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The Spoken Word and Group Activities

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and the Illinois State Society of Washington, DC, hosted the 150th Anniversary Commemoration of President Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol on March 4.  Harold Holzer chaired and spoke, as did Ray H. LaHood, former member of Congress and Secretary of Transportation, Edna Greene Medford, and Frank J. Williams.  Actor Stephen Lang delivered the Second Inaugural Address.

On March 4, Ford’s Theatre hosted a panel discussion with Chris Matthews, Clayborne Carson, Reverend Gary Hall and Douglas L. Wilson with the theme Civil War to Civil Rights: The last Great Speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Frank J. Williams delivered the 25th Parker Lecture, “The Lincoln Assassination in Law and Lore” at the Haverford School, Haverford, PA, on March 11.  He also presented “Keeping the Promise: Abraham Lincoln and the 13th Amendment” with film clips from Spielberg’s Lincoln the following day for the students of the Haverford School.

The White House Historical Association hosted a luncheon and dinner program Life in the Lincoln White House on March 13.  Fritz Klein portrayed Abraham Lincoln and Harold Holzer delivered remarks.

The Surratt Society and Surratt House Museum hosted a Lincoln assassination conference, He Belongs to the Ages, on March 21 with Terry Alford discussing his book Fortunes Fool; and James Marten, “James Tanner’s First Brush with History”; Kim Matthew Bauer, “The Lincoln Assassination’s Reverberation on Mary Lincoln’s Life”; Scott D. Trostel, “The Lincoln Funeral Train”; and Frank J. Williams, “The Lincoln Assassination in Law and Lore” – “Collecting for the Ages,” and “Why Lincoln Matters.”  Richard Sloan presented “A. Lincoln – Hollywood’s Leading Man,” with Lincoln movie stills, at the closing banquet.

James M. McPherson presented “Why the Civil War Still Matters” at the Smithsonian on March 25.

The Lincoln Group of New York commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Lincoln assassination conspiracy on March 28 at Cooper Union with a tour of the Great Hall where Lincoln spoke in 1860,  led by Harold Holzer, welcoming remarks by the LGNY President Steven R. Koppelman, “The Lincoln Assassination and Military Tribunals” by Frank J. Williams, “African Americans at Lincoln’s New York Funeral” by Barnet Schecter, a panel “The Lincoln Conspirators,” with Richard E. Sloan, moderator, and panelists Michael Kauffman, Kate Larson, and Dave Taylor.  The keynote was presented by James Oakes who spoke about “Lincoln’s Legacy.”  Darrel Blaine Ford portrayed Walt Whitman.

On April 2, Louis Masur presented “Lincoln’s Last Speech and the Problem of Reconstruction” at the American Antiquarian Society.  On April 9, Richard Wightman Fox delivered “Lincoln’s Republicanism as a way of Life” at the Society.

The National Archives hosted Terry Alford discussing his book Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth on April 7.  Harold Holzer presented President Lincoln Assassinated!!: The First-Hand Story of the Murder, Manhunt, Trial, and Mourning on April 16; on April 18, E. Lawrence Abel discussed his book A Finger in Lincoln’s Brain: What Modern Science Reveals about Lincoln, His Assassination, and its Aftermath; Brian Matthew Jordan discussed his book Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War; and Joseph Wheelan spoke on Their Last Full Measure: The Final Days of the Civil War.  On April 20, Michael Beschloss and Cokie Roberts looked at how the Civil War changed Washington, DC, particularly the role of women.  On April 22, William Marvel reexamined Secretary of War Edwin Stanton’s life, career, and legacy, the subject of his book.

The Providence (RI) Marine Corps of Artillery honored seven Medal of Honor recipients – the artillerymen of Battery G, 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery – on April 9, with Frank J. Williams presenting “Lincoln’s Legacy.”  On April 10, Williams presented “Lincoln on Film: From the Silents to Spielberg” at the Lincoln in Our Time conference held at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg.

The Lincoln Group of Boston heard Thomas Turner speak on the death of Abraham Lincoln on April 11 at Stonehill College, Easton, MA.

Walter L. Powell delivered “Gettysburg’s Most Famous Address: The David Wills House” at the April 15 meeting of the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table.

On April 15, the Death Day Association, Inc. commemorated the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL.

The “Honoring Lincoln” symposium was held in Springfield, IL,  sponsored by the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition and The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. Presentations included, on April 15, “Life, Death and Care: Abraham Lincoln & His Family” by Wayne C. Temple and “Seasons of Sadness:” The Final Days of Lincoln’s Wife and Sons by Jason EmersonTerry Alford presented “Assassination/Conspiracy” on April 23 and Edna Greene Medford presented “Lincoln’s Legacy of Justice & Opportunity” on May 2.

On April 17, Fred Zilian, Jr. portrayed Abraham Lincoln at the Jane Pickens Theater, Newport, RI, with A Tribute to the Civil War & Abraham Lincoln.  Frank J. Williams moderated with the Tribute Orchestra conducted by Troy Quinn.

The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum of Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, TN, hosted the symposium War in the Mountains IV: Religion, Death, and Martyrdom in the Civil War, April 17-18 with Warren Greer, Michael Toomey, George Rable, Charles Hubbard, and Earl Hess.

The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, hosted the conference Causes Won and Lost: The End of the Civil War, on April 18.  It was the last signature conference of Virginia’s Civil War Sesquicentennial CommissionGary Gallagher and Elizabeth Varon served as lead scholars.   Among the participants were Joan Waugh, Thavolia Glymph, Elizabeth Leonard, Harold Holzer, and Ed Ayers.

The Dock Street Theater, Charleston, SC, presented “A Just and Lasting Peace Among Ourselves?”: Lessons on the 150th Anniversary of the End of the American Civil War” on April 18 with: “The Civil War Amendments and the American Declaration of Independence” by Annette Gordon-Reed; “The Significance of Reconstruction” by Eric Foner; “A Later Encounter With the Enemy: The Confederate Experience at 150” by Emory Thomas; “The Endings of the Civil War and Their Legacies in our Own Time” by David W. Blight; “Hidden Genealogies of Confederate Memory” by Thomas J. Brown; and “Setting Slavery in Stone: What the Calhoun and Vesey Monuments Tell Us About Civil War Memory” by Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle.

On April 23, Wayne C. Temple spoke about “The Fight for Lincoln’s Burial Site” at the University of Illinois, Springfield.

Springfield (Ohio) Civil War Round Table, under the leadership of Dr. Ski Schanher, held its annual symposium on April 25 with Frank J. Williams presenting “Judging Lincoln as a Judge” and “Lincoln the Lawyer” by Brian Dirck.

The Military Order of the Loyal Legion hosted the solemn processional on April 26 in Cleveland, OH, to memorialize the original funeral procession for President Abraham Lincoln.  An ecumenical service followed at the Old Stone Church Sanctuary with “Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War at 150” presented by Frank J. Williams.

The Columbus (OH) Bar Association hosted a Lincoln colloquium on April 27 with Frank J. Williams presenting “Attorney Abraham Lincoln: The Prelude to Attorney-in-Chief” and “Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties.” Michael S. Benedict discussed “Lincoln and Constitutional Politics” and Sharon Davies discussed “Lincoln and Race.”

“Lincoln: ‘Ohio has Saved the Nation’” was presented on May 3 by Phil Stichter at the Kelton House, Columbus, OH.

The Lincoln Club of Topeka presented “General Grant & General Lee” on May 5.

Steven Wilson and Michelle Ganz of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum explored East Tennessee in the Civil War in three classes for the Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning in Oak Ridge, TN, on June 11, 18, and 25.

Martin H. Quitt, author of Stephen A. Douglas an Antebellum Democracy, presented new views on Douglass at the June 13 meeting of The Stephen A. Douglas Association in Chicago.

The 2015 Ian and Mimi Rolland Lecture at the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN, featured David Reynolds discussing “Killing John Brown, Killing Lincoln: Secrets of the Assassination.”  Edna Greene Medford presented “When Freedom Came: Emancipation and the Question of Timing” on June 19 and Harold Holzer will deliver the Annual R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture in September 2015.

International Legacy

Beth Kissileff’s “Jews counted among Lincoln’s closest confidants” appeared in the March 27 issue of The Times of Israel.

Jamie Malanowski’s “Beyond Gettysburg: From NYC to France to Brazil” was featured in the April Smithsonian.

Matt Ford’s “How the World Mourned Lincoln” appeared at

Jonathan W. White’s “The Legacies of Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela” was in The (Macon, GA.P) Telegraph on April 17.

Julie H. Davis and Michael R. Gordon’s “U.S. and Japan Tighten Military” in the April 28 issue of the New York Times mentioned President Obama and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan unscheduled visit at the Lincoln Memorial with a photo of them.  Photos of the visit also appeared in the April 29 Wall Street Journal, and the April 28 Washington Post.

The (Shreveport, La.) Times on March 18 ran a brief story of Chaitali Chatterjee’s painting “The Reflective Pool,” recently acquired by the International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport.

Al Kamen and Colby Itkowitz’s “A Timely Opening of the 1865 Files” appeared in the April 21 issue of the Washington Post exploring the U.S. State Department’s release of a digitized “Appendix to Diplomatic Correspondence of 1865.”

Jim Martin’s “The Final shot in the Civil War” appeared in the April 25 Economist mentioned November 6, 1865 Confederate surrender of the CSS Shenandoah.

Shirley J. Portwood reviewed Jeffrey R. Keer-Ritchie’s, Freedom’s Seekers: Essays on Comparative Emancipation (LSU, 2013) in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Fall/Winter 2014), and Gale L. Kenny reviewed it in the Journal of American History (March 2015).

Graham Peck reviewed Robert E. May’s Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America (Cambridge University Press) in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (Fall/Winter 2014).  It was reviewed by John M. Belohlav in the Journal of the Civil War Era (March 2015).

Brian K. Fennessy reviewed David T. Gleeson’s The Green and the Gray: The Irish in the Confederate States of America (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) in Civil War History (March 2015).

Brent Morris reviewed Matthew P. Guterl’s American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation (Harvard University Press, 2013) in Civil War History (March 2015).

Carl J. Guarneri reviewed Enrico Dal Lago’s William Lloyd Garrison and Giuseppe Mazzini: Abolition, Democracy, and Radical Reform  (LSU Press, 2013) in The Journal of the Civil War Era (March 2015), and by Craig B. Hollander in the Journal of Southern History (May 2015).

Enrico Dal Lago reviewed Paul D. Escott’s Uncommonly Savage: Civil War and Remembrance in Spain and the United States (University Press of Florida, 2014) in the Journal of American History (March 2015), and by Robert Cook in the American Historical Review (April 2015).

Walter Russell Mead reviewed James M. McPherson’s The War that Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters (Oxford University Press) and Don H. Doyle’s The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War (Basic Books, 2014) in Foreign Affairs (May/June 2015).

The new website for the International Lincoln Association which works closely with the International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport and the Louisiana Lincoln Group, as well as the Association of Third World Studies is

William D. Pederson, International Lincoln Center, LSU Shreveport, will present, “Lincoln’s International Legacy: Lincoln without Borders” at the opening of the 30th annual Lincoln Colloquium, “The Better Angels of Our Nature: The Influential Legacy and Character of Abraham Lincoln” at the Lincoln Heritage Museum, Lincoln, IL on October 2 & 3.  Other speakers include: Douglas Wilson, John Barr, Guy Fraker, Fritz Klein, James Cornelius, Sarah Watson, Sara Gabbard, Anne E. Moseley, and Ron Keller.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation with Lions Press has published Gettysburg Replies: The World Responds to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

Arts & Entertainment

On March 30, the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University announced a purchase of one of the largest private collections of 19th century American photography devoted primarily to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.  It was obtained from the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation.  With more than 73,000 items, including 57,000 prints, as well as thousands of books, pamphlets, maps, and theater broadsides, it is one of the largest holdings of images of Lincoln.  Among the highlights is a large-format albumen portrait of Abraham Lincoln taken in 1863 by Alexander Gardner.

HBO aired the documentary Living With Lincoln on April 13 with Kunhardt Productions as producer featured many of these images.

The Illinois State Society of Washington, DC, has published the Illinois Heritage Map of Illinois-related sites in Washington, DC. (

On May 8, the National Defense University at Ft. Leslie J. McNair in Washington, partnering with the Confederation of Union Generals, hosted a sesquicentennial re-creation of the Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators on June 20 at Grant Hall, Ft. McNair, in the very room where the original military trial took place 150 years ago.

PBS announced a new Civil War historical drama that will be presented during the 2016 winter season.  The working title is Mercy Street.  There will be six episodes based on true stories from 1862.  It will follow two volunteer nurses on opposite sides of the war.

The U.S. Postal Service unveiled the last two stamps in its series commemorating the Civil War’s 150th anniversary at Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park.  The new stamps, issued April 9, commemorate the 1865 battle at Five Forks and the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse.

The Library of Congress has acquired 540 Civil War stereographs from the Robin G. Stanford Collection.  These include images of President Lincoln’s funeral procession through several cities.  Seventy-seven of the images are online and can be viewed at the Library’s Prints and Photographs Online Catalog E. Ruane wrote about the collection in “Rare Glimpse of the Civil War Era” for the March 29 Washington Post.

The Lonesome Train composed by Earl Robinson was performed by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Alastair Willis, Music Director, in Bloomington on May 1 and in Springfield on May 2.  Frank J. Williams served as Narrator with the ISO Festival ChorusDale Rogers was Choral Director.

Springfield (IL) Theatre Centre presented Our American Cousin – the play Lincoln attended on the night of April 14, 1865 – on April 17, 18 & 19.

Michael E. Ruane discussed artist Carl Bersch’s painting Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands and how it depicts the chaos as Lincoln is carried across 10th Street, illuminated only by torchlight and gaslight after the shooting.  The article appeared in the April 13 Washington Post.


The Shapell Manuscript Foundation has placed many of its treasures on view in the exhibition With Firmness in the Right: Lincoln and the Jews, at the New-York Historical Society beginning March 19, and travels to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum beginning April 2.

The West Point Museum concluded its commemorative exhibitions for the Civil War Sesquicentennial with the exhibit Appomattox which will run through April 2016.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Chicago History Museum hosted the exhibit Undying Words: Lincoln, 1858-1865 at the Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL.  Olivia Mahoney and James Cornelius are the authors of the catalog of the exhibit.

The Indiana State Museum marked the sesquicentennial of the end of the Civil War and Lincoln’s death with its exhibition of 120 artifacts and documents, “So Costly a Sacrifice: Lincoln and Loss,” from February 7 through July 5, 2015.

The Newseum in Washington mounted the first-ever display of all seven New York Herald special editions from April 15, 1865 covering the assassination of President Lincoln: President Lincoln is Dead: The New York Herald Reports the Assassination.

Ford’s Theatre in Washington commemorated the assassination sesquicentennial with the show Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War; an Abraham Lincoln symposium on March 21; and the exhibition Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Association.  On April 14-15 Ford’s Theatre held an around-the-clock event, The Lincoln Tribute, preceded by a live on-stage production featuring Judy Collins, Julian Bond, Gen. Colin Powell, Harold Holzer and others.

The White House Historical Association hosted the exhibition Life in the Lincoln White House from March 13 – April 14.

Portions of Phil Stichter’s Abraham Lincoln Collection were on exhibit at the CLE of the Columbus (OH) Bar Association Lincoln Symposium on April 27.

Answering the Call: Service & Charity in the Civil War was opened at the Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, CT.  The exhibition runs through September 20.  Presentations included: April 25, “Tunes & Tales from the American Civil War Period” by Tom Callinan; May 23, “To Bind Up Their Wounds: Catholic Nuns in the Civil War,” by Sister of Mercy Dolores Liptak; June 20, “Civil War Naval Campaigns: History, Strategy & Myth” by Geoffrey McLean; July 18, “A Match Not Made in Heaven, and Other Causes of the Civil War” by George Burke; August 22, “Strong in Their Patriotic Devotion: Connecticut’s Irish in the Civil War” by Neil Hogan; and, September 19, “New Haven’s Civil War Hospital” by Dr. Ira Spar.

“His Wound is Mortal: The Final Hours of President Abraham Lincoln” was on exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Silver Spring, MD.  The exhibit included the bullet recovered from Lincoln’s skull, shards of his skull, and locks of his hair, along with a surgical kit that was used to perform the autopsy on him the day he died.

The Lincoln at Cleveland 2015 exhibit hosted by the Cleveland Public Library ran through May 30, 2015.

The National Civil War Museum presented Ephraim Slaughter, on May 27, 2015, featuring a life-size figure of the African-American soldier who served in the 37th United States Colored Troops.

Awards and Prizes

The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize was awarded to Harold Holzer on April 23 for his Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion and the Civil War Round Table of New York celebrated its 64th year by presenting its Barondess/Lincoln Award to him.  Holzer’s book also won the annual Mark Lynton Prize from the Columbia School of Journalism.

Zach Cherian, a junior at Crystal Springs Uplands School in Hillsborough, won $100 and an honorable mention in the Gilder Lehrman Civil War Essay Competition.  His essay, “The Role of the Civil War in the Expansion of the American Healthcare System” will be published on the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History website,

Illinois State Archives Chief Deputy Director, Wayne C. Temple, received a 50-Year Service Award from the Illinois Secretary of State.


Jeff Prince discussed Donald Dow’s collections in “A History of Violence: From Abe Lincoln to John Wesley Hardin’s Shot-up Playing Card,” Ft. Worth (TX) Weekly, February 11-17.


The Papers of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Daniel Stowell, partnered with Iron Mountain, an international storage and information services company, to provide financial and in-kind contributions to the long term project.  The partnership allowed the Papers to hire a new researcher at the National Archives in Washington to join two already working on the scene searching for and scanning hitherto unknown Lincoln documents.

Books and Pamphlets

William C. Kashatus is the author of Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and the Civil War (Praeger).

Your Friend, As Ever, A. Lincoln: How the Unlikely Friendship of Gustav Koerner and Abraham Lincoln Changed America by Donald Allendorf, and Rekilling Lincoln by Walter Donald Kennedy, have been published by Pelican.

The Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin published its 68th bulletin on April 12, Lincoln the Man and the Myth: A Question of Character by Thomas L. Carson.

The January Library Journal listed those Lincoln volumes which reflect the scholarly and popular preoccupations with Lincoln’s view on slavery and race, his move toward emancipation, and the persistent search for his place in myth and memory.  Randall M. Miller assembled them in “Lincoln, 150 Years On.”  The titles are:  The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows by Gabor Boritt (Simon & Schuster); Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War by Todd Brewster (Scribner); Abraham  Lincoln and White America by Brian R. Dirck (University Press of Kansas); Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election That Brought on the Civil War by Douglas R. Egerton (Bloomsbury); “What Shall We Do with the Negro?”: Lincoln, White Racism, and Civil War America by Paul D. Escott (University of Virginia); The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner (Norton); Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster); Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America by Allen C. Guelzo (Simon & Schuster); Lincoln’s Rise to the Presidency by William C. Harris (University Press of Kansas); Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory by Harold Holzer (Harvard University); Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion by Harold Holzer (Simon & Schuster); Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 by Harold Holzer (Simon & Schuster); Writing the Gettysburg Address by Martin P.  Johnson (University Press of Kansas); Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer by Fred Kaplan (HarperCollins); Lincoln Lessons: Reflections on America’s Greatest Leader by William D. Pederson & Frank J. Williams (Southern Illinois University); The Lincoln-Douglas Debates by Rodney O. Davis & Douglas L. Wilson (University of Illinois); Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief by James M. McPherson (Penguin); Mr. Lincoln Goes to War by William Marvel (Houghton Harcourt); Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War of the Union by Louis P. Masur (Balknap: Harvard University); Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War by Mark E. Neely, Jr. (University of North Carolina); Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World by Eric Foner (Norton); Lincoln in the World: The Making of a Statesman and the Dawn of American Power by Kevin Peraino (Crown); Lincoln’s War: The Untold Story of America’s greatest President as Commander in Chief by Geoffrey Perret (Random); Abraham Lincoln in the Post-Heroic Era: History and Memory in Late Twentieth-Century America by Barry Schwartz (University of Chicago); Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops by John David Smith (Southern Illinois University); Giants: The Parallel Lives of Fredrick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln by John Stauffer (Twelve); The Eloquent President: A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words by Ronald C. White, Jr. (Random); and Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words by Douglas L. Wilson (Knopf).

Oxford University Press published Louis P. Masur’s Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction and the Crisis of Reunion.

Jonathan W. White edited Lincoln on Law, Leadership and Life for Source Books.

Decapitating the Union: Jefferson Davis, Judah Benjamin and the Plot to Assassinate Lincoln, authored by John C. Fazio, has been published by McFarland.

Trudy Krisher is the author of Fanny Seward: A Life published by Syracuse University Press.

Thomas Dunne Books has published Lincoln and the Jews: A History by Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell.

1865: America Makes War and Peace in Lincoln’s Final Year has been edited by Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard (Southern Illinois University Press).  Contributors include:  Michael Vorenberg (“The Thirteenth Amendment”); John F. Marszalek and Michael B. Ballard (“Grant and Lincoln: Partnership for Victory”); Richard Striner (“Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Conference”); Ronald C. White, Jr. (“Abraham Lincoln’s Sermon on the Mount: The Second Inaugural”); Richard Wightman Fox (“Lincoln’s Greatest Escapade: Walking through Richmond on April 4, 1865”); Edward Steers, Jr. (“Why Was Lincoln Murdered?”); Frank J. Williams (“Military Justice, Right or Wrong: Judging the Lincoln Conspirators”); Edna Greene Medford (“Allies or Adversaries? Lincoln, Douglass, and Black Suffrage”); and Harold Holzer (“From Living Hero to Martyred Icon: The Evolution of the Lincoln Image in 1865”).

Civil War Sesquicentennial and Related Books

Perry D. Jamieson wrote Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War for the University of Nebraska Press.

Mark Q. Rhoades, former president of the Illinois State Society in Washington, DC, is the author of Land of Lincoln: Thy Wondrous Story (Jameson Books, Ottawa, IL).

William Marvel is the author of Lincoln’s Autocrat: The Life of Edwin Stanton (University of North Carolina Press).


Lincoln Lore, edited by Sara Gabbard, for Spring 2015, featured Gabbard interviews with Edna Greene Medford and Frank J. Williams.  Gabbard also interviewed Fort Wayne middle school teacher Sally Benjamin Butler on “Teaching Lincoln and the Civil War.”

The Spring Civil War Monitor was a special issue, “The War is Over” including Martha Hodes’s “Sic Semper Tyrannis!,” as well as a portrait of an assassination.  Hodes contributed “Death of a President” to the March/April Humanities.

Adam Goodheart wrote “Lincoln: Looking for his Legacy Today” for the April National Geographic.

“War’s End,” published by The Washington Post in its series Civil War 150 on March 29, included pieces by Harold Holzer, Waite Rawls, and Jim CampiJoel Achenbach wrote “‘Abraham Lincoln died this Morning at Twenty Two Minutes after Seven O’clock.’” And DeNeen L. Brown contributed “The Towns Built by Ex-Slaves.”

“Liberty, Freedom and Jerusalem: Lincoln’s 150th Yahrtzeit” by Alan J. Gerber was in the March 31 Jewish Star.

Lenny Picker wrote “Abraham Lincoln’s Greatest Gift to the Jews: How the Great Emancipator Fought the Notion of ‘Christian America’” for the April 5 Jewish Daily Forward.

“The Civil War Isn’t Over” by David W. Blight was in the April 8 Atlantic.

Thomas A. Bogar wrote “Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination” for the April Maryland Line.

For kids, The Washington Post featured “Reunited Nation Loses Its Leader” by Marylou Tousignant on April 8.

Jamie Stiehm wrote What It Means to be American which includes “Where Lincoln was President and Conqueror.”  Stiehm discusses Lincoln’s visit to Richmond, VA after the confederacy’s fall, a National Conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square on April 10.

Adam Geller wrote “‘Lincoln Never Dies’ – Finding his Resonance 150 Years Later.”  It was published in The Westerly Sun on April 12, 2015.

Malcolm Jones wrote “The Mystery of Lincoln’s Assassin” for the April 15 Daily Beast.

James M. Cornelius wrote “A Fiendish Assassination: Lincoln’s Death and Funeral” for the 2015 issue of Four Score and Seven – published by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

Jonathan W. White wrote “A Terrible Loss” for the Spring American Scholar.

On April 12, the Chicago Tribune’s “Perspective” featured a facsimile of Lincoln’s letter of June 15, 1859 accompanying his check for a one-year subscription to the Chicago Tribune, then The Press & Tribune.  On April 14 it featured Patrick T. Reardon’s “Lincoln’s Violent Death and His Legacy.”

“Chicago Flashback” for the April 5 Chicago Tribune featured news coverage of April 4 & 5, 1985 with commentary by Stephen Benzkofer, “The Civil War Ends.”

Cathy Rainone wrote “Not an Easy Sell: How the Lincoln Memorial Came About” for the April 15, 4 NBC Washington.


Terry Alford, Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth, rev. by Harold Holzer, Wall Street Journal (March 28-29, 2015); rev. by Ingrid Levin, Library Journal (April 1, 2015).

James B. Conroy, Our Common Country: Abraham Lincoln and The Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865, rev. by Kristopher Allen, Civil War History (March 2015).

William C. Davis, Crucible of Command, rev. by Russell S. Bonds, Wall Street Journal (March 7-8, 2015).

Lincoln’s Pivotal Year, edited by Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, rev. by Daniel Elkin, Civil War History, (March 2015).

Harold Holzer, Lincoln and the Power of the Press, rev. by Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs (March-April 2015); rev. by J.J. Feinauer, Deseret News (April 12, 2015).

Harold Holzer, editor, President Lincoln Assassinated!!  The Firsthand Story of the Murder, Manhunt, Trial and Mourning, rev. by Kasey S. Pipes, The Dallas Morning News (April 15, 2015).

Harold Holzer, Craig Symonds, and Frank J. Williams, editors, Exploring Lincoln: Great Historians Reappraise Our Greatest President, rev. by Vick Mickunas, Dayton Daily News (April 12, 2015).

Perry D. Jamieson, Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War, rev. by John Carver Edwards, Library Journal (March 1, 2015).

W.C. Jameson, John Wilkes Booth: Beyond the Grave, rev. by Michael B. Ballard, Civil War News (May 2015).

Martin P. Johnson, Writing the Gettysburg Address, rev. by John Barr, The Journal of Southern History (May 2015).

David C. Keehn, Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War, rev. by Adam Koeth, Civil War History, (March 2015).

Lawrence A. Kreiser, Jr. and Randal Allred, The Civil War in Popular Culture: Memory and Meaning, rev. by Karen L. Cox, The Journal of Southern History (May 2015).

Richard Lowry, The Photographer and the President: Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Gardner, and the Images That Made a Presidency, rev. by Michael Rodriguez, Library Journal (March 15, 2015).

John F. Marselek, Lincoln and the Military, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (May 4, 2015).

Scott Martelle, The Madman and the Assassin: The Strange Life of Boston Corbett, the Man Who Killed John Wilkes Booth, rev. by Michael O. Eshleman, Library Journal (March 1, 2015); rev. by Brian Matthew Jordan, Civil War News (May 2015).

William Marvel, Lincoln’s Autocrat: The Life of Edwin Stanton, rev. by Charles K. Piehl, Library Journal (February 15, 2015); rev. by Harold Holzer, Wall Street Journal (June 8, 2015).

Brian McGinty, Lincoln’s Greatest Case, rev. by Margaret A. Little, Wall Street Journal (February 23, 2015).

Lincoln And Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages, edited by Lucas Morel, rev. by Sean A. Scott, Civil War News (May 2015).

James M. McPherson, The War that Forged a Nation, rev. by Richard Snow, Wall Street Journal (March 9, 2015), Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief, rev. by Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs (March-April 2015).

Jared Peatman, The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, rev. by John M. Barr, The Journal of Southern History (May 2015).

Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell, Lincoln and the Jews: A History, rev. by Stuart Shiffman, Illinois Times (March 25-April 1, 2015).

Michael Schein, John Surratt: The Lincoln Assassin Who got Away, rev. by Jeanette McVeigh, Library Journal (March 1, 2015).

Elizabeth R. Varon, Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War, rev. by Jason Phillips, The Journal of Southern History (May 2015).

John C. Waugh, Lincoln and the War’s End, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (May 4, 2015); rev. by Thomas A. Horrocks, Civil War News (April 2015).

Richard Wightman Fox, Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History, rev. by Allen Guelzo, Civil War News (April 2015); rev. by Kasey S. Pipes, The Dallas Morning News (April 15, 2015).

Frank Wildhorn, Freedom’s Song: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, rev. by Jane Horwitz, for the theater section of The Washington Post (March 21, 2015).


Peter Kunhardt and his son Teddy, who narrate HBO’s Living With Lincoln, a documentary about the multi-generational Meserve family’s longtime interest with American photography and Abraham Lincoln, were the subject of Ralph Gardner, Jr.’s “A Family’s Obsession With Lincoln” in the April 8 Wall Street Journal.

Lincoln and Political Culture

Scott Shane wrote (“Awash in Information, Historians Fear Loss of Rich Material”) for the March 13 New York Times.  In the midst of the kerfuffle about the destruction of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s emails on personal matters during her tenure as Secretary of State, it was painful for historians and biographers as they imagined that they or their successors in future years would have had access for this source material.  Biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin grieved the loss as preventing a future portrait of government officials.  But Shane points out that some historians are overlooking the hundreds of hours of video and audio recordings of public figures, like Mrs. Clinton.  In fact, some archivers bemoan the overwhelming volume of material this era will bequeath for future use.

Former U.S. Representative Paul Findley’s op-ed piece, “National Park Service at Presidential Museum?” appeared in the State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL) on February 12.  The author, saddened at the management dispute raging at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library, suggested that the Illinois governor and other leaders consider placing the library and museum in the National Park Service.

In a related article James Krohe, Jr. wrote “A Cautionary Tale – the Lessons of Illinois’ Historic Sites History” for the Illinois Times (January 22-28).  Krohe gave a history of the restoration of the Old State Capitol in Springfield and how the cost grew to four times the initial estimate.  Although the building opened in 1969 to great fanfare,  it remains the least visited of all major Lincoln sites in downtown Springfield.  Krohe noted that “190,000 fewer people bothered to drop by in 2014 than toured nearby Abe World,” adding: “The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, then, was not the first project of its kind to prove that the state of Illinois is better at building things than at managing them.”

Thomas Stewart wrote “Little-known speech launched Lincoln presidency” for the Eugene, OR, Register-Guard on February 12.  While the Cooper Union speech was the “longest, most loyally and least poetic of all Lincoln’s great speeches,” without it, “Lincoln might never have become president.”

Mike Luckovich’s cartoon on February 18 for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” has Lincoln in his Memorial with tears.  Looking on are citizens with placards that say “No Climate Change Action!,” “More Government Shut Downs,” “Suppress the Vote,” “No Immigration Reform,” “No Compromise,”… .

Harold Holzer discussed Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address in “Multiple Threads to bind up a Divided Nation” for the “Masterpiece” feature in the February 28-March 1 Wall Street Journal.  Holzer opines that inaugural constituted three speeches in one, to explore guilt and redemption.

The March 16 cartoon in the New Yorker “Tactless Abe” has the president whining: “Jim, you should use mouthwash,” “Florence, that hat makes you look like the village idiot,” and “Luther, lay off the sweets.”

Darryl Levings wrote “Stack of Books about Lincoln Keeps Growing 150 Years after His Assassination” for the March 28 Kansas City Star.  “…The stack of books still climbs like a Sherpa high on life.”

The April 7 New York Times Op-Ed section featured David Brooks’s “What Candidates Need.”  Brooks begins each presidential campaign by reading a book about Abraham Lincoln as it helps him determine what one should be considering when looking for a presidential candidate.  Lincoln had all of the “rudiments” including “…a fundamental vision, a golden temperament, and a shrewd strategy for how to cope with the political realities of the moment.  This year, Lincoln’s strategic restraint is the most necessary of his traits. We live in a partisan time, with movements who treat trimmers, compromisers, and incrementalists harshly. But, to pass legislation, the next president will have to perpetually disappoint the fervent and devise a legislative strategy that can consistently get a House majority and 60 Senate votes.   We will not get a Lincoln.  A person with his face could not survive the TV age.  …But we do need someone with a portion of his gifts – someone who is philosophically grounded, emotionally mature and tactically cunning.  Well, at least we can find the closest possible approximation.”

James L. Swanson and Michael F. Bishop wrote “A President who Lived and Died for Liberty” for the April 14 Wall Street Journal.  To them, Lincoln’s assassination 150 years ago still offers invaluable lessons about the importance of leadership.  “As we mourn him on the anniversary of his death, we must do more than yearn for great leaders like Lincoln.  We must cultivate and elect them.”

Also in the same issue of The Wall Street Journal was William McGurn’s “Progressives try to Steal Lincoln.”  To him, “Old Abe’s belief in an aspirational society” echoes through today’s Republican Party.  Lincoln, … “was a corporate lawyer who rose from poverty through hard work and ambition – and wanted an America where everyone had the chance to do the same.  If America’s progressives wish to embrace this Lincoln legacy, more power to them.”

Peter Baker wrote about “The One President All of Them Want To Be More Like” for the April 15 New York Times:  “Lincoln’s legacy still casts a tall shadow 150 years later for all who occupy the White House.  He remains an inspiration for presidents whether they’re Republican or Democrat,” says Jay Winik.  “When they look at him, he almost defies explanation.  He sort of lives somewhere in the stratosphere.”

Edwin M. Burke wrote “A Fitting Time to Mark the Civil War’s End” for the April 8 Chicago Tribune noting that while “It is wholly fitting that as we mark the 150th anniversary of the cessation of hostilities…,” one can only ask whether or not Appomattox really did end the Civil War.  Unfortunately, he says, the answer is a resounding “no.”

Harold Meyerson wrote “Lincoln’s Party No More” for the April 9 Washington Post.  Meyerson believes that the Republican Party is “really the party of Jefferson Davis,” as it “…suppresses black voting; and opposes federal efforts to mitigate poverty; it objects to federal investment in infrastructure and education just as the antebellum South opposed internal improvements and rejected public education; it scorns compromise.  It is nearly all white.  It is the lineal descendant of Lee’s army, and the descendants of Grant’s have yet to subdue it.”

Harold Holzer’s Op-Ed “When Lincoln died, a nation mourned – or did it?” appeared in the L.A. Times on April 11.  “Shot on Good Friday, Lincoln was mourned in churches across the North on Easter Sunday as a Christ-like savior who died for his nation’s sins.”  But all this sorrow for Lincoln was not universal.  Even in the North, some Democrats were celebrating rather than mourning.  Radical Republicans believed that Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, was a “better man.”  But they were soon proved wrong, as “…Johnson (unlike Lincoln) harbored a ‘useful’ hatred for the Southern aristocracy, he possessed no benevolence at all for African Americans.  Johnson proved deeply racist – a horrendous choice for second spot on the 1864 Republic ticket – and by 1865 intractably opposed to civil and voting rights for ex-slaves.  For the next four years, Congress would wage a fierce struggle with Johnson over Reconstruction policies, a battle that led to his impeachment.”

Ed Steers’s “Abraham Lincoln’s larger legacy: 150 years after his assassination, he is an American icon for far more than having saved the Union and freed the slaves” appeared in the April 15 New York Daily News.  While many myths about Lincoln were “manufactured,” “It is a testament to Lincoln’s greatness that he has more myths associated with him than any other figure in our nation’s history.  Every poll conducted by historians places Lincoln first and while most people know that Lincoln saved the Union and sought final freedom for slaves, few know that he established Land Grant colleges with 71 universities in all 50 states having a distinction of being Land grant colleges.  Lincoln also sought passage of the Homestead Act creating one-and-a-half million small family farms with 13 new states formed as a result of this act.”

William Pederson in “Lincoln’s Legacy After 150 Years,” which he wrote for the April 19 Shreveport Times, points out appropriately how Lincoln was deified immediately following his assassination on Good Friday and every pulpit in the land (except a few in the South) transformed Lincoln into sainthood.  It took a half century to restore Lincoln’s human qualities.  Pederson points out that Lincoln’s definition of a democratic government delivered at Gettysburg became part of the Constitutions of many other countries around the world.  His international influence is astounding.  In 1911, President Sun Yat-sen took Lincoln’s “…Of the People, By the People and for the People” as the “three principles of government” in China.

James Krohe, Jr. was flummoxed in his column “An Overdue Policy on the Library” which appeared in the February 26-March 4 Illinois Times.  Should the Illinois State Historical Society, a non-profit group cut loose by the state in 1997, be put in charge of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum or should the state library’s Lincoln artifacts be made available on loan to the museum while its Lincoln documents and non-Lincoln holdings remain in the library of state-wide history independent of the museum?  Krohe opines that, in the end, the state of Illinois “will never do a job of running the library because it can’t itself do a good job of running anything.”  But would the library of the University of Illinois take charge and do a good job?  That is the only thing that had not been tried yet, Krohe says.


A replica of the train car that carried the bodies of Abraham Lincoln and his son, Willie, to Springfield in April 1865 was constructed in Elgin, Illinois Industrial Park.  It was a key part of the Lincoln funeral re-enactment scheduled for the first weekend in May.

Library of America published President Lincoln Assassinated!! The Firsthand Story of the Murder, Manhunt, Trial, and Mourning was compiled and introduced by Harold Holzer.

Bill Thomas retraced the trail of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd to Key West, FL, where he was incarcerated in the March 22 Washington Post Magazine.

The Washington Post’s “Weekend” section on April 10 featured a pullout section listing all of the local activities commemorating the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

On April 14, the New York Post published assassination coverage printed 150 years earlier when it was The Evening Post.

Terry Alford, author of his biography of John Wilkes Booth, Fortune’s Fool, was profiled by Jennifer Schuessler, in “Asking Those Who Know Lincoln’s Assassin Best,” for the April 14 New York Times.  Also commenting were: Harold Holzer; Laurie Verge, Director of the Surratt House Museum; Martha Hodes, author of Mourning Lincoln; Thomas Bogar, author of Back Stage at the Lincoln Assassination; and Dave Taylor, creator of the website BoothieBarn.

For the People – a newsletter of The Abraham Lincoln Association featured Frederick Douglass’s “A Psalm to our Martyred President Abraham Lincoln on June 1, 1865.”

Gregg Clemmer led a tour of Booth’s escape route on April 26.

Ralph Nurnberger presented a four-session course on murdered presidents for the Smithsonian on April 20 (Abraham Lincoln), April 27 (James Garfield), May 4 (William McKinley), and May 11 (John F. Kennedy).  He titled his course Four Presidents: A Legacy of Assassination.

The Loyal Legion Historical Journal featured the death of Abraham Lincoln in its spring issue.

Lawrence Abel is the author of A Finger in Lincoln’s Brain: What Modern Science Reveals about Lincoln, His Assassination, and its Aftermath, (Praeger).

Scott Martell is the author of The Madman and the Assassin: The Strange Life of Boston Corbitt, The Man who Killed John Wilkes Booth (Chicago Review Press).

Terry Alford discussed his personal choices of five books relating to the Lincoln assassination in The Wall Street Journal for April 18-19.  ouJoura

His list: 1. Why was Lincoln Murdered? by Otto Eisenschiml; 2.  The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies by William Hanchett; 3.  Blood on the Moon by Edward Steers, Jr.; 4.  American Brutus by Michael Kauffman and; 5.  Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination by Thomas A. Bogar.

Albany, NY, marked the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination with special events, including a parade by Civil War re-enactors on April 25 followed by a memorial service in West Capitol Park.  Lincoln interpreter Fritz Klein portrayed Lincoln in two performances.  The Capitol’s second-floor East Gallery featured an exhibit on the Albany funeral for Lincoln.  Pride of place as it was held by the flag that draped the slain president’s coffin, recently restored with the help of a grant from the Lincoln Presidential Bicentennial Foundation.  The Albany commemoration was part of Abraham Lincoln’s Journey Home, a two-week rolling program by the National Park Service that traveled from Washington, DC to Springfield, IL, between April 18 and May 3.

As part of the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s funeral and burial in Springfield, the National Park Service hosted twenty-three Lincoln’s Journey Home ceremonies in each of the major cities from Washington to Springfield where funerals were held in 1865.  The first was held on April 18 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, the church attended by Abraham and Mary Lincoln.  The final ceremony was on May 3 at the Old State Capitol in Springfield.


Author John Evangelist Walsh died on March 19 at the age of 87.  Among his works are The Shadows Rise: Abraham Lincoln and the Ann Rutledge Legend and Moonlight: Abraham Lincoln and the Almanac Trial.

Author’s Note

I want to thank Florence J. Baur, 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, Joseph Fornieri, Robert F. Henderson, 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, 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, Mike Gross 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