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The Spoken Word and Group Activities

The 60th Annual Lincoln Tomb Ceremony organized by the Death Day Association, Inc., with participation by veteran organizations, commemorated the 151st anniversary of the passing of Abraham Lincoln on April 15.

Frank J. Williams presented “The Politics of 1864: Ulysses S. Grant, George B. McClellan, and Abraham Lincoln” at The U.S. Grant Symposium III at the Missouri Civil War Museum at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, on July 23.

The annual program of the Lincoln-Douglas Society commemorating the anniversary of the Freeport Lincoln-Douglas debate featured Tim Connors and George Buss portraying Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln on August 27.

On September 15, Smithsonian Associates hosted Jennifer Chiaverini, author of the novel Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth at the Ripley Center, Washington.

On September 20, Frank J. Williams presented “Abraham Lincoln: Indiana and the West” for the 2016 R. Gerald McMurtry Lecture to the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana and the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne.

On September 22, Lincoln Memorial University presented Dr. John Fea as a speaker in its Kincaid Lecture Series.  He spoke on “The Bible in the Age of Lincoln: The American Bible Society and the Origin of Christian America.”

Illinois State University (Normal) and the Abraham Lincoln Association hosted the conference “Ex Parte Milligan at 150: The Constitution and Military Commissions in American Wars on Terror” on September 22-24. Keynote speakers included: Michael Les Benedict, Louis Fisher, and Jonathan Hafetz. There were two plenary sessions, Lincoln, Civil Liberties and the Milligan Decision: Milligan and Gitmo and Milligan and Gitmo, with remarks from William Blair, Roger Billings, Christopher Phillips, Brooks Simpson, Stephen Towne, Jennifer Weber, and Jonathan White.

The Lincoln Group of Boston’s scheduled meeting on September 24 featured Paul Mellen on “Lincoln’s Death Watch.”

Martha Hodes presented “Mourning Lincoln” at the October 5 meeting of the Civil War Round Table of New York.

The 31st Annual Lincoln Colloquium was held at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, Lincoln City, IN, on October 7 & 8 with: “What is Public Memory?” featuring Ed Linenthal and Eric Sandweiss; “The Shifting Legacy of the Gettysburg Address: 1870-2014” presented by Barry Schwartz; and “Lincoln’s Body – A Cultural History” by Richard Wightman Fox.

Harold Holzer discussed “Lincoln and the Uncivil War on Immigration” at the New-York Historical Society on November 1. David W. Blight, Eric Foner, Edna Greene Medford, and Harold Holzer will discuss the legacy of Reconstruction at the Society on February 11, 2017. On February 10, 2017, Holzer and Medford will give introductory remarks at a screening of Steven Spielberg’s historical drama Lincoln.

Harold Holzer’s recent on-stage conversations with historians at his new headquarters, the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, have included: Sidney Blumenthal (on Lincoln), Sean Wilentz (on politicians and egalitarians), Candace Shy Hooper (on Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives), Jean Edward Smith (on George W. Bush), William Leuchtenberg (on American presidents), Douglas Brinkley (TR and FDR as environmentalists), Joseph Lelyveld (on FDR’s final year), and Geoffrey C. Ward (on Roosevelt the campaigner). The Roosevelt House’s new exhibition, See How They Ran! FDR Campaign Treasures from the New-York Historical Society (through November 30) includes introductory items from pre-FDR 19th-century White House races, including the 1860 poster, National Republican Chart, a Currier & Ives cartoon showing Lincoln, wearing Wide-Awake gear, storming the “castle” to victory; and the 1864 racist anti-Lincoln cartoon, Miscegenation.

International Legacy

Burrus M. Carnahan presented the Frank & Virginia Williams Annual Abraham Lincoln Lecture at Louisiana State University, Shreveport, on October 21, 2016: “Lincoln’s Long Shadow: The President and International Law.”

William D. Pederson’s “Lincoln Without Borders: The Great Emancipator Around the World” appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Lincoln Lore.

Samuel J. Rogal’s “Gone and Forgotten: Abraham Lincoln through the English Eyes of Tom Taylor and John Drinkwater” appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

Jason H. Silverman’s “A Different World. Abe Lincoln’s Hardscrabble Upbringing Taught Him to Value Immigration” appeared in the August 2016 issue of Civil War Times. His “Lincoln v. Trump on Immigration” was published by the American Immigration Council on August 2, and “How the Party of Lincoln Lost Its Way on Immigration,” on August 2 in the Charlotte Observer.

William D. Pederson’s “The Third World, Harold Isaacs, and Abraham Lincoln” appeared in the Fall 2015 Journal of Third World Studies.

Sam Roberts’s “The Man Who Put Faces on Mt. Rushmore: An Immigrant’s Contribution is Recognized 75 Years Later” appeared in the June 29 New York Times (for more details, see Arts & Entertainment).

“Biografia Corta de Abraham Lincoln” appeared in El Independient (Shreveport, La.) on June 6.

Vinicius Santos came up with a graphic depicting his affection for cats, motorcycles, and Lincoln,

Arts & Entertainment

The June 29 New York Times featured Luigi Del Bianco in “Honoring the Man Who Put Faces on Mount Rushmore.” The Italian sculptor arrived in the United States at age 17. As chief carver of Gutzon Borglum’s Mount Rushmore memorial, his contribution has been largely overlooked. Borglum wrote that, “He is worth any three men I could find in America, for this particular type of work. He is the only intelligent, efficient stone carver on the work who understands the language of the sculptor.” As chief carver, Del Bianco’s priority was refining the facial expressions on the presidents’ sixty-foot-high heads. He sculpted Lincoln’s eyes, highlighting the pupils with wedge-shaped granite stones to reflect the light.

Harold Holzer wrote, directed, produced, and moderated Lincoln Speaks at Chesterwood. It debuted on August 10 inside Daniel Chester French’s Stockbridge Studio alongside the sculptor’s six-foot-high plaster model of the seated figure of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial. The program included readings by actor Jayne Atkinson, Massachusetts State Representative William “Smitty” Pignatelli, and Dennis Krausnick, director of training at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. Folk icon Judy Collins was the surprise guest, reading from Lincoln’s second inaugural and leading the audience in an impromptu sing along of “This Land Is Your Land.”

A. Lincoln: A Pioneer Tale premiered at the Lincoln Amphitheatre, Lincoln City, IN, from July 7-16.

The October issue of Reader’s Digest featured “100 Funniest Quotes Ever” which included one of Abraham Lincoln saying, “If I were two-faced would I be wearing this one?”

Dayton, OH hosted a statue unveiling ceremony on September 17, 157 years after Abraham Lincoln’s appearance to deliver a speech from the steps of the city’s old courthouse in 1859. The Lincoln Society of Dayton raised more than $250,000 to commission a statue created by sculptor Mike Major. Harold Holzer delivered the address. He was interviewed by Meredith Moss for the Dayton Daily News on September 10.

Awards and Prizes

Doris Kearns Goodwin was awarded The Lincoln Leadership Prize from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation on May 13. The first historian to receive the prize, Goodwin commented: “For me, no privilege has been greater than the opportunity to spend 10 years of my life living with Abraham Lincoln as I researched and wrote ‘Team of Rivals.’ I came to know, understand, and admire Lincoln for his political genius and leadership along with his humanity, generosity of spirit, social conscience, and sense of humor.”

The Civil War Trust presented retired Civil War News editor and publisher Kay Jorgensen with the Edwin C. Bearss Lifetime Achievement Award at the Trust’s annual conference in Gettysburg.

John Marszalek, Executive Director of the Ulysses S. Grant Association Presidential Library, received a Distinguished Writing Award from the Army Historical Foundation for the book he edited, The Best Writings of Ulysses S. Grant, published by Southern Illinois University Press. A collection of Grant’s writings throughout his life, it is the first in the series on Grant to be published by SIU Press.


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Rail Splitter: A Journal for the Lincoln Collector, Heritage Auctions staged the massive sale, “Lincoln and his Times,” on September 17 in Dallas.


In an effort to get the legendary Delta Queen riverboat back afloat on the Mississippi, help was received on June 29 when the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee agreed to reinstate an exemption for the 89-year-old vessel. The Safety of Life at Sea Act, enacted in 1966, prevents overnight excursions on wooden vessels. The Delta Queen had long enjoyed an exemption, but it expired in 2008. The vessel is expected to move to the St. Louis area of Kimmswick, MO, later in 2016.

James Cornelius, Lincoln Curator of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, identified the original pencil art of the deceased president in his casket in New York City Hall. In 1952, 14-year-old Ronald Rietveld found an original photo of the scene.   Now we have the original pencil art of the same scene drawn about ten feet to the left of the photographer for Currier & Ives, the major print-seller in the nation. The color print was made from the engraver’s quick take on that pencil sketch. Measuring 24 by 16 inches, it is one-quarter larger than the printed engraving.

Marcia Davis wrote “In Petworth, history sits quietly on a hilltop” about the Lincoln Cottage on the grounds of the U.S. Armed Forces Retirement Home for the March 6 Washington Post Magazine.

After six years, the Abraham Bicentennial Foundation ended its work with a final round of funding to eight worthy projects. The projects, totaling $72,000, were approved by the Foundation at its final board meeting on February 1. The grants totaling $72,000 were followed by a well-attended community symposium in Miami on Lincoln and Immigration. Twenty-five thousand dollars was awarded to the Papers of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield; $10,000 to the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, IN, to support the Lincoln Bicentennial website which the library now hosts; and $5,000 to President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home in Washington. Ten thousand dollars was also awarded to Southern Illinois University Press in Carbondale for its “concise Lincoln” series; $5,000 to the Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, in conjunction with the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, to co-host a 2016 conference on Abraham Lincoln and the Germans; $1,000 to the Images of the Motherland project in Philadelphia to support a Black History Month community event; and $16,000 to the Newberry Library in Chicago to help fund the production of an NPR radio program dramatizing Civil War soldiers’ recollections of Abraham Lincoln.

A team at the University of Delaware has created the Colored Conventions project to explore the conferences of black political activists beginning in the 1830s. The project is intended to illuminate “the long history of black organizing,” said P. Gabrielle Foreman.

Elizabeth Zach wrote “Finding the Past, and Future, in the Sea” for the August 28 New York Times. The author discussed the Dry Tortugas National Park, the location of Fort Jefferson, which held Union prisoners during the Civil War, along with Dr. Samuel A. Mudd and three other men implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd was released by order of President Andrew Johnson for his assistance in containing a Yellow Fever outbreak in 1867 that killed 138 people.

Books and Pamphlets

Globe Pequot, a division of Rowman & Littlefield, has published Under Lincoln’s Hat, prepared by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. The book explores 100 rarely-seen items such as a page from Lincoln’s diary.

James B. Conroy is the author of Lincoln’s White House published by Rowman & Littlefield.

David Hirsh and Dan Van Haften have authored The Ultimate Guide to the Gettysburg Address (Savas Beatie).

Savas Beatie also has published Noah Andre Trudeau’s Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed the Presidency March 24-April 8, 1865.

Collateral Books

Bradley M. Gottfried is the author of The Maps of the Wilderness published by Savas Beatie.


The May Federal Lawyer included “The Law Practice from Abraham Lincoln to Now” by David Hirsch and Dan Van Haften.

Allen C. Guelzo wrote “The Redemption of Abraham Lincoln” for the summer Civil War Monitor. Publisher and lawyer Theodore P. Savas was also profiled in this issue.

On July 13, Harold Holzer wrote “Why Lincoln’s words still matter today” for the Charleston, SC, Post and Courier. Holzer wrote about the “return to New Hampshire” where a recasting of Standing Lincoln by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens was unveiled at Cornish.

On July 1, Harold Holzer wrote “‘The Strange Spell that Dwells in Dead Men’s Eyes’: The Civil War, by Brady” for History Now, The Journal of the Gilder Lehrman Institute.

Reg Ankrom’s “Lincoln’s Crisis of 1858: The Historic Debates with Stephen A. Douglas Almost Never Happened” appeared in the July-August Illinois Heritage.

The Illinois Times published its 2016/17 Capital City Visitor in which many Lincoln sites are profiled.

Michael E. Ruane’s “Mary Lincoln’s Demons Blamed on Vitamin Deficiency” appeared in the July 6 Washington Post. Ruane reports that her difficult disposition and physical ailments were just a lack of B-12. The theory, propounded by Dr. John G. Sotos, detailed his belief in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine. “A diagnosis of chronic multi- system pernicious anemia would clarify [her conduct] as First Lady and widow…,” he wrote.

“The death of the GOP: How Trump is tearing apart the party of Lincoln” appeared in the March 18 issue of The Week and “Extreme Makeover: Can Trump fulfill his vow to become more ‘presidential’?” appeared in the May 6 issue.  A cartoon depicted Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, sitting in Lincoln’s chair at the Lincoln Memorial wearing Lincoln’s beard.

The summer Lincoln Lore included: “Letters from Confederate Soldiers, Three Brothers and a Brother-In-Law” edited by Madelane Elston; an interview by Sara Gabbard with Allen C. Guelzo “Lincoln through the Lens of History;” “Re-imagining the Lincoln Assassination Call and not all Americans Mourned” by Harold Holzer; and William D. Pederson’s “Lincoln Without Borders: The Great Emancipator Around the World.”

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge, Michael L. Stern, wrote “What if Abraham Lincoln had lived to Practice Law Again?” for the Advocate (The Journal of Consumer Attorneys Association for Southern California).

The summer Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association included Samuel J. Rogal’s “Gone and Forgotten: Abraham Lincoln through the English Eyes of Tom Taylor and John Drinkwater,” Mark P. Bohlad’s “Harriett Monroe’s Abraham Lincoln,” and Joseph Fornieri’s “Harry V. Jaffa’s Contribution to Lincoln Studies and American Statesmanship.”

Robert O. Faith wrote “Public Necessity or Military Convenience? Reevaluating Lincoln’s Suspensions of the Writ Habeas Corpus during the Civil War” for the September Civil War History. Jonathan W. White’sA Civil War Hermaphrodite” also appeared in this issue.  He discusses a letter of one of the detainees arrested during the Civil War.


Sydney Blumenthal, A Self-Made Man: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1879, rev. by Thomas A. Horrocks, Civil War News (July 2016); rev. by Randall M. Miller, Library Journal (April 1, 2016).

Daniel W. Croft, Lincoln and the Politics of Slavery: The Other Thirteenth Amendment and the Struggle to Save the Union, rev. by Allen C. Guelzo, Civil War News (August 2016); rev. by Randall M. Miller, Library Journal (April 1, 2016).

Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur, editors, The World the Civil War Made, rev. by Douglas R. Egerton, Journal of the Civil War Era (September 2016).

William E. and Erica L. Gienapp, editors, The Civil War Diaries of Gideon Welles, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy: The Original Manuscript Edition, rev. by John Beeler, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2016).

Harold Holzer and Thomas A. Horrocks, editors, The Annotated Lincoln, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (Summer 2016).

Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, editors, 1863: Lincoln’s Pivotal Year, rev. by Ryan W. Keating, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2016).

Harold Holzer, Craig L. Symonds & Frank J. Williams, editors, Exploring Lincoln: Great Historians Reappraise our Greatest President, rev. by Phillip W. Magness, The Journal of Southern History (August 2016); rev. by Edward R. Crowther, Civil War History (September 2016).

Alan Manning, Father Lincoln, rev. by Harold Holzer, The Wall Street Journal (July 23-24, 2016); rev. by Randall M. Miller, Library Journal (April 1, 2016).

Louis P. Masur, Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction and the Crisis of Reunion, rev. by John McKee Barr, The Journal of the Civil War (September 2016).

James M. McPherson, The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters, rev. by Jay Matthew Gallman, Civil War History (September 2016).

Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell, Lincoln and the Jews: A History, rev. by Mark A. Nolls, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2016).

Elaine Showalter, The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe, rev. by Benjamin Soskis, The Wall Street Journal (April 11, 2016).

John Strausbaugh, City of Sedition, rev. by Harold Holzer, The Wall Street Journal (August 13-14, 2016).

Charles B. Strozier, Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln, rev. by Harold Holzer, The Wall Street Journal (July 23-24, 2016).

Ronald C. White, American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant, rev. by Chad E. Statler, Library Journal (August 2016).

Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, editors, Herndon on Lincoln: Letters by William H. Herndon, rev. by Thomas A. Horrocks, Civil War News (July 2016).

Gary Phillip Zola, editor, We Called Him Father Abraham: Lincoln and American Jewry, A Documentary History, rev. by Mark A. Noll, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Summer 2016).


Alan Lowe, former director of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas, has been named new director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, commencing July 11. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner appointed Lowe to the position.

Stephen Davis has succeeded Edward Bonekemper as book review editor for the Civil War News.

Catherine Clinton has been elected President of the Southern Historical Association and delivered her presidential address on November 3 at St. Pete Beach, FL.

Sarah Begley, for the September 26 Time, asked Carla Hayden, the new Librarian of Congress, her favorite item in the extensive Abraham Lincoln collection at the LOC. She chose the life mask of Lincoln, as it reminded her of her Illinois family.

Lincoln and Political Culture

All of us know The Star-Spangled Banner, but not everyone can sing it as beautifully as G. Star Swain, a visitor who brought the house down at the Lincoln Memorial on June 16 with her impromptu version of our National Anthem. It is available on YouTube.

On the 150th anniversary of U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Ex Parte Milligan, Frank J. Williams’ op-ed for in the July 1 Providence Journal describes how the decision was a rebuke of Abraham Lincoln’s broad view of his rights under the Constitution during Civil War. The Lincoln administration conducted over 4,000 military commission trials of civilians while the traditional civilian courts were still operating. Justice David Davis, author of the decision (who had also been Lincoln’s trial judge on the Eighth Judicial Circuit in central Illinois as well as his campaign manager at the 1860 Republican National Convention) indicated that Congress could have authorized the use of military commissions in areas in which the civilian courts were operating – not the President. Our current-day Supreme Court has used Ex Parte Milligan as a precedent, admonishing President George W. Bush to seek congressional authority for the use of such military commissions to try detainees without Congress’ approval. Issues relating to civil liberty and national security remain relevant today as does Ex Parte Milligan.

Harold Holzer and Menachem Genack wrote “Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump & Abe Lincoln’s Mantle” for the July 4 New York Daily News, citing Hillary Clinton’s favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, and Donald Trump’s comment that he would be “more presidential than anybody other than the great Abe Lincoln” adding: “He was very presidential, right?” The authors discuss qualities that made Lincoln so very presidential. Hillary Clinton gets high ratings when she advocated “Giving Americans a fair chance in the race of life” right out of Lincoln’s 1861 words. Trump, too, knows that Lincoln is “important” but fails to specifically recognize the qualities of the man. Trump praises an American exceptionalism which is apparently at odds with Lincoln’s ideas. As Lincoln’s “notion of American exceptionalism was an inclusive one, marked by nobility and not meanness.”

Abraham Trump’s Gettysburg Address.”

They tell me this is the biggest crowd in the history of the North.

A while back some founders got together. And I mean they were good people but they really didn’t know anything about building a country. C’mon, you know, let’s face facts. Franklin with his little glasses and Washington with those horrible dentures — it was a nightmare. They didn’t know what the hell they were doing.

So then everyone comes to me and they say, “Please help us we’re in this terrible mess.” And believe me I knew this was gonna happen because our leaders were a total disaster who didn’t have a clue how to negotiate. Not the first clue, OK. It’s crazy. And I knew em all. Millard Filmore? The guy was a trainwreck. Franklin Pierce? A complete moron.  Moron. And then James Buchanan they say dressed up like a woman if you can even believe it. I could tell you stories.

I mean they’re useless but I did business with ’em because I’m a businessman. It’s what I do. I traded cotton. I traded tobacco. I built the biggest plantations in the world. In fact I’ll tell you a story. Jefferson Davis came to me and begged me — begged me to live on a beautiful plantation that I had built in Mississippi. And it was beautiful, everything top notch and luxurious. I mean not the slave cabins ’cause they’re built for slaves. But everything was great and he’s pleading with me and what am I gonna say, “No”? So I sold it to him for an unbelievable profit. Largest profit ever made on a plantation sale. Hundreds of dollars in profit all pre-Confederate, which two centuries from now will be worth around $10 billion if maybe I decide to leave any to my kids. Who knows. We’ll see. And I say that not to brag just to give you an idea what’s what.

And by the way the slaves love me. Love me. The food portions. The amount of sleep. They’re nuts about me. If they end up freed when this is all over I will win the slave vote.

Anyway our politicians are the worst, they’re total failures and they didn’t let the South go bye bye and so I pick up the paper today and I read Salmon Chase may run against me in ’64! This idiot is in my own cabinet. And I like my cabinet, most of them have terrible beards but they’re OK. They follow orders. First of all what kind of name is Salmon? Should be a harpooneer on a whaling ship with a name like that. So I thought to myself, Salmon Chase, isn’t he the guy who night and day pleaded for a job with me after I kicked his ass at the convention in 1860? It was. I even found his telegraph number, give it a try see if it works. Dot dot dash dash dash dot dash dot dot dot dash.

And I can just hear the papers: “Abraham’s attacking again. He’s saying terrible things.” No. I say what I say because I’m honest. And I’m actually doing my job. Not like those nitwits in Washington. I mean I’m out here opening a cemetery for Christ sake! And as I look at this place I’m thinking, “How could there have been so many casualties?” There’s rocks and orchards all around, if I had the time I’d develop the property, but you can’t tell me that if you call yourself a soldier and you hear a shell or something coming you couldn’t have found a place to hide. And incidentally, so what, now Meade is some kind of a great general because he defeated Pickett’s charge? You’re up on a ridge with all your cannons and everything and the other army is walking right toward you. I mean they’re literally walking. Who couldn’t win that!

The point is I’m up all hours saving the Union and then here we are in this cemetery and I’m supposed to do what? Honor the dead? They’re dead. They’re losers. How are we in debt to them? I hate to tell you, but I like the guys who didn’t die. I’ll honor some of them.

And speaking of honoring, they want me to wrap up so they can honor me at a dinner. I’m so in demand it’s insanity half the time. All I’m telling you is if you’re living everything is for you.

Presidential candidates are bereft if they cannot quote Abraham Lincoln during a campaign year. Hillary Clinton lamented the “Party of Lincoln” (The Republican Party) in its transition to the “Party of Trump” in Springfield on July 13.  She quickly invoked President Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech which Lincoln gave in accepting the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1858 to run against Senator Stephen A. Douglas.  Paraphrasing Lincoln, she closed, “If we do the work, we will cease to be divided, we, in fact, will be indivisible – with liberty and justice for all.  And we will remain–in President Lincoln’s words–the last, best hope of earth.”

Bruce Rushton, in “Shredding Lincoln: Abe’s Files in Peril” in the June 9-15 Illinois Times continued to express concern as The Papers of Abraham Lincoln faces continually imperiled state funding, with the staff reduced from 12 to seven.  Even with an investigation by the Illinois Inspector General during the fall of 2015 finding nothing amiss, grants have been in jeopardy.  The Abraham Bicentennial Foundation withheld a $25,000 gift out of concern for the project’s future.  The power struggle between former Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum director Eileen Mackevich, who resigned during the fall of 2015, and former Illinois Historic Preservation Agency director Amy Martin, who was terminated by the agency board one month after Mackevich’s resignation, continues to make news.  Intrigue continued with allegations that Martin resented project director Daniel Stowell’s alleged alliance with Mackevich. Kathryn Harris, President of the Abraham Lincoln Association, was quoted as saying: “[I]…can’t figure out what was broken at the paper’s project that needed fixing.”

The July Duluth Trading Co. catalog titled, “The Great Debate Buck Naked or Free Range Cotton?” continues to draw attention with a cover that included Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen A. Douglas dressed in just shorts and boots.

Cartoonist Bennett, for the Chattanooga Times, pictures Abraham Lincoln with a “Trump win” hat and wearing a GOP button and the caption, “The Party of Lincoln.” A copy of the cartoon appeared in the April 1 The Week.

On May 23, Scott Stantis’s cartoon for the Washington Post, “Prickly City,” depicts vacant stairs in the Lincoln Memorial with a caption from one of the visitors, “He’s not endorsing Trump either…”

Michael Gerson wrote “The Party of Lincoln is Dying” for the June 10, 2016 Washington Post.  Gerson mentioned the concern of Republican leaders with Donald Trump’s questioning the objectivity of a federal judge based on his Mexican heritage.  House Speaker, Paul D. Ryan, stated: “It was the textbook definition of a racist comment.”  For Gerson, it doesn’t matter whether Trump, himself, is a racist, as there “is no difference in public influence between a politician who is a racist and one who appeals to racist sentiments with racist arguments.”  Nebraska Senator, Ben Sasse, is the actual leader of the GOP as, “Collectively, however, it has failed one of the most basic tests for public justice: don’t support racists – or candidates who appeal to racism – for public office.  If this commitment is not a primary, non-negotiable element of Republican identity, then the party of Lincoln is dead.”

Dr. John G. Sotos believes that Abraham Lincoln had an extremely rare genetic disorder and speculated that he, at the time of his death, would live less than a year.  Sotos believes that Lincoln had a genetic syndrome called MEN 2B which accounts for Lincoln’s great height, which some have argued is an indication of Marfan Syndrome.  To Sotos, Lincoln was dying of cancer.  One of medicine’s rarest conditions, MEN 2B is short for “multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B.”  It invariably develops cancer in a hormone-producing organ.

Cartoonist Steve Sack, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune for March 11, features Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump riding an elephant with a tapestry reading “G.O.P. The Party of Lincoln John Wilkes Booth.”

Cathleen Kaveny discussed Abraham Lincoln and his Second Inaugural Address in “Modest Beginnings: Tracing a Strain of Humility in American Public Speaking” for the summer Boston College Magazine.


Emilie Le Beau Lucchesi wrote “Accomplice or Mastermind? Mary Surratt’s Role in Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination has been debated since 1865” for the August 7 Chicago Tribune.

Smithsonian Associates sponsored a tour of John Wilkes Booth’s escape route on October 10 with Civil War historians Ed Bearss and Gregg Clemmer.

Works in Progress

George (“Bob”) Dekle’s Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln will be published by Southern Illinois University Press, Summer 2017. Volumes in the Concise Lincoln Library to be published in 2017 are Lincoln in Indiana by Brian R. Dirck and Lincoln and Congress by William C. Harris.

Judge Jay Jorgensen’s Top Ten at Gettysburg with contributions by Richard Bellamy, Lawrence Korczyk, Michael Rupert, William “Pat” Schubert, Ralph Siegel & James Woods will be published this fall.


Mary Elizabeth (“Molly”) Becker, longtime member of the Board of Directors of the Abraham Lincoln Association and recipient of its Logan Hay Medal in 2009, died on May 30, 2016.

Jack Davis, noted cartoonist – especially for Mad Magazine – where he was in residence for many years, died on September 27, 2016. Many do not realize that he illustrated Barbara Cary’s 1965 children’s book, Meet Abraham Lincoln.  

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, Dennis E. Stark, 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, 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, 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