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The Spoken Word and Group Activities

On November 7, Dale Jirik presented “An Author Wonders ‘Did Lincoln Use Coke?’” at the Lincoln Club of Topeka.

On March 27, a panel discussion, “Lincoln, Labor, and Race,” was sponsored by The National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher EducationHarold Holzer, Edna Greene Medford, and James Oakes formed the panel, hosted by the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.

Sidney Blumenthal, author of the multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln, with two already in print, discussed his work on June 1 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield.

Ron Keller portrayed journalist Noah Brooks, a close wartime confident of Abraham Lincoln.  Keller presented his portrayal at the Lincoln Heritage Museum’s Living History Series on July 8 at Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL.

The summer and fall calendar events of the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site included: a Ulysses S. Grant death commemoration on July 22; “Was Reconstruction a Revolution?” with Andrew Slap on July 24; “American Ulysses” by Ronald C. White, Jr. on September 23; the annual Ulysses S. Grant Lecture on John Y. Simon Day (October 7) was delivered by Kate Masur, “U.S. Grant and the Problem of Political Violence;” and “Mr. U.S. Grant: The President and his State of the Union” with Dan Haughey on November 3.

On July 28, the Elkhart Historical Society hosted a dinner lecture by Rev. Dr. Malcom Shotwell titled: “Our neighbors, the Lincolns: A Clergyman Remembers.”  The presentation is set in 1874 and Shotwell portrays Rev. Dr. Noyes W. Miner, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Springfield, from 1855-1869.  The dramatic monologue has Miner sharing thoughts on the Lincoln-Douglas debates, visiting the Lincoln family in Washington, and experiencing other contacts with the Lincolns.

The Lincoln Speaksprogram returned to Chesterwood, The Daniel Chester French Studio in Stockbridge, MA, on August 9.  Harold Holzer, who wrote the program’s script, also served as moderator.  The program featured readings by noted actors including Jayne Atkinson (House of Cards, Criminal Minds, and 24), Michael Gill (House of Cards, Ray Donovan), and Chris Tucci (The Droll, Company Retreat).  They recited the 16th President’s least-known and best-known private and public words about love, life, and the country.

Wayne C. Temple discussed “A Tale of Two Cities: Lincoln in Springfield and Pittsfield” at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, on August 9.

Harold Holzer discussed Confederate statuary on CNN’s “New Day” on August 15.

Edna Greene Medford presented the 2017 Richard Sokup Lecture on August 26 at the Freeport (IL) Public Library.

On August 26, Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia President John Elliff and Vice President John O’Brian led an open discussion on the secession crisis, including visits to relevant sites in Washington.

Bill Stumpff discussed “Looking for Lincoln in Kansas” at the September 5 meeting of the Lincoln Club of Topeka.

The Friends of the Library of the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN, hosted Richard Hileman, who discussed “The Search for Nancy Hanks” on October 22.

James B. Conroy discussed his Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime as part of the Gettysburg College Lyceum Lectures featuring recent Lincoln Prize laureates on September 7 and Douglas R. Egerton discussed his Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America on October 25.

C-SPAN 2 aired Ronald C. White, Jr.’s presentation about Ulysses S. Grant at the Library of Congress National Book Festival on September 10

The Civil War Round Table of New York heard Williamson Murray discuss his Military History of the Civil War: A Savage War on September 13.

On September 14, members of the Puget Sound Civil War Round Table (Seattle, WA) heard Richard W. Etulain discuss “Abraham Lincoln and the American West.”

On September 16, the Lincoln Group of Boston welcomed James B. Conroy speaking on his book, Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime.

The 2017 Annual R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture of the Friends of the Lincoln Collection at Indiana and the Allen County Public Library featured Richard Brookhiser, who spoke about “Abraham Lincoln & The Founders” on September 19.

Candice Shy Hooper discussed her Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives at the September 19 meeting of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia.

The Fourth Annual U.S. Grant Symposium was held on September 19 at Cape Girardeau, MO, with Frank Nickell discussing the first days of Grant’s Civil War career in 1861 Missouri.  Gregory Wolk presented “The U.S. Grant Trail” the project connecting communities in eastern Missouri and western Kentucky that witnessed Grant’s rise to fame in the Civil War.  Darrel Dexter discussed the political climate of “Egypt” (Southern Illinois) from May 1861 to February 1862, when General Grant operated in Southern Illinois with a command at Cairo.  Ronald C. White presented the keynote address “Ulysses S. Grant: A Fresh Vision for American Leadership.”

The 2017 Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series presented Lincoln & Education on October 12 at the University of Illinois–Springfield.  Michael Burlingame delivered the opening remarks, “Lincoln’s Views on Education,” Robert Bray presented “Lincoln’s Self-Education: The Personal and the Public,” and Paula Shotwell offered “Why Lincoln?: An Examination of Lincoln’s Role in Today’s Education.”

David P. Wiegers, noted photographer of Lincoln statues, delivered the luncheon address to the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania on November 19.

Harold Holzer delivered the keynote address at the Annual Dedication Day hosted by the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania on November 19 at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, Gettysburg.

Thavolia Glymph presented the 56th Annual Robert Fortenbaugh Memorial Lecture at Gettysburg College on November 19.

Harold Holzer delivered the first Frank and Virginia Williams Lecture on Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Studies on November 29 on the eve of the dedication of the Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana Gallery at Mississippi State University-Starkville, “The General vs. The President: Lincoln, Grant and the Battle of Civil War Memory,” was enhanced with PowerPoint slides of many prints, photos, and illustrations.

The December 5 meeting of The Lincoln Club of Topeka included Bill Stumpff’s presentation, “Kansas Territory, Grave of Governors.”

James I. (Bud) Robertson, Jr. spoke about “Robert E. Lee and the Quest for Peace” at the December 11 meeting of The Civil War Round Table of New York.

The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia luncheon, held on December 12, was a special meeting featuring Lincoln Group authors: David J. Kent discussing his book Lincoln: The Man who Saved America; Elizabeth Smith Brownstein, who wrote Lincoln’s Other White House; and Carl Adams, who told the story of Nance: Trials of the First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln.

Manisha Sinha was the 2018 Lincoln Dinner speaker of the Lincoln Memorial Shrine, Redlands, CA, on February 12.

Richard Carwardine presented “Lincoln’s Humor” at the Abraham Lincoln Association banquet on February 12, 2018.

The Benjamin P. Thomas Symposium held on February 11-12, 2018, featured Guy Fraker discussing his new guidebook about the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Illinois, published as part of the Looking for Lincoln in Illinois series.  Kate Masur spoke on John E. Washington’s They Knew Lincoln (1942) for which she wrote the introduction to a recent reprint, and Michael Burlingame discussed “African-Americas in Washington, DC who knew Lincoln.”

At the Thomas Schwartz Luncheon on February 12, 2018, Jason Emerson discussed his Lincoln’s Lover: Mary Lincoln in Poetry.

Charles W. Calhoun, author of The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, discussed “Ulysses S. Grant: The Embattled President” for the Smithsonian Associates on February 8.

International Legacy

Jason H. Silverman (Winthrop University) delivered the annual Frank and Virginia Williams lecture, “The ‘Great Replenishing Stream’: Abraham Lincoln’s Life-Long Advocacy of the Immigrant” at Louisiana State University-Shreveport on October 20.

William D. Pederson’s (International Lincoln Center) “Abraham Lincoln on Stamps in Latin American, Part II,” appeared in the July/September issue of Americana Philatelic News and “Lincoln Stamps in Oceania, New Zealand and Australia, Part 1,” in the October/December issue of the same publication.

William D. Pederson chaired a panel on Lincoln’s Global Legacy and presented “Lincoln’s Legacy in North Africa,” along with Fatimah Smith and Navdeep Singh (LSU Shreveport), “Lincoln’s Legacy in Burkino Faso;” Eliza Malinova (LSU Shreveport), “Lincoln’s Legacy in South Africa;” and Shalisa Roland (LSU Shreveport), “Lincoln Schools in Cuba,” at the annual meeting of the Association of Global South Studies in Marrakesh, Morocco, on December 14-16.

William D. Pederson delivered welcoming remarks, chaired a panel, and presented a paper at the 20th annual International Forum sponsored by the Centre for Contemporary Theory, LSU-Shreveport, and Princeton University on “Humanities across Cultures” at Gopalpur-on-Sea, India, on December 17-20.  His paper with Sunil K. Sarangi (XLRI Jamshedpur, India) was on “Lincoln in the Bardo: Mourning in America and Tibet.”  Navdeep Singh (LSU Shreveport) also presented a paper on “Lincoln’s Views of Economic Development as Reflected in India.”

The International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport commemorates its 35th anniversary in 2018.  The Center features two annual lecture series on constitutional democracy and Abraham Lincoln; the first independent Washington semester at a public university in the South; a triennial Deep South conference series; international conferences/travel abroad; and the International Lincoln Collection.

Arts & Entertainment

Perry Stein wrote “A Mural for Memorial Men” for the September 2 Washington Post.  The author describes new artwork outside Washington’s Union Station that greets visitors to D.C. with homage to builders of the Lincoln Memorial.  Painted on a building along the Metropolitan Branch Trail, “28 Blocks,” by New York artist Garin Baker, it honors the men who built the statue inside – many of whom were the children of slaves.


The Photo Antiquities Museum in Pittsburgh displayed 260 photographs and artifacts relating to Abraham Lincoln.  It will be on display for the next year as the museum’s inaugural exhibit in its new gallery at 531 East Ohio Street.

Awards and Prizes

Harold Holzer, preeminent Abraham Lincoln and Civil War scholar, received the 2017 Empire State Archives and History Award from the New York State Archives Partnership Trust on September 6 at The Great Hall of the Cooper Union in New York City.  Holzer spoke on stage about his career as an author and historian with actor Stephen Lang.

In 2014, the Sara Vaughn Gabbard Law Scholarship was established at the Indiana Tech Law School.  Scholarships are named for Gabbard, longtime editor of Lincoln Lore of the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana.  Scholarships will go to law students who participated and prevailed in an annual Abraham Lincoln writing competition.  As the law school has closed, the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana has assumed the duties as host.

The Civil War Round Table of Central Massachusetts presented the Oliver W. Holmes, Jr. Award to Gary Adelman on October 28.

The Chambersburg (PA) Civil War Seminars and Tours presented the 2017 Ed Bearss Award to Thomas J. Ryan, author of Spies, Scouts and Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign.  He is at work on Eleven Fateful Days in July 1863: Meade Tracks Lee’s Army after Gettysburg.

The late Elizabeth Brown Prior was honored with The Civil War Round Table of New York Barondess Lincoln Award at the Round Table’s February 12 meeting.  The annual Award of Achievement of The Lincoln Group of New York went to Sidney Blumenthal.


A dozen signs have been erected on major highways across central Illinois alerting motorists to the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.  The “Entering Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area” marketing was unveiled during a ceremony on May 26 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum.  The signs are similar to those other national parks and forests across the country.  Springfield is one of six gateway communities in the 42-county federal heritage area.

Ace Sign Co. of Springfield, IL, donated a Lincoln print on a state-owned building at Fifth Street and Capitol Avenue, Springfield, featuring this quotation from President Lincoln: “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible for through time and eternity.”

Jonathan Den Hartog wrote “‘In God We Trust,’ Even at Our Most Divided” for the April 21 Wall Street Journal.  He presented the history of “In God We Trust,” which appears on several U.S. coins.  On April 22, 1864, Congress approved a significant revision to the nation’s coinage by adding this phrase.

The August 16 issue of Antique Trader featured an article on the donation by Frank and Virginia Williams to Mississippi State University of their Abraham Lincoln and Civil War Collections (“The Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana”).  The gift was also reported in the September Civil War News. On August 4, Antiques and Auction News also reported, “Frank and Virginia Williams Gift Extraordinary Lincoln and Civil War Collection.”

Williams was interviewed by Sarah Richardson for the December 2017 Civil War Times.

The Lincoln Memorial Shrine commemorated the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I on April 6, 2017 with two exhibits.  The first focused on the experience of WWI pilot Lt. Emery Ewart Watchorn, for whom the Lincoln Shrine was dedicated, and the second focused on use of Lincoln’s words during the “Great War.”

Bernard Schoenburg discussed the gift to Mississippi State University of the Lincoln and Civil War collections of Frank and Virginia Williams in the July 2 State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL). Twelve thousand books and pamphlets, plus 17,000 other items of sculpture, prints, paintings, political paraphernalia, photographs, numismatics, philately, and other ephemera valued at nearly $3 million was delivered to Mitchell Memorial Library at MSU in June.  Some of it is now on display at the newly constructed Frank and Virginia Williams Collection of Lincolniana Gallery.

Schoenburg also wrote about the struggle to establish a protocol to resume work on the Lincoln papers at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, Springfield, for the June 30 issue of the Journal-Register.  A five-member review and planning team of historians from other states was established to review the project and recommend a “path forward.”  Their reports were released on June 29 declaring the mission of the project as creating “a digital collection of all things written by and to Abraham Lincoln with images of the documents and annotated descriptions.”  But according to the reports, with 17 years consumed by the project, the work remains far from complete and documents with appropriate explanations are not yet available to the public.

In October 2017, the family of the late Lincoln Financial CEO Ian Rolland announced that it was donating $1 million toward a $5 million goal to create the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research on the main floor of the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne.

The Ulysses S. Grant Bicentennial Commission held its inaugural meeting on August 15, 2017.  Commissioners include: Chief Justice (Ret.) Frank Williams, President; John F. Marszalek, ex-officio; William (Brother) Rogers; Stuart Rockoff; Sarah McCullough; Edna Greene Medford; Stephen Middleton; and Ulysses S. Grant Dietz.

Two political foes in Congress joined hands to mark the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass.  Washington, DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a “Democrataic non-voting representative” and Maryland Republican Representative Andy Harris, a conservative statehood opponent, agreed to introduce a bill to establish a commission commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Frederick Douglass, who is claimed as a native son by both Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Justin Moyer wrote “Penny used to deface the Lincoln Memorial” for the Washington Post on September 20.  While a man was arrested for vandalizing the Lincoln Memorial and charged with malicious destruction of property, the author described other incidents within the last year.  Nurtilek Bakirov, of Kyrgyzstan, was observed scrolling the letters “HYPT MAEK” on the fifth pillar of the North side of the memorial with a penny.  In 2015, a case was dismissed against a Chinese woman who was suspected of tossing green paint on several D.C. landmarks, including the Lincoln Memorial.  The charges were dismissed when the judge determined she was incompetent to stand trial.  Also, in August 2017, someone defaced the Lincoln Memorial with red paint.  And in February 2017, someone wrote cryptic messages in black permanent marker on the memorial as well as other monuments.  The latest act of vandalism will cost $2,000 for a treatment with polish.

Books and Pamphlets

Wayne C. Temple is the author of Lincoln’s Springfield/Pittsfield Day Connection: The Tale of Two Cities (Mayhaven Publishing, Inc.).

Graham A. Peck is the author of Making an Antislavery Nation: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Battle over Freedom (University of Illinois Press).

Southern Illinois University Press has published Ronald L. Hatzenbuehler’s Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Unfinished Work of the Nation.

Lincoln and the Abolitionists: John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War by Fred Kaplan, has been published by HarperCollins.

Thomas P. Lowry’s, A Tourist Guide to Civil War Washington, was published by Idle Winter Press.

David Perry is the author of Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies: The Lincoln Foreign Policy, 1861-1865 (Casemate Publishers).

The Election of 1860: “A Campaign Fraught with Consequences” by Michael F. Holt was published by the University Press of Kansas as a volume in its American Presidential Elections series.

The University of Georgia Press has published Beyond Freedom: Distrupting the History of Emancipation edited by David W. Blight and Jim Downs.

Oxford University Press has reissued They Knew Lincoln by John E. Washington, edited and with an introduction by Kate Masur.

Guy C. Fraker’s A Guide to Lincoln’s Eight Judicial Circuit was published as part of the series Looking for Lincoln in Illinois by Southern Illinois University Press.

Richard Carwardine is the author of Lincoln’s Sense of Humor, published as part of the Concise Lincoln Library of Southern Illinois University Press.

Tom Peet and David Keck have issued the 3rd edition of their annotated bibliography Reading Lincoln.

Collateral Books

Grant by Ron Chernow has been published by Penguin Press.

An annotated edition of The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, edited by John F. Marszalek, David S. Nolan, and Louie P. Gallo, has been published by Harvard University Press.

Charles W. Calhoun’s The Presidency of Ulysses S. Grant has been published by the University Press of Kansas.

InterVarsity Press of Downers Grove, IL, is the publisher of Clarke D. Forsythe’s Politics for the Greatest Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square.

Stephen W. Sears wrote Lincoln’s Lieutenants: The High Command of the Army of the Potomac (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Kurt Andersen has written Fantasyland: How American Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, published by Random HouseHanna Rosin discussed the book in the February 10 New York Times Book Review.

Making Photography Matter: A Viewer’s History from the Civil War to the Great Depression by Cara Finnegan has been published by the University of Illinois Press.

  1. James Fuller is the author of Oliver P. Morton and the Politics of the Civil War and Reconstruction (Kent State University Press).


James M. Cornelius wrote “Lincoln, Science, and Democracy” for the summer issue of Lincoln Lore. Also included in this issue were Sara Gabbard’s interview with Richard Brookhiser, author of Founder’s Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, and an interview with Brian Dirck on Lincoln in Indiana.   Roger Cosbey wrote “Fort Sumter: A War Won, A Vision Lost,” and Joseph R. Fornieri contributed “Lincoln’s Three Wishes That All Men Could Be Free.”

Frederick Hatch has published Volume 31 (2017) of the Journal of the Lincoln Assassination.  In this issue, Hatch introduces Jesse W. Weik’s “A New Story of Lincoln’s Assassination,” which initially appeared in The Century Magazine in February 2013.  Hatch described the list of “unpunished suspects” in the Lincoln assassination.  (Hundreds of people were arrested and that number was eventually reduced to nine.)  Also in this issue was Charles P. Stone’s “Washington on the Eve of War,” originally published in the July 1883 Century Magazine.

Erika Holst has written “Lincoln’s Photographer Was Unlucky in Love” for the May 18-24 Illinois Times.

Anna Gibson Holloway and Jonathan W. White wrote “Abraham Lincoln’s First Visit to Hampton Roads” for the summer For the People.  Also included in this issue were Mark B. Pohlad’s “‘Little Eddie’ A Poem Found in St. Louis Newspaper” and Kerry Ellard’s “Where Is Mary Lincoln’s Memoir?”

The 2017 Lincolnator: Abraham Lincoln at Home – a publication of the Louisiana Lincoln Group – included “Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey” by Donna Byrd and “Tony Bennett on Lincoln: the Worlds of Music, Art and Politics” by William D. Pederson.

Thomas Mallon wrote the review essay, “Go to his Grave,” about George Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo for the February 13-20 New Yorker.

Ethan S. Rafuse wrote “‘The Spirit Which You Have Aided To Infuse’: A. Lincoln, Little Mac, Fighting Joe, and the Question of Accountability in Union Command Relations” for the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2017).  The same issue featured George C. Rable’s “McClellan Redux? The Often–Reported, Imminent Return of Little Mac,” and Mark Grimsley wrote “The Lincoln-McClellan Relationship in Myth and Memory.”

Civil War History, in its September issue, focused on Civil War prisons with a Round Table “Civil War Incarceration in History and Memory.”  Chris Barr, David R. Bush, Michael P. Gray, Evan Kutzler, and Kelly D. Mezurek were panelists.  Adam H. Domby contributed the article “Captives of Memory: The Contested Legacy of Race at Andersonville National Historic Site” and Angela M. Zombek wrote “Paternalism and Imprisonment at Castle Thunder: Reinforcing Gender Norms in the Confederate Capital.”

Larry Koch wrote “The Humor of Abraham Lincoln” for the October 2017 Maryland LineMark Tooley wrote “The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and The Final Attempt to Avert Civil War” for the December 2017 Maryland Line.

Steven G. Miller contributed “Pursuing the Mysterious Family of (Thomas) Boston Corbett” to the winter 2016 Lincoln Herald.  Joseph George, Jr.’s “The Trial and Execution of Two Confederate Agents in New York” was also included in this issue.

Eugene Schmiel wrote “The Life of Jacob Dolson Cox, Ohio Citizen – General” for the November 2017 Maryland Line.

Jean H. Baker authored “Mary Lincoln: A New Look at the First Lady” for the spring 2017 White House History.


John Bicknell, Lincoln’s Pathfinder: John C. Fremont and the Violent Election of 1856, rev. by Stephen D. Engle, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017); rev. by Robert K. Landers, The Wall Street Journal (July 31, 2017).

Mark F. Bielski, Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles, rev. by William B. Kurtz, Journal of Southern History (August 2017).

Sidney Blumenthal, Wrestling with his Angel: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln Vol. II, 1849-1856, rev. by David Shribman, Los Angeles Times (June 4, 2017); rev. by Michael Green, Washington Post (July 2, 2017); rev. by Randal M. Miller, Library Journal (April 1, 2017).

Ron Chernow, Grant, rev. by Bill Clinton, The New York Times Book Review (October 15, 2017); rev. by Geoffrey C. Ward, The Wall Street Journal (October 6, 2017); rev. by Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker (September 25, 2017); rev. by Janet Maslin, The New York Times (October 12, 2017); rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017); rev. by Lily Rothman, Time (October 16, 2017); rev. by T. J. Stiles, The Washington Post (October 8, 2017).

Daniel W. Crofts, Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union, rev. by Joan Waugh, Journal of Southern History (August 2017).

  1. H. Dilbeck, A More Civil War: How the Union Waged a Just War, rev. by Burrus Carnahan, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017).

Brian R. Dirck, Lincoln in Indiana, rev. by Jim Percoco, Civil War News (September 2017).

Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur, editors, The World the Civil War Made, rev. by Christopher Childers, Louisiana History (Summer 2017).

Stephen D. Engle, Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors, rev. by Louis P. Masur, Journal of the Civil War Era, (September 2017); rev. by Evan C. Rothera, The Lincoln Herald (Winter 2016); Kimberly N. Kutz, The Journal of Southern History (November 2017).

Ulysses S. Grant, The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, edited by John F. Marszalek, David S. Nolen, and Louie P. Gallo, rev. by T.J. Stiles, The New York Times Book Review (October 15, 2017).

William C. Harris, Lincoln and Congress, rev. by Steven R. Koppelman, Civil War News (August 2017).

Ronald L. Hatzenbuehler, Jefferson, Lincoln, and the Unfinished Work of the Nation, rev. by Robert G. Parkinson, Journal of Southern History (August 2017).

Timothy S. Huebner, Liberty and Union: The Civil War Era and American Constitutionalism, rev. by Mark A. Graber, Journal of the Civil War Era, (September 2017).

Candice Shy Hooper, Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives: Four Women who Influenced the Civil War, rev. by Amy Laurel Fluker, Civil War History (September 2017).

Thomas A. Horrocks, Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies, rev. by Brian Matthew Jordan, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2017).

Paul Kahan, Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln’s Scandalous Secretary of War, rev. by Chris Mackowski, Journal of Southern History (August 2017).

Fred Kaplan, Lincoln and the Abolitionist: John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War, rev. by Randal M. Miller, Library Journal (June 1, 2017); rev. by Manisha Sinha, The Washington Post (July 16, 2017).

Thomas Lowry, A Tourist Guide to Civil War Washington, D.C., rev. by Douglas Ullman, Jr., Civil War News (September 2017).

Preston Manning, A Horse for Mr. Lincoln, rev. by William Read, For the People (A Newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association) (Fall 2017).

Peter Manscau, The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man who Captured Lincoln’s Ghost, rev. by Errol Morris, The New York Times Book Review (October 29, 2017).

William Marvel, Lincoln’s Autocrat: The Life of Edwin Stanton, rev. by Christopher Stacey, Louisiana History.

Arthur H. Mitchell, Fighting Irish in the American Civil War and the Invasion of Mexico, rev. by Gould Hagler, Civil War News (August 2017).

William Murray and Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh, A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War, rev. by Mark Hertling, Civil War History (September 2017).

Mark E. Neeley, Jr., Lincoln and the Democrats, rev. by Harold Holzer, Wall Street Journal (March 20, 2017).

Bonnie E. Paull and Richard E. Hart, Lincoln’s Springfield Neighborhood, rev. by Erika Holst, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2017).

David Perry, Bluff, Bluster, Lies and Spies: The Lincoln Foreign Policy, 1861-1865, rev. by Hugh Dubrulle, Journal of Southern History (August 2017).

Nicholas J. C. Pistor, Shooting Lincoln, rev. by Harold Holzer, The Wall Street Journal (November 18-19, 2017).

Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell, Lincoln and the Jews: A History, rev. by Frank J. Williams, The American Jewish Archives Journal (Vol. LXIX-2017, #1).

Stephen W. Sears, Lincoln’s Lieutenants, rev. by Russell S. Bonds, Wall Street Journal (May 6-7, 2017) rev. by Chad E. Statler, Library Journal (March 1, 2017).

Walter Stahr, Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary, rev. by Charles K. Piehl, The Library Journal (July 2017).

David Seed, Stephen C. Kenny, and Chris Williams, Life and Limb: Perspectives on the American Civil War, rev. by Brian Matthew Gordan, Civil War History (September 2017).

Noah Andre Trudeau, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24-April 8, 1865, rev. by Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, The Lincoln Herald (Winter 2016).

Wayne C. Temple, Lincoln’s Surgeons at his Assassination, rev. by Frederick Hatch, Journal of the Lincoln Assassination (Vol. XXXI 2017).

Jonathan W. White, Emancipation, The Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln, rev. by Brian Matthew Jordan, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2017).


Jason H. Silverman, author or editor of eleven books – including his most recent, Lincoln and the Immigrant, will be writing a quarterly column for the Lincoln Herald to debut in the spring 2017 issue.

Craig Symonds, Civil War prize-winning author of Lincoln and His Admirals, was appointed Ernest J. King Distinguished Professor of Maritime History at the U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI.

Ron Chernow’s well-received biography, Grant, made number 1 on the non-fiction best seller list of the New York Times.

Eric B. Schultz has been elected the second board chairman of the Gettysburg Foundation.  Schultz succeeds Robert Kinsley, the Foundation’s founding chairman who will assume the role of chair emeritus.  He is the former chairman of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and has authored King Phillip’s War: The History and Legacy of America’s Forgotten Conflict.

Michael Lynch has succeeded Thomas Mackie as the Director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum at Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN.

Lincoln and Political Culture

Sidney Blumenthal, author of Wrestling with His Angel, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, 1849-1856 and A Self-Made Man, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume I 1809-1849, wrote in an op-ed, “What would Lincoln think of Trump?” for the Los Angeles Times on July 13.  To Blumenthal, “Trump’s sense of history is as limited as his self-control.”  “If we can deduce how Lincoln would perceive Trump, we can also surmise how he would advise Americans to handle him.  This is what he said [in his 1837 Lyceum Address] about the possible rise of an American demagogue, ‘And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.’”

James Taranto interviewed Allen Guelzo for the July 1-2 Wall Street Journal.  Guelzo, Director of the Civil War Era Studies Program at Gettysburg College, believes the nation is more bitterly split than ever–except for the Civil War era.  Guelzo thinks the divisions of the current era are the second worst in American history, adding: “The Civil War is really the only other time I can find where people are willing to sacrifice – completely sacrifice – national identity for local.”  “…Republicans think of themselves as Americans first, whereas today Democratic localism takes the form of sub national identity politics.  Do you identify yourself as being a woman, transgender, black, Latino… or do you identify yourself as an American?”

The summer 2017 Fine Books & Collections has a piece by Nick Basbanes on books published by the Library of America, giving sales figures.  The most popular: Jefferson’s Writings (229,186 copies), then Whitman’s Poetry and Prose (124,042), the two volumes of Lincoln’s speeches edited by Don Fehrenbacher (122,529 and 122,317), Flannery O’Connor, the first part of the debate on the Constitution (120,836), Thoreau’s A Week at Walden (116,461), Frost’s poems (115,498), and Grant’s Memoirs and letters (115,045).

Chris Britt’s cartoon “THIS WEEKfeatured two men fighting on a desk with signage, “Dysfunction & Infighting” at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum with a guide saying “And this display seems to be permanent.”

Karen Tumulty wrote “Historians Not Wavering on Best Presidents” in the February 18 Washington Post.  Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and the two Roosevelts, Franklin and Theodore, have kept their lock on their positions as, respectively, the four best presidents in American history according to the new ranking by 91 presidential historians for C-SPAN.  President Obama took the number 12 spot in his first time in the survey.  The presidents in the bottom rankings were the same as in 2000 and in 2009: Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan.

The presidency of Donald Trump and the not–so positive comparisons to other presidents–especially Abraham Lincoln–continue unabated.  The July 26 article in The Guardian by Julia Gregory and Amanda Holpuch (“Trump’s healthcare battle reminds Scaramucci of Lincoln fighting slavery”) draws parallels between the White House’s efforts to repeal President Obama’s health-care legislation to Lincoln’s struggle to end slavery.  Anthony Scaramucci told BBC News Night, “If you’ve read Team of Rivals, it took Lincoln three or four times to get what he wanted from the Senate and the House of Representatives, which was the full abolition of slavery–that was a much tougher thing to get done than what we’re working on right now.” In answer to Emily Maitlis’s observation that Trump was facing difficulty from his own party, Scaramucci added: “It took 22 months for President Obama to get what he wanted from the legislature.  We’re in the six months of the presidency, so think about the things we are trying to accomplish inside of one year.”

Well, what is the phenomenon called Donald Trump?  David Friend, in the September 3 Sunday New York Times, believes that “the ‘90s gave us the Trump teens” where a sex “scandal” and the Trumps’ messy divorce, was but the opening salvo in a decade dominated by baby boomers who had taken the cultural reins in Hollywood, on Madison Avenue – and in Washington.  Here’s what soon followed: An escalation in tabloid coverage in general; the birth of the web, Fox News and the 24-7 news cycle; incessant personal branding; and a new coarseness in public discourse.”  Abraham Lincoln could not have survived in this environment.  “The Naughty Nineties have imploded to become the Tawdry Teens.  All truth is malleable and all secrets are exposed, as a nation watches compulsively, which is how we watch Reality TV.  True, Mr. Trump lost the popular vote.  But America has received what much of the nation had been asking for since the 1990s.  In the electoral recording, civility had been trumped by hostility, respect by chauvinism, tolerance by bigotry, truth by fabrication and deceit, privacy by exposure, modesty by exhibitionism, achievement by fame, shame by shamelessness, and bridges by walls.”  All are in contrast to what President Lincoln gave us with his character, nobility, and care for people and the nation.

Respected New York Times columnist David Brooks, in his August 22 column, “What Moderates Believe,” opines that Donald Trump is not the answer to this nation’s problems so if not Trump, who?”  “For some people the warriors of the populist right must be replaced by warriors of the populist left.  For these people, Trump has revealed an ugly authoritarian tenancy in American society that has to be fought with relentless fervor and moral clarity.  For others, it’s Trump’s warrior mentality itself that must be replaced.  Warriors on one side inevitably call forth warriors on the other, and that just means more culture war, more barbarism, more dishonesty and more dysfunction.”  Even though many people dislike the word “moderate,” it is better “to stick with this word, at least until a better one comes along.  Moderates do not see politics as warfare.  Instead, national politics is a voyage with a fractious fleet.  Wisdom is finding the right formation of ships for each specific circumstance so the whole assembly can ride the waves forward for another day.  Moderation is not an ideology; it’s a way of coping with the complexity of the world.  Moderates tend to embrace certain ideas.  Lincoln is a prime example of being a moderate.  Why not try practical, pragmatic and common sensical?”

The “Lost Cause” debate over the removal of Confederate monuments continued unabated.  John Meacham, in “Why Confederates Should Go,” penned for the August 22 New York Times, argues that while “it’s ahistoric to judge figures from the past by our own moral standards.  Yet we need not contort ourselves to find [Nathan Bedford] Forrest wanting as an object of veneration.  He was condemned for outrages and atrocities in his own time.  One example: the massacre at Fort Pillow in April 1864, … where Forrest’s men ‘cruelly butchered every colored soldier they could lay hands upon,” according to a report in the Chicago Tribune not long after.”  In closing, Meacham says, quoting Union General William T. Sherman: “There will never be peace in Tennessee until Forrest is dead.”  Like his more celebrated remark that war is hell, Sherman was onto something.  The good news in this grim period of 2017 is that reasonable Southerners may be ready to give peace a chance” especially when the current Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam, states, “I don’t believe Nathan Bedford Forrest should be one of the individuals we honor at the Capitol.  That history should be put in a museum not in a place of honor.”

And in the Washington Times on August 17, Douglas Ernst writes that Abraham Lincoln has joined George Washington on the list of those targeted by Chicagoans in a national debate over Civil War-era monuments.  A Chicago alderman took to Facebook to decry the defacing of a Lincoln statue in the Englewood neighborhood, erected by Phil Bloomquist in 1926, and now damaged and burned by vandals.  But the September 10 New York Times, in an article by Shivani Vora (“America’s Most Popular Statues”), observes that the University of Texas at Austin removed three Confederate statues as the latest in a string of Confederate monuments being taken down around the country in the wake of the Charlottesville, Virginia rally.  About 400 to 500 of these Confederate statues remain in the United States according to Kevin R. C. Gutzman, a history professor at Western Connecticut State University.  While receiving plenty of attention, Vora observes, they are not the ones that draw the most visitors.  In fact, quite a few popular statues are towering monuments to presidents and freedom.  She and the editors listed the five most popular statues in the United States based on data from the National Park Service, among others.  None honor those who served in the Confederate effort to undo the United States.  They are simply an iconic part of America’s history.  The first is the Lincoln Memorial.  The Washington site drew 4.74 million visitors during July 2017.  It opened to the public in 1922 with acclaimed American sculptor Daniel Chester French’s statue overlooking the Mall.  The next is Mount Rushmore.  This memorial, in Keystone, South Dakota, features four, 60-foot-tall statues depicting the faces of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.  Construction started in 1927 and the memorial opened in 1941:  1.46 million people visited Mt. Rushmore during July 2017.  Next comes the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France.  This 151-foot-tall copper statue was dedicated in October 1886 and is meant to be a symbol of freedom.  National Park Service data show that 2.6 million people visited the statue in July.  Numbers 4 & 5 are Christ of the Ozarks, inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.  It is welded into the side of Magnetic Mountain in Arkansas.  And the last, Atlas, Lee Lawrie’s 1937 45-foot-tall bronze statue of the half-man, half-guard Greek mythological figure, is the largest outdoor sculpture at Rockefeller Center.  Both TripAdvisor and Travelport rank Rockefeller Center as among the 10 most visited attractions in the United States.

“Arts, Briefly” from the September 2, New York Times reported that the “Dakota Tribe plans to bury sculpture.”  The remains of Scaffold, a sculpture that prompted outrage among Native Americans during the summer of 1917 when it was placed in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, will be buried in a secret location in Minnesota.  The piece depicted gallows and was intended to represent seven state-sanctioned executions, including the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota, after the Dakota War of 1862.  President Lincoln had pardoned all but 38 Sioux implicated in this war. Within days of the sculpture’s placement in the park, on former Dakota land, protestors arrived on the site demanding its removal.  The sculpture was dismantled and put in storage.  The artist, Sam Durant, gave the Dakota people a copyright to the work and the museum’s director apologized for not having reached out to the Native American group earlier in the process.  The wood, which weighs 51,000 pounds, will require two semi-trucks and a portable crane to move it.

Another “what if” question arises with William Kaelin, Jr.’s piece, “Climate Change–What Would Lincoln Do?” which appeared in JAMA on August 15.  Dr. Kaelin offers two views about climate change:  reports that we are contributing to climate changes and others claiming that climate change and the attribution to man is part of a scientist-led conspiracy.  Dr. Kaelin believes that the latter accusation is ridiculous since scientists have trouble agreeing on anything.  But to the author, “Abraham Lincoln foresaw the need for a source of sound and objective scientific advice to avoid such debacles.”  Kaelin points out that in 1863, President Lincoln created the U.S. National Academy of Sciences to provide the government with the best available, data-driven recommendations on scientific matters in an apolitical manner.  The National Academy of Sciences has a rigorous vetting process for electing its members in creating scientific reports for policy makers.  To the author, “The United States can either lead or follow with respect to climate change.  The United States can make decisions based on science or on expedience and wishful thinking.  Winston Churchill allegedly said, You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.’  … Hopefully, President Trump and certain members of Congress will eschew anti-intellectual rhetoric on climate change and emulate Lincoln who, in addition to creating the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, admonished.  You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.’”

Charles Schultz’s “Classic Peanuts,” appearing in the Washington Post on January 11, has Charlie Brown saying: “That’s my book you’re reading!” and in the next graph, “It is said that Abraham Lincoln once walked through a blizzard to return a borrowed book.”  “You won’t even walk across the room!” and finally, “I should have loaned my book to Abraham Lincoln!”

As if the ongoing controversy over Confederate monuments was not enough to demonstrate a “House Divided,” White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, (Glenn Thrush’s “White House Chief’s Remarks on the Civil War Illicit an Angry Response,” the New York Times, November 1, 2017), created a kerfuffle by suggesting that “compromise” could have prevented the Civil War.  Criticism was immediate, citing a failure to assign culpability to slave holding states as the cause of the Civil War.  “We need to stop relitigating and referencing the Civil War as if there was some moral conundrum,” said Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, the only black Republican in the Senate.  “There was no compromise to make–only a choice between continuing slavery and ending it.”  Historians, too, disagree with Kelly.  David Blight stated: “The real story, the great tragedy of the coming of the Civil War, was that there was no middle left anymore in American politics,” adding “Most any measure of compromise had been tried, and had been worn out.”  And the question remains, what should be done with civic monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders.  Harold Holzer remains “torn.”  While he abhors “the iconoclastic destruction of art by offended citizens,” he adds that “using preservation of a mediocre Jefferson Davis statue to rally neo-Nazi’s waiving the stars and bars is a repugnant exercise that deserves condemnation.”  Gary W. Gallagher, Director of the Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, believes that, “…taking down statues…potentially inhibits a real understanding of our past, warts and all, and can obscure important themes, movements, and errors.”  And William C. (“Jack”) Davis believes that, “Removing statues in New Orleans and elsewhere is unfortunate, however understandable… ‘Lost Cause’ mythology claims that Confederates seceded over self-determination.”

The Associated Press reported on November 4, 2017 that Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary, which aired nearly 30 years ago, remains popular but now subject to debate.  The 11-hour, nine-part series premiered in September 1990 with some 40 million taking in at least part of the original broadcast.  White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the film in defense of Chief of Staff John F. Kelly who argued that compromise could have averted secession and war.  Burns challenged Sanders’ interpretation on Twitter, writing:  “Many factors contributed to the Civil War.  One caused it: slavery.”  He also noted that Barbara Fields, a scholar of slavery featured in the mini-series, said at the end of the documentary that “The Civil War is still going on.  It’s still to be fought and regrettably it can still be lost.”

The July 2 Washington Post published Yuval Levin’s op-ed, “Patriotism Divides.  It Could Unite.”  Levin writes that patriotism should embrace a love of country based on a shared national memory.  “We are conflicted along lines of party, region, education, and class – and these divisions have left us with a politics that just feels broken.  We all love our country, but we can’t even agree on why and how to love it.  Patriotism itself has become a sticking point.”  Abraham Lincoln discussed three forms of patriotism.   He believed that it was a mistake to think of “American exceptionalism.” It is really a restraint on “self-congratulations” because it always compels us to confront the fact that we fall short of our ideals.  America is exceptional because it was founded on principles that guide our public life, yet remain aspirational.

“What Lincoln Knew About American – And So Must We” by Michael Gerson appeared in the Washington Post on July 14.  Abraham Lincoln saw the Declaration of Independence as fulfillment of a moral ideal.  “It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the Motherland; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time.  It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance.”  Gerson believes that “By definition, America can’t be a normal nation.  It stands for more than getting and keeping.  Its greatness is a greatness of spirit.  And its failures – such as slavery, segregation and the shameful treatment of Native Americans – are not only legal but also spiritual failures.  They are blasphemy against the country’s creed…the main role of the Declaration is humanization.  These ideals are desperately needed and roundly ignored.”

The August 2 Washington Post Retropolis featured Michael S. Rosenwald discussing “Was Mary Todd Lincoln a White House Leaker? Rumors Surrounded First Lady.”


Michael E. Miller wrote “The Global Chase After Accused Lincoln Assassin: John Surratt Alluded Authorities Time and Again” for the April 14 Washington Post.

Hung in Black, a new play on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, was performed in Chicago.

Works in Progress

Harold Holzer’s forthcoming Immigration in the Age of Lincoln, will be published by Dutton.

Warren Greer is at work on a manuscript, Lincoln’s Secret: A Model for Authentic Success.

Donald Motier is at work on He Had Rare Lights: A Biography of William Wallace Lincoln.

Every Drop of Blood: The Untold Story of Lincoln’s Second Inauguration is being drafted by Edward Achorn, editorial page editor of The Providence Journal.


Ian Roland, retired President and Chief Operating Officer of the Lincoln National Life Insurance Company and Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Lincoln National Foundation that supported the Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana, passed away on July 1, 2017.  He also served as a member of the Board of Advisors for the Lincoln Institute for Leadership in Public Policy of Lincoln Memorial University.

Author’s Note

I want to thank Florence J. Baur, Randal Berry, Roger Billings, Kenneth L. Childs, James M. Cornelius, Aaron Crawford, Sybil and Bill Forsythe, Harold Holzer, Richard Sloan, Tom Lapsley, Dave Leroy, William D. Pederson, Joseph Fornieri, Robert F. Henderson, Jr., Thomas Horrocks, Wayne C. Temple, Edward Steers, Jr., David J. Stiller, Jo Dzombak, Guy C. Fraker, Malcolm Garber, Mike Marlow, Ralph S. McCrea, William K. Miller, David Warren, John Schildt, Philip W. Stichter, Thomas J. Trimborn, Justice William P. Robinson III, Judges W. Dennis Duggan and Dennis Curran, Frank and Virginia Musgrave, Mike Gross, Larry Morris 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