FRANK J. WILLIAMS
The Spoken Word and Group Activities
The Habeas Corpus Hearings of Joseph Smith and Discussion of Habeas Corpus in the Courts: Protecting Individual Liberties From Joseph Smith to Abraham Lincoln to Guantanamo, produced by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission were staged in Springfield, IL, on September 24, and in Chicago on October 14, 2013.
Bob Maher and his Civil War Education Association presented the 22nd Annual Sarasota Civil War Symposium, January 22-25, with William C. (“Jack”) Davis moderating. Presentations included James I. (“Bud”) Robertson (“Lincoln and His Generals’ Wives: How Four Women Influenced the Course of the Civil War”), Candice S. Hooper (“For Better or For Worse”), Richard M. McMurry (“Me and ‘Ol’ Hood”), Frank J. Williams (“Battlefield Casualties and the Pressure for Peace Almost Derail Lincoln’s Bid for Re-election”), Harold Holzer (“The Civil War in 50 Objects”), Robert K. Krick (“T.J. Jackson’s Lexington Years” and “Stonewall Jackson’s Dreadful Judgment About Subordinates”), Edwin C. Bearss (“The Three Worst Confederate Generals of the Rank of Lt. General or Above”), Thomas K. Tate “Arming the Union”), and Eric H. Jacobson (“The Sultana Disaster”).
The symposium Abraham Lincoln and the Constitution took place at HistoryMiami on January 25. James M. McPherson presented the keynote and a panel, moderated by Harold Holzer, Frank J. Williams, Thomas Campbell, and Miami School of Law Professors Ediberto Roman and Noah Weisbord.
Elliott Trommald spoke on “Lincoln, Spielberg, and a search for Meaning in the Civil War” at the Kiwanis Club in Portland, OR, on January 31. Mr. Trommald also spoke on “Lincoln and the Meaning of Time” at the Trinity Cathedral in Portland on January 12.
On February 7, Frank Williams presented “Lincoln and Gettysburg” at the Dunn’s Corners Community Church, Presbyterian, in Westerly, RI.
On February 9, Jay Crisp delivered “He Still Belongs to the Ages: Lincoln’s Continuing Hold on America” for the Lincoln at the Library series of the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN.
Duke Russell organized his 22nd Annual Abraham Lincoln Remembrance at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood with a recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by former LA Mayor Richard Riordan. Remembrances, since 1994, have featured actors Charlton Heston, Hal Holbrook, Mickey Rooney, and Michael York.
Richard Etulain discussed his book, Lincoln and Oregon Country Politics in the Civil War Era, at Van Mall in Vancouver, WA, on February 12.
Actors Stephen Lang (reading Lincoln) and Porgy and Bess Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis (reading Frederick Douglass) joined narrator Harold Holzer to debut Holzer’s latest picture-and-words performance, The Unknown Lincoln-Douglass Debate, composed of actual conversations, speeches, and letters between the two men, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 18.
David Von Drehle, author of Rise to Greatness, presented to the Lincoln Group of New York about the President and the year 1862 on February 19.
Southern Methodist University Center for Presidential History, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza hosted When Life Strikes the White House: Death, Scandal, Illness, and the Responsibilities of a President on February 18-19. Journalist and author Richard Reeves delivered the keynote lecture with panel discussions on the subjects of “Personal Crises and Public Responsibility,” “A Loss in the Family,” and “Presidential Illness.”
Megan Kate Nelson presented “Ruin Nation: Destruction in the American Civil War” at the February 19 meeting of the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table.
Seattle-based storyteller Norm Brecke presented “The Lighter Side of Lincoln” at the Nativity Lutheran Church in Bend, OR, on February 21.
Lincoln actor Steve Holgate delivered “A Town Hall Meeting with Abraham Lincoln” at the Springridge Assisted Living Center in Wilsonville, OR, on February 21.
Dale Jirik presented “Lincoln’s Finest Quality—Leadership” at the March 4 meeting of the Lincoln Club of Topeka.
Harold Holzer presented “The Civil War in 50 Objects” at The Union League Club of Philadelphia, co-sponsored by the city’s Civil War Round Table, on March 26.
Harold Holzer, John Marszalek, and James McPherson explored the Battle of Shiloh—and Abraham Lincoln’s faith in General Ulysses S. Grant—at the New-York Historical Society on April 2.
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum of Lincoln Memorial University hosted the Lincoln symposium Lincoln and the War on April 4 and 5 with speakers Brian McKnight, Daniel Stowell, Frank J. Williams, Anne Marshall and Warren Greer. A panel followed.
The Lincoln Group of Boston featured Dr. David Fleishman, who discussed “Abraham Lincoln’s Spectacles” on April 5.
Thomas Bogar discussed his Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre at the Lincoln Group of New York meeting on April 8.
The annual meeting of the Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin met at the Lincoln-Tallman House in Janesville on April 12 with a presentation by Thomas L. Carson, “Lincoln as a Moral Exemplar.”
The Abraham Lincoln Society of Bangladesh and the Friends of America held a Lincoln’s Day program on February 12 in Dhaka. It was held in cooperation with the U.S. Bangladesh Foundation.
William D. Pederson, LSU Shreveport, spoke to 200 students at Herndon Middle Magnet School in Belcher, Louisiana, on February 18. The topic of his presentation was “Why Lincoln is the Greatest Democratic Political Leader in World History.”
The International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport held a symposium for AP U.S. history students from Captain Shreve High School on February 21 and March 5 on “Ranking American Presidents.” Barbara Doughty and William Pederson were speakers.
Professor Md. Manzur Alam (East West University, Bangladesh) visited the International Lincoln Center on February 27. He presented several items from the new Lincoln College in Bangladesh.
William Pederson has been named by the Centre for Contemporary Theory, Vadodara, India, as the convener of the 17th international Forum on Contemporary Theory to be held on December 21-24 in Goa. The Forum will include a panel on Lincoln’s legacy in the world.
The Association of Third World Studies (ATWS) will hold its 32nd annual conference in Denver, Colorado, on October 16-18. It will include a panel on Lincoln’s impact on the third world. Dr. Norman W. Provizer (Metropolitan University of Denver) is directing the conference.
The Marshall Islands has issued a souvenir sheet honoring the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (A384), and Liberia has issued an Abraham Lincoln stamp with Harriet Tubman (2848b).
Arts & Entertainment
Six Degrees of
Kevin Bacon, Abraham Lincoln was performed in Springfield, IL, at the Hoogland Center for the Arts on February 2. Jointly sponsored by the Sangamon County Historical Society and Lincoln Land Community College, it featured Fritz Klein as Lincoln.
A new stamp featuring the Abraham Lincoln of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., was released in Springfield, IL, on February 12.
Lincoln actor Steve Holgate presented his two-act play, “A. Lincoln,” at the Lakewood Theater in Lake Oswego, OR, on February 17.
As a ramp-up to the forthcoming exhibit The Grand Review, L’Enfant Gallery of Georgetown hosted “From Lincoln’s Hands to Grant’s Shoulders on March 9, 1864,” marked the anniversary of Grant’s promotion to Lieutenant General. The original shoulder straps with three silver stars presented by President Lincoln to General Grant were on display. Harold Holzer and Frank J. Williams presented Grant Seen and Heard for the occasion. The collections of Don Tharpe, Robert Lang, and Peter Colasante form the hundred or so items that will be exhibited for The Grand Review.
Lincoln and the Technology of War, designed by Steven Wilson of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, opened in January at the Ford’s Theatre Center for Education and Leadership in Washington, D.C.
The Civil War 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning Through the Words of Those Who Lived It was on display for the Rhode Island Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Commission at the State House in Providence from March 6 to March 21. The Gilder Lehrman Institute developed the exhibit with the Library of America.
Two Years, One Month: Lincoln’s Legacy, an exhibit from the Mark Family Collection, will be on display April 12 to July 4 at the Oregon Historical Society, Portland.
Civil War Sesquicentennial
The film 12 Years a Slave, along with the 19th century book upon which the movie is based, accompanied by a study guide, will be distributed to public high schools by the National School Boards Association in partnership with New Regency, Penguin Books and the filmmakers.
Awards and Prizes
The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation authorized funding grants to programs at its January Board meeting. These include $25,000 to support continued research by the Lincoln Papers Project in Springfield, IL; $2,500 to help fund a Summer 2014 lecture series and curriculum workshop for Illinois K-12 teachers on Lincoln, slavery and emancipation at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL; $10,000 to support the rehabilitation and restoration of the Gettysburg Address Memorial at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery near the spot where Lincoln gave his most famous speech in 1863; $5,000 to help underwrite a web-based course in anti-slavery legislation at President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldier’s Home, Washington; and $1,000 to the Images of the Motherland Interactive Theatre in Philadelphia to support the latest Emancipation Proclamation Jubilee Weekend.
James M. McPherson received the first Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation Award following his keynote address at HistoryMiami, FL, on January 25.
The 2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize of $50,000 went to co-winners Allen C. Guelzo for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion and Martin P. Johnson for Writing the Gettysburg Address. Steven Spielberg received a Special Achievement Award for his Lincoln movie.
James Oakes received the 2014 Barondess Lincoln Award from the Civil War Round Table of New York for his Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States 1861-1865. James M. McPherson received the Bell I. Wiley Award on April 9, and Allen C. Guelzo received the Fletcher Pratt Award on May 14 from this Round Table.
A huge covered wagon has long drawn people from around the nation to Lincoln, IL. On January 26, the wagon was severely damaged by 55 mph wind gusts that whipped through the town, the first named for Abraham Lincoln. But the wagon’s driver, “Abraham Lincoln,” was uninjured. The 24-foot-tall wagon and statue are located along U.S. Route 66 and will be repaired, Joan Cary reported in the February 2 Chicago Tribune.
Randell D. Bumgarner, graduate of Lincoln Memorial University, donated two monogrammed Mary Todd Lincoln handkerchiefs to the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum. Mr. Bumgarner also donated a document signed by President Barrack Obama which completes, to date, the museum’s Presidential Collection. The handkerchiefs will be exhibited with locks of hair of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, and William Wallace Lincoln.
The newly restored couch upon which Abraham Lincoln courted Mary Todd was unveiled at the Springfield Art Association on February 11. The sofa originally belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln’s sister Elizabeth. It was located in the parlor of the Edwardses’ mansion when Mary Todd received her suitors and where the Lincolns were married. It took $8,290.00 from the Conservation Center in Chicago to restore the relic, with partial funding provided by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation.
On February 17, Dahleen Glanton reported in the Chicago Tribune that the Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield is seeking an update. The nine-year-old museum, costing $170 million, is showing its age, but the State of Illinois cannot afford to pay for it.
Getty Images, the photo agency, announced that it will allow noncommercial websites and social media users to publish its images at no cost by using an embedding tool. The decision was formally announced at the South by Southwest Festival on March 9. The embedding tool will give websites and social media users access to roughly 40 million images, out of a digital collection of 60 million.
The Lincoln Heritage Museum of Lincoln College in Lincoln, IL, opened on April 26 with a new and redesigned museum.
Books and Pamphlets
Liveright Publishing has produced I am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War by Jerome Charyn.
Lyons Press published James B. Conroy’s Our One Common Country: Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865.
The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation by David Brion Davis has been published by Knopf.
The Concise Lincoln Series of Southern Illinois University Press published Thomas A. Horrocks’ Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies as well as Lincoln and Religion by the late Ferenc Morton Szasz with Margaret Connell Szasz. Southern Illinois University Press also published Joseph R. Fornieri’s Abraham Lincoln, Philosopher Statesman and the new title, We Called Him Rabbi Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, a Documentary History by Gary Phillip Zola.
The Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin Historical Bulletin #67, Henry F. Halleck: Lincoln’s Commanding General by John F. Marszalek, has been published by the Fellowship (P.O. Box 1863, Janesville, WI 53545).
William Nester wrote The Age of Lincoln and the Art of American Power, 1848-1876 for Potomac Books.
Charles B. Strozier has revised his Lincoln’s Quest for Union: A Psychological Portrait with a new foreword by Geoffrey C. Ward (Paul Dry Books).
Viking has published Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image by Joshua Zeitz.
Civil War Sesquicentennial and Related Books
Elizabeth R. Varon’s Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War has been published by Oxford University Press.
The Summer 2013 Lincoln Herald included “‘Serving the Lord and Abe Lincoln’s Spirit’: Lincoln and Memory in the WPA Narratives” by David Silkenat and John Barr; “The Harrison and Lincoln Family Connections: Virginia, Kentucky, and Illinois” by Jim Siberell; and “Lincolniana” by Frank J. Williams.
Jerry Desko wrote an overview of 1863 for the January 27 Gettysburg Times, “Synopsis of 1863.”
Joshua Zeitz wrote “Lincoln’s Boys” for the February Smithsonian.
Dr. Robert Streter wrote “Lincoln’s Unshakeable Faith” for the February 5 Hamodia.
Rich Saal wrote about the Lincoln Friendship Train that carried gifts from Americans to war-torn Europe and left on February 12, 1948 from Springfield’s Wabash railroad station—the same depot from which Lincoln left for Washington to be inaugurated the 16th president on February 11, 1861.
Tevi Troy wrote “The Presidential Bible Class” for the Wall Street Journal on February 13 in which the author opines that Abraham Lincoln’s diligent reading of the Bible was a source for the Gettysburg Address.
Richard Brookhiser wrote “What Would Lincoln Do?” for the February 15-16 Wall Street Journal. He believes that modern-day politicians could learn much from the 16th president by making their cases public, using a sense of humor, as well as embracing unlikely allies. Kevin Peraino, in the same issue of the WSJ, wrote “A Policy of ‘One War at a Time’” noting that Abraham Lincoln, as a diplomat, was a lifelong skeptic of grand foreign adventures and was reluctant to intervene in disputes he considered none of his country’s business.
Hari Jones wrote “The Loyal League in the Training and Recruiting of U.S. Colored Troops” for the March Maryland Line.
“Robert Todd Lincoln and the Lincoln Legend” by Blaine V. Houmes appeared in the Winter 2014 Manuscripts.
The March Civil War History included “‘Let Us Hear No More Nativism’: The Catholic Press in the Mexican and Civil Wars” by William B. Kurtz, “Paths to Reconciliation: Northern Intersectional Romances of the Civil War Era” by Megan L. Bever, and “Douglas Southall Freeman, the Civil War, and the Idea of the South” by Keith Dickson.
Thomas A. Bogar, Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2014).
Gregory A. Borchard, Abraham Lincoln and Horace Greeley, rev. by Michael Burkhimer, the Lincoln Herald (Summer 2013).
Jerome Charyn, I am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War, rev. by Richard Brookhiser, the New York Times Book Review (February 23, 2014); rev. by Andrew Delbanco, the New York Review of Books (March 6, 2014).
David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation, rev. by Drew Gilpin Faust, The New York Review of Books (March 20, 2014).
Brian R. Dirck, Lincoln and the Constitution, rev. by James E. Sefton, Civil War History (March 2014).
Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, editors, Lincoln’s America: 1809-1865, rev. by Wayne C. Temple, the Lincoln Herald (Summer 2013).
Louis S. Gerteis, The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History, rev. by Joseph M. Beilein, Jr., Civil War History (March 2014).
Robert Harrison, Washington During Civil War and Reconstruction: Race and Radicalism, rev. by Robert S. Wolff, Journal of Southern History (February 2014).
Frederick Hatch, Protecting President Lincoln: The Security Effort, The Thwarted Plots and the Disaster at Ford’s Theatre, rev. by Hugh Boyle, the Lincoln Herald (Summer 2013).
Neil Kagan, Smithsonian Civil War: Inside the National Collection, rev. by Michael Taylor, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2014).
Louis P. Masur, Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War History (March 2014).
James M. McPherson, War on the Waters: The Union and Confederate Navies, 1861-1865, rev. by Andrew Duppstadt, Civil War History (March 2014).
Lincoln and Leadership: Military, Political, and Religious Decision Making, edited by Randall M. Miller, rev. by Richard Striner, the Journal of Southern History (February 2014).
The Cambridge Companion to Abraham Lincoln, edited by Shirley Samuels, rev. by W. Stuart Towns, Journal of Southern History (February 2014).
John David Smith, Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops, rev. by John F. Marszalek, Civil War News (February/March 2014).
Steven Spielberg, director, Lincoln, with a screenplay by Tony Kushner, rev. by Thomas J. Trimborn, the Lincoln Herald (Summer 2013).
Joan Waugh, U.S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth, rev. by Gregory J.W. Urwin, the Lincoln Herald (Summer 2013).
Kenneth J. Winkle, Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D.C., rev. by Matthew Norman, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2014).
John Fabian Witt, Lincoln’s Code, rev. by Tom Ryley, The Dispatch of the Civil War Round Table of New York (February 2014).
Doris Kearns Goodwin’s library and workspace were profiled in the January 17 Wall Street Journal.
Wayne C. Temple was congratulated with a citation from the 98th General Assembly of the Illinois House of Representatives on his 90th birthday, February 5.
Bruce Tap wrote “A Tribute to Robert W. Johannsen” in the March Civil War History.
Lincoln and Political Culture
Timothy B. Wheeler wrote “Maryland Lawmakers Asked to Revisit Vote For Slavery” for The Baltimore Sun on January 30. In 1861, he notes, Maryland’s lawmakers voted unanimously for a constitutional amendment to prevent the federal government from abolishing slavery. The Maryland legislature is now considering rescinding the state’s 1862 ratification of the so-called “shadow” 13th Amendment which, unlike the final version, would have locked slavery into the United States Constitution.
Charles M. Blow complained about Republicans who called President Obama a “lawless” dictator over his threat to issue executive orders circumventing Congress, in the February 8 Op-Ed section of the New York Times. Blow published a list of the executive orders issued by all of the chief executives, including Abraham Lincoln (48), FDR (1,081), and Ulysses S. Grant (217).
Stephen Totilo reported in the February 12 “Arts” section of the New York Times that President Lincoln is one of several absurd sidekicks ready for adventure in The Lego Movie Videogame.
Joseph Epstein discussed Lord Charnwood’s Abraham Lincoln (1916), considered by him and many to be brilliant, in the February 15-16 Wall Street Journal. Written for citizens of Great Britain, the Charnwood book has a universal appeal. Epstein closes with a section from Charnwood’s conclusion:
For he was a citizen of that far country where there is neither aristocrat nor democrat. No political theory stands out from his words or actions; but they show a most unusual sense of the possible dignity of common men and common things…. If he had a theory of democracy it was contained in this condensed note which he wrote, perhaps as an autograph, a year or two before his presidency: “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.”
Works in Progress
The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia is preparing a commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural on March 4, 2015, and his assassination on April 14-15, 2015.
The Heritage Center in Springfield, OH, home of William T. Sherman, will present a Civil War symposium on April 11, 2015. Presenters include Harold Holzer, Frank J. Williams, John Marszalek and Mark Grimsley.
The Lincoln Funeral Train is a project of the Historic Railroad Equipment Association with plans to recreate the Lincoln Funeral Car. The train is expected to be complete with an Officers’ Car in April 2015.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Chernow is at work on a biography of Ulysses S. Grant.
Matthew Warshauer is at work on a play, The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
William D. “Bill” Beard, 61, passed away on January 24 at Memorial Medical Center, Springfield, IL. For fifteen years beginning in 1985, he served as an assistant editor for the Abraham Lincoln Legal Papers Project in Springfield.
Vietnam veteran and Abraham Lincoln portrayer Ed Friedrich of Bremerton, WA, died on Lincoln’s birthday. He was 72.
I want to thank Thom Bassett, Randal Berry, Roger Billings, Kenneth L. Childs, Aaron Crawford, Sybil and Bill Forsythe, Harold Holzer, Richard Sloan, Tom Lapsley, Dave Leroy, William D. Pederson, Dennis E. Stark, Joseph Fornieri, Thomas Horrocks, Wayne C. Temple, Edward Steers, Jr., David J. Stiller, Jo Dzombak, Guy Fraker, Malcolm Garber, Mike Marlow, Ralph S. McCrea, William K. Miller, Tracey Minkin, 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, 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 email@example.com.