Switch Road, Hope Valley, RI 02832; fax (401) 364-3642; e-mail