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The Spoken Word and Group Activities

The Seventeenth Annual Conference on Illinois History took place on September 24 and 25, 2015, with a luncheon presentation by Lincoln interpreter Fritz Klein. Christian McWhirter moderated a session, Remembering Lincoln, with Mark Polhlad (“Harriet Monroe, Poetry and Abraham Lincoln”), Samuel J. Rogal (“Abraham Lincoln, Through English Eyes: Tom Taylor and John Drinkwater”), and James Cornelius (“Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Lincoln Funeral”). Mark DePue moderated Illinois Politics with Tom M. George (“Abraham Lincoln and the First Corruption of Illinois Politics”), and Philip and Lauren Nesbitt presented (“Ulysses S. Grant and War Leadership”) as part of the Civil War Stories.

Richard Brookhiser, author of Founders’ Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, spoke to the members of The Lincoln Group of New York on November 10, 2015. On February 10, Harold Holzer moderated a discussion with Jonathan D. Sarna on his book, Lincoln and the Jews, at a joint meeting of The Lincoln Group and The Civil War Round Table of New York.

Frank J. Williams presented lectures at the New Jersey Judicial College in Newark on November 23, 2015: “The Lincoln Assassination in the Law and Lore” and “Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.”

On December 18, 2015, the Washington State Historical Society hosted Civil War Ends! 13th Amendment Ratified! Slavery Abolished! with presentations by: Hugh Spitzer (“The 13th Amendment: A Promise Only Partially Realized”), Eva M. Abram (“A New Dispensation: Voices of Slavery, Freedom, and Hope”), and Quintard Taylor, Jr. (“We Have Lived over a Century in the Past Ten Years: The Impact of the Civil War on Modern American Society”). Jordan-Michael Whidbey read President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.

President Lincoln’s Cottage hosted a conversation with Harold Holzer on January 14. Holzer discussed Lincoln’s beliefs and policies on economic rights and opportunity – the subject of A Just and Generous Nation which he co-authored with Norton Garfinkle. Cottage Director Erin Carlson Mast served as interlocutor.

Gregg Mierka, Treasurer of the Rhode Island Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration Commission, presented his talk about “Governor William Sprague” at the January 20 meeting of the group.

The 2016 Sarasota Civil War Symposium, sponsored by Civil War Education Association and its President, Bob Maher, was held January 21-23, with the following presentations: “R. E. Lee and the Confederate Peacemakers of 1865” by William C. “Jack” Davis; “Lincoln and the Press: Master or Monster?” by Harold Holzer; “A Tale of Two Armies: The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac” by Joseph T. Glattharr; “Ole Joe in the Viper’ Pit” by Richard M. McMurry; “Anything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Battle of Gettysburg!” by Gary Kross; “Reconstruction – Where Did We Go Wrong?” by Frank J. Williams; “The Army of Northern Virginia in September, 1862” by Robert K. Krick; “The Four-Legged Soldiers” by James I. “Bud” Robertson; “Ulysses S. Grant Returns to Mississippi” by John F. Marszalek; “The Fates of Three Young Union Cavalry Officers: Wesley Merritt, Elon Farnsworth and George Custer” by Edwin C. Bearss; “An Army that was His: Joseph E. Johnston and the Army of Tennessee” by Richard M. McMurry; and, “Humor and Wit in the Civil War” by Joseph T. Glatthaar.

On January 24, the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation and HistoryMiami hosted Abraham Lincoln and Immigration with a keynote lecture by Harold Holzer (“Lincoln, The Press, and New Americans”), followed by a panel, “Lincoln, Immigration, and the Meaning of the 14th Amendment,” with Frank J. Williams as moderator and panelists Michael Bernath, Orville Vernon Burton, and Darrel Bingham. Support for the symposium was provided, in part, by Jean Soman.

Bernice A. King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the banquet speaker at the February 12, Banquet of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Springfield, IL. Douglas L. Wilson was the Association’s keynote speaker on February 11. On February 12, Jason Silverman and Louise Stevenson presented at the Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium in the Old State Capitol.

Thomas L. Carson presented “Lincoln as a Moral Exemplar” at the Thomas F. Schwartz Luncheon and Lecture on February 12 in Springfield, IL. Also on that day, Bryon C. Andreasen presented “Lincoln and Mormon Country,” and Bonnie Paull and Richard Hart presented “Lincoln’s Neighborhood” as part of the George L. Painter Looking for Lincoln Lectures at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Springfield.

On February 12, Edna Greene Medford and David W. Blight, in conversation with Harold Holzer, presented and discussed Glory, a film that follows the first all-black regiment as they fight for racial equality, for the New-York Historical Society’s film series.

On February 12, William K. Miller spoke about “Myths After Lincoln” at the Duluth Women’s Club.

The New-York Historical Society hosted Reconstruction with David W. Blight, Eric Foner, Edna Greene Medford, and Harold Holzer as Moderator, on February 13.

Todd Brewster discussed his Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of Civil War at the February 13 meeting of the Lincoln Group of Boston.

The National Archives hosted a February 18 panel on “Why Lincoln Still Matters,” featuring Craig Symonds, Martha Hodes, and Harold Holzer, moderator. Holzer and his coauthor, Norton Garfinkle, presented on their book, A Just and Generous Nation, at New York’s 92nd Street Y, on February 8. On February 11th, Holzer narrated an encore performance of his “Lincoln’s Favorite Shakespeare” at The Metropolitain Museum of Art’s Grace Raney Rogers Auditorium. Actors Blair Brown, Stephen Lang, and 90-year-old Fritz Weaver performed the soliloquies.

Harold Holzer delivered The Lincoln Lyceum Address at Gettysburg College – an annual talk by Lincoln Prize laureates – on February 23.

Thomas Mackie, Director, and Stephen Wilson, Curator of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, taught an Overview of the Civil War at the Oak Ridge Center for Continued Learning through Roane State Community College in Oak Ridge, TN. The pair will alternate teaching six classes for the Spring Semester in March and April on “Capturing the War in Art”–photography, music, art, drawings, photographers, and artist-correspondents; “Avenues of War”–investigating how rivers and railroads changed the face of war; and, “Civil War Leaders: A Small Band of Friends in the Midst of a Big Argument”–who were these men and what caused them to take up arms against each other?

The Chambersburg (PA) Civil War Seminars and Tours ( is sponsoring Lincoln at Gettysburg, September 22-25, with Joe Mieczkowski, John Schildt, David T. Dixon, Ed Steers, and others.

In October, the Lecture Series of the University of Illinois Springfield will sponsor Lincoln & Reconstruction: America’s Struggle for Equality with Michael Burlingame, Allen Guelzo, and Brooks Simpson.

International Legacy

The International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport issued the seventh volume of Abraham Lincoln Abroad in conjunction with the International Lincoln Association. It includes “The Age of Lincoln–A Global Legacy” by William “Jack” C. Davis, which had been delivered as the annual Frank and Virginia Lincoln lecture at LSU Shreveport, and Max J. Skidmore (University of MissouriKansas City), on “Lincoln’s Lasting Legacy.”

Ian Ephron, “Israel’s Lincoln?” appeared in the November 4 issue of the Washington Post.

William D. Pederson was presented the Outstanding Leadership Award of the Association of Third World Studies at its annual conference held on November 22-24 in Quito, Ecuador. He was a guest of the Lincoln Library at the U.S. Embassy and spoke at the Abraham Lincoln School in Quito.

The Abraham Lincoln Society of Bangladesh held its annual Lincoln’s Day Program on February 12 in Dhaka.

Demetrio Perez, Jr., the founder of the Lincoln-Marti schools in Miami, FL, has donated a print of Jester de Quiro’s January 28, 1971 painting of Jose Marti and Abraham Lincoln to the International Lincoln Center’s Collection.

The International Lincoln Center has established a Farsi (Persian) Weblog, “The Enduring Legacy of Abraham Lincoln: With Malice Toward None, With Charity for All.” (

Paul D. Escott published, Uncommonly Savage: Civil War and Remembrance in Spain and the United States, rev. by Wayne H. Bowers, Civil War History (November 2015).

Robert E. May issued, Slavery, Race, and Conquest in the Tropics: Lincoln, Douglas, and the Future of Latin America, rev. by Ed Bradley, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016).

Richard M. Reid produced, African Americans in Union Blue: Volunteering for the Cause in the Civil War, rev. by Ikuko Asaka, Journal of Southern History (February 2016).

Todd W. Wahlstrom wrote, The Southern Exodus to Mexico: Migration across the Borderlands after the American Civil War, rev. by Robert E. May, American Historical Review (February 206).

Arts & Entertainment

Brian J. Snee has written Lincoln Before Lincoln, about early cinematic adaptations of the 16th president.

Kent Masterson Brown has produced “I Remember the Old Home Very Well:” The Lincolns in Kentucky. The premiere broadcast was held on February 12, 2016, on the public television station KETKY.

Philip Glass’s opera, Appomattox, which had its premiere in 2007, has been revised by Glass and is playing at the Washington National Opera through November 22. Heidi Waleson reviewed the opera in the November 18 Wall Street Journal and Anne Midgette for the November 15 Washington Post.


The National Portrait Gallery is hosting Dark Fields of the Republic: Alexander Gardner the Photographs, 1859-1872, through March 13, 2016.

Chicago History Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum have collaborated for the exhibit “Undying Words: Lincoln 1858-1865.” The exhibit was on view at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum from November 22, 2014 through February 28, 2016.

Awards and Prizes

The Hazel Dicken-Garcia Award for Distinguished Scholarship in History and Journalism was awarded to Harold Holzer at the 23rd Annual Symposium on the 19th Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression at the University of Tennessee in January.

The Lincoln Group of New York presented its annual Award of Achievement and The Civil War Round Table of New York bestowed its 54th Annual Barondess Lincoln Award to Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell for their book, Lincoln and the Jews, on February 10.

Martha Hodes, author of Mourning Lincoln, was named the 2016 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize winner. A Professor of History at New York University, her book is the culmination of years of research focusing on the reactions of Americans to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The prize comes with $50,000 and a replica of the Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ life-size bust, Lincoln the Man. The ceremony took place on April 21 in New York City.

Eric Foner, the much-decorated Columbia University historian, was named American History Laureate by the New-York Historical Society in April. He also received its annual $50,000 American History Book Prize for Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad.

For his 2014 book, Lincoln and the Power of the Press, Harold Holzer received the $5,000 Goldstein Book Prize from The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School on March 7.


Bidsquare sold a preliminary sketch, oil on paper laid on card, for the painting held by the Butler Institute of American Art of Norman Rockwell’s Lincoln The Railsplitter. It sold for $59,520.

Heritage Auctions and The Rail Splitter have joined forces to host a one-time national auction of Lincoln, the Civil War in 19th Century Historical Americana, scheduled for July 2016 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Rail Splitter: A Journal for the Lincoln Collector.

On February 26, the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Coalition conducted a private showing of the professional video of the Lincoln reenactment held on March 3, 2015.


Dan Weinberg and his Abraham Lincoln Book Shop have issued Catalog 177.

While The Papers of Abraham Lincoln project received National Endowment for the Humanities funding of $400,000 for the next three fiscal years, its financing from the State of Illinois remains precarious. As a result, four research associates for The Papers of Abraham Lincoln were laid off, effective November 15, 2015. Daniel Stowell, Director of The Lincoln Papers Project, reported in the Lincoln Editor for October-December 2015 that for the project to survive it needed $235,000 from the State of Illinois, and needed to raise $180,000 in private funding.

Amy Martin, the head of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, was terminated by the IHPA Board on November 2, 2015. Martin had clashed with Eileen Mackevich, former Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. Mackevich had resigned in October 2015.

Tom Peet and David Keck are the authors of the second edition of Reading Lincoln: An Annotated Bibliography (Self-published by Tom Peet, 6128 Headington Place, Gahanna, OH 43230).

A plaster sculpture of President Abraham Lincoln’s hand, displayed for years at the Kankakee County Museum (IL), mysteriously disappeared from its shelf sometime in early December. The hand was the work of George Grey Barnard whose more than life-size statue of the 16th president is on display in Cincinnati.

The January 2016 issue of Civil War News was to be its last–or was it? Kathryn Jorgensen transferred title to Civil War News to Jack W. Melton, Jr. of Historical Publications who was to fold Civil War News into a new magazine, Civil War Battles and Commanders. But contributors and subscribers to Civil War News persuaded Melton to continue with Civil War News.

The Washington Stamp Exchange ( has issued pictorial postmark covers of the Civil War Sesquicentennial stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation held its last meeting in Coral Gables, FL, on January 26, to make final grants from its remaining funds. The Bicentennial Foundation’s web site will now be maintained by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN.

The January/February Library of Congress Magazine featured one of the two original copies of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the Library of Congress Collections. The first draft had been in the possession of Lincoln’s secretary, John George Nicolay, and the second in the possession of Lincoln’s other secretary, John Hay. Hay’s children donated both the Hay and the Nicolay copies to the Library of Congress in 2016. The three remaining copies are preserved at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL; Cornell University in Ithaca, NY; and the Lincoln bedroom in the White House.

Philanthropist David Rubenstein announced, on February 15, that he was giving $18 million dollars to make improvements to the Lincoln Memorial. The money will go to repairing damaged masonry, cleaning the memorial, and conserving the murals inside. The National Park Service also announced the huge expansion of exhibit, education, and research base. Rubenstein, in 2012, gave $7.5 million to help restore The Washington Monument after earthquake damage.

The life-size Lincoln statue in Burlington, Wisconsin, created by sculptor George Ganiere as a gift in 1912 from dentist Francis Meinhardt, has been rededicated after a 22-year-old man had vandalized it on January 30.

Books and Pamphlets

Wayne C. Temple’s Lincoln’s Surgeons at His Assassination has been published by Mayhaven Publishing, Inc.

Harold Holzer and Thomas A. Horrocks have edited The Annotated Lincoln for Belknap/Harvard University Press.

Lincoln’s Billy, a historical novel by Tom LeClair, has been published by The Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY 11963).

Herndon on Lincoln Letters by William H. Herndon and edited by Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis is a new volume in The Knox College Lincoln Study Center (University of Illinois Press).

Sidney Blumenthal is the author of The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln: A Self-Made Man 1809-1849 (Simon & Schuster).

Collateral Books

Gerald A. Danzer’s, Illinois: A History in Pictures, has been published in paper by University of Illinois Press.

The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe by Elaine Showalter has been published by Simon & Schuster.


Tara McClellan McAndrew wrote “Early 1900s custodian had grand plans for Lincoln’s tomb” about Lincoln tomb curator Herbert Wells Fay for the October 4 State Journal-Register (IL).

Mark Grimsley wrote “Lincoln and Little Mac” for the Winter 2015 Civil War Monitor. Also in the same issue was, “Duty & The Draft” by Jay Matthew Gallman about the 2000 word memo Abraham Lincoln wrote, “Opinion on the Draft,” in the Fall of 1863.

Roger D. Billings, Jr. wrote “Abraham Lincoln and the Duty of Zealous Representation: The Matson Slave Case” for the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal (Spring-Summer 2015).

Andrew Delbanco wrote “Uncompromise Compromise” about how Lincoln pursued justice and ethnicity at the same time for the August 19, 2013 New Republic.

William Bartelt wrote “Lincoln Family Moves from Kentucky to Indiana” for the Winter For the People: A Newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association. “DNA Test: Nancy Hanks is the Daughter of Lucy Hanks” was also in this issue. (Tests support what Dennis and John Hanks, both cousins of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, told William Herndon in 1865 and disproved the theory of Louis P. Warren and others that Nancy’s mother was Lucy Shipley.) Also in this issue was Tom George’s “Overlooked Letter to Lincoln Reveals Misstep and 1855 Senate Race.”

The Spring 2015 Lincoln Herald included Jim Siberell’s “President Lincoln’s Grandfather had Revolutionary War Service North of the Ohio River in ‘McIntosh’s Campaign,’” and Howard Odel’s “Lincoln Takes the Pulse of the Confederacy at Charleston in March 1861.” The Summer issue included Thomas D. Matijasic’s “Lincoln, Democracy, and the Founders of Czechoslovakia,” and Glenn Tucker’s “John Wilkes Booth at the John Brown Hanging,”

Lee Morgan wrote “Constitutional Issues in the Works of Herman Melville” for the 2015 Lincolnator: Abraham Lincoln at Home, a publication of the Louisiana Lincoln Group. The 2016 issue featured “Lincoln’s Role in Changing the Constitution: The 13th Amendment” by Victor Killory.

The Spring Civil War Monitor included George C. Rable’s “‘Damn Yankees,’ How Confederates Defined and Demonized their Northern Opponents.” Stephen W. Sears wrote “The Wilderness Revisited” and Mark Grimsley offered “Ulysses S. Grant and the Long, Hard Slog.” The editors provided a visit to Springfield, IL, with the help of Christian McWhirter and Samuel Wheeler.

Sher Watts Spooner wrote “Presidents and Cartoons: You Think Obama Gets Dissed? Look What Abe Lincoln Faced” for the February 14 Daily Cos.

Harold Holzer wrote “Abraham Lincoln’s White House” for the White House Historical Society (

The Winter Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association included Edna Greene Medford’s “Lincoln’s Legacy of Justice and Equality of Opportunity: Our Challenge a Century and a Half Later,” Christopher W. Anderson’s “Native Americans and the Origins of Abraham Lincoln’s Views on Race,” and Samuel Wheeler’s “Building a Twenty-First Century Lincoln Memorial: The Digital Revolution and Lincoln Study Scholarship.”


Terry Alford, Fortune’s Fool, The Life of John Wilkes Booth, rev. by Frank J. Piatek, Civil War News (September 2015).

Donald Allendorf, Your Friend, As Ever, A. Lincoln: How the Unlikely Friendship of Gustave Koerner and Abraham Lincoln Changed History, rev. by Jason H. Silverman, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016).

Michael Anderegg, Lincoln and Shakespeare, rev. by Thomas A. Horrocks, Civil War News (March 2016).

John McKee Barr, Loathing Lincoln: An American Tradition from the Civil War to the President, rev. by Barry Schwartz, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016); rev. by Brian Dirck, Civil War History (March 2016).

Todd Brewster, Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War, rev. by Robert O. Faith, Civil War History (December 2015).

Kathryn Canavan, Lincoln’s Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America’s Greatest President, rev. by Sean A. Scott, Civil War News (December 2015).

Thomas L. Carson, Lincoln’s Ethics, rev. by John Herron, The Chronicle Review (December 11, 2015).

Sean Conant, editor, The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln’s Greatest Speech, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War News (September 2015).

David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation, rev. by Lisa Tendrich Frank, Civil War History (March 2016).

William C. Davis, Crucible of Command: Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee – the War They Fought, the Peace they Forged, rev. by William L. Barney, The Journal of Southern History (February 2016).

Jason Emerson, editor, Mary Lincoln’s Insanity Case: A Documentary History, rev. by Connie Clowers, Civil War News (December 2015).

Stephen D. Engle, editor, The War Worth Fighting: Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency and Civil War America, rev. by Thomas A. Horrocks, Civil War News (September 2015), rev. by John F. Marszalek, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016).

Paul D. Escott, Lincoln’s Dilemma: Blair, Sumner, and the Republican Struggle over Racism and Equality in the Civil War Era, rev. by Paul Taylor, Civil War News (December 2015); rev. by William L. Barney, The Journal of Southern History (February 2016); rev. by Andrew F. Lang, Civil War History (March 2016)..

Stephen Harrigan, A Friend of Mr. Lincoln, rev. by David S. Reynolds, Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2016).

Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln, rev. by Mark S. Schantz, Civil War History (March 2016).

Harold Holzer, Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion, rev. by Jack Furniss, Civil War History (December 2015).

Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, eds., 1865: America Makes War and Peace in Lincoln’s Final Year, rev. by David A. Galli, Civil War News (August 2015).

Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle, A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity, rev. by Edward Bonekemper, Civil War News (January 2016); rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2016).

George Kateb, Lincoln’s Political Thought, rev. by Thomas C. Mackey, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2016).

Carla Knorowski, editor, Gettysberg Replies: The World Responds to Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, rev. by Richard Lawrence Miller, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2015).

Brian Craig Miller, editor, A Punishment on the Nation: An Iowa Soldier Endures the Civil War, rev. by Robert J. Wick, The Lincoln Herald (Spring 2015).

Jared Peatman, The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, rev. by Andrew Delbanco, Civil War History (March 2016).

Steven K. Rogstad, Racine’s Lincoln Legends: Laying Three Myths to Rest, rev. by Harold Holzer, The Lincoln Herald (Spring 2015).

Jonathan D. Sarna and Benjamin Shapell, Lincoln and the Jew: A History, rev. by John F. Marszalek, Civil War News (September 2015); rev by Jonathan Derek Awtrey, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2016).

Jason H. Silverman, Lincoln and the Immigrant, rev. by Charles H. Bogart, Civil War News (January 2016).

John Y. Simon and Harold Holzer, editors, The Lincoln Forum: Rediscovering Abraham Lincoln, rev. by Michael Burkhimer, The Lincoln Herald (Spring 2015).

John David Smith, Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops, rev. by Ed Bradley, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016).

Edward Steers, Jr., Lincoln’s Assassination, rev. by Daniel W. Farrell, Civil War History (March 2016).

John Taliaferro, All the Great Prizes: The Life of John Hay, From Lincoln to Roosevelt, rev. by John M. Cooper, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016).

Hans Trefousse, First Among Equals: Abraham Lincoln’s Reputation during His Administration, rev. by Michael Burkhimer, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2015).

John C. Waugh, Lincoln and the War’s End, rev. by Daniel Farrell, Civil War History (March 2016).

Jonathan W. White, Emancipation, The Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln, rev. by Madeleine Forrest, Civil War History (December 2015); rev. by Brooks D. Simpson, The Journal of Southern History (February 2016).

Frank J. Williams, Lincoln as Hero, rev. by Wayne C. Temple, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2015).

Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, editors, Herndon on Lincoln: Letters, rev. by David S. Reynolds, Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2016).

Joshua Zeitz, Lincoln Boy’s: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image, rev. by Barry Schwartz, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2016).


Author Thomas P. Lowry’s career as a Civil War researcher and author of 23 books has come to an end. Health problems for him and his collaborator, wife Beverly, have caused their retirement.

Tom McLaughlin, a 1994 graduate of Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL, has assumed the duties of Director of the Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College. He follows Ron Keller, who decided to return to teaching full time as an Associate Professor of History and Political Science at the college.

Lincoln and Political Culture

Steven Spielberg’s new movie, Bridge of Spies, is based on Bronx-born lawyer James Donovan, played by Tom Hanks, who defended the vilified Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, during the Cold War. In an interview with Spielberg by Cara Buckley for the October 18 “Arts & Leisure” of The New York Times, Spielberg was asked, “Did you see commonalities with ‘Bridge of Spies’ and ‘Lincoln’ in terms of the story lines?” Spielberg answered, “Both men are highly principled, and both men basically have a mission.   Lincoln’s mission was going to change the way we look at each other, and Donovan’s mission was to basically bring somebody home. In a sense, Lincoln and Donovan are uncompromising figures in history, one completely obscure and the other almost ineffably famous.”

Dick Polman wrote “Lincoln’s Party Long Ago Abandoned His Ideal” as an op-ed for the December 16 Westerly Sun. The author believes that the current Republican Party has turned its back on Abraham Lincoln and the reasons why the party was formed. Abraham Lincoln supported the 13th Amendment and believed the new GOP to be the civil rights party. This legacy has been hurt by “low-road Republicans since the late 1960s.” “Blacks, Hispanics, and Asian voters have no interest in supporting a party that retails intolerance. And now that Donald Trump is out there braying for a total ban on Muslim travelers, the GOP can pretty much write off the Muslim-American voters who are disproportionally clustered in key states like Virginia, Florida, Ohio, and Michigan.” Lincoln was for freedom and “was willing to push hard, to brave the ugliness.”

President Barack Obama issued a proclamation on December 4, 2015, in commemoration of the December 6, 1865 ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States.

“One hundred and fifty years after the 13th Amendment’s ratification, the United States endures, and though the scourge of slavery is a stain on our history, we remain a people not trapped by the mistakes of our past, but one that can look at our imperfections with humility and decide it is within our power to remake our Nation to more closely align with our highest ideals. On this historic occasion, let us pay tribute to those who suffered for too long and to those who risked everything to make this country better. With unyielding determination to stand on their shoulders and reach for an even freer and more equal tomorrow, we can honor them with the recognition and respect worthy of their extraordinary contributions to our country….”

Larry Getlen wrote “The Scruff of History” for the December 20 New York Post. It explored the story of young Grace Bedell, who persuaded Lincoln to grow facial hair during his presidential campaign in 1860.

Cartoonist Ohman, for the December 8, 2015, Oregonian, featured Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas in their debates, with Donald Trump admonishing them: “You’re a loser and a joke, you’ve got no chance and are trailing in Illinois…” which he directs to Lincoln. The sidebar reads, “Trump debate: All Klass!”

Hugh Howard wrote “A Civil War Corrective” for the July 12, 2015, Washington Post. The controversy over the Confederate battle flag may “blind us to another large misunderstanding of the past.” The way the North remembers the Civil War is also deeply flawed and misleading by forgetting how citizens of the Union regarded President Lincoln’s war, slavery, and even African Americans. Many in the North did not harbor abolition sympathies before the war. “The past is no more a fixed destination than the future is, and we need to question constantly the history we’ve been handed. One encounters such proper names as Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Selma and, now, Clementa Pinckney…. There is little that is black and white about our terrible Civil War and the enduring legacy where which we must still wrestle.”

Jennifer Schulessler reported on how the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project is being threatened by Illinois state house politics in “Lincoln’s Papers Find a Familiar Spot: In the Middle and in Jeopardy” for the February 13 New York Times. Concerns are growing that the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project to make every document written by or sent to Lincoln available online may end because of budget and political squabbles between Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican, and Michael J. Madigan, the long-time Democratic Speaker of the Illinois House. The Times editorialized on the sorry state of affairs on March 13.

The Duluth Trading Co featured a rail splitting Lincoln on its February catalog cover. (“World’s Most Flexible Work Pants/HONEST.)

Harold Holzer’s Huff Post blog, “Reconstructing Hillary,” repels the charge that Hillary Clinton believes in the “discredited Southern Lost Cause theory of post-Civil War Reconstruction.” While believing that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest American president, she did not say that white southerners had been mistreated by “carpetbaggers, as some commentators immediately and all-knowingly crackled.” Mrs. Clinton merely said that if Lincoln had lived, many of the horrors of Reconstruction would not have occurred. She believes that all Americans should have an equal chance in the race of life. Holzer said the piece was also posted by the History News Network.

On February 12, Heather Long wrote “How Abraham Lincoln Tried to Get Someone a Job” ( The article included a letter that Lincoln wrote in May 1863 to a board member to the U.S. Trust asking if the bank would hire a young man named George Bayard, “If you can do it, without inconvenience, or injustice to any other person, I shall be very glad indeed.” U.S. Trust is not sure if young George got the job. The letter, “rediscovered” by Harold Holzer during a visit to his banker, has now been scanned for The Lincoln Papers Project.

On February 1, the New Yorker cover imagined former presidents Washington, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy reactions to a screaming Donald Trump broadcast on television. JFK can be seen popping antacid while Washington face-palms at the sight of the Republican presidential candidate. Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt look on in morbid and disgusting fascination.

Harold Holzer’s February 12 “Masterpiece” column for the Wall Street Journal, “A Common Bond of Grief,” discussed Lincoln’s letter to Fanny McCullough commiserating with the daughter of his old friend Lt. Col. William McCullough who died in a nighttime ambush. Drawing on his own experience of loss of his son Willie in February 1862, Lincoln comforted the daughter of his friend. The 166 word letter was purchased in 1997 by manuscript collector Benjamin Shapell for $400,000.

Orville Vernon Burton, Professor of History, Sociology, and Computer Science at Clemson University has assembled the following terms used to describe the Civil War for Big Data (HathiTrust): War of Rebellion, Civil War, War Between the States, War for the States Rights, Mr. Lincoln’s War, Brothers’ War, War of Secession, War Against Slavery, War of Northern Aggression, Lost Cause, Late Unpleasantness, The Schism, War for Southern Independence, Second American Revolution, Southern Rebellion, Second War for Independence, and War for Southern Freedom.

Charles Lane wrote “A Lesson from Lincoln” for the November 26, 2015, Washington Post. To the author, Thanksgiving Day is paradoxical as it invokes “attitude that is nearly the opposite of the grievance which existed when Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863. To Lincoln, it was important to make the connection between blessings then existing for a country at war and “democratic stability.” Lane discusses Lincoln’s speech before the Springfield, Illinois, Young Men’s Lyceum in the midst of lowliness on the American frontier, including the lynching in Alton, IL, of abolitionist editor, Elijah Lovejoy, by a pro-slavery mob. To Lincoln, no one was safe from the mobs, that the violence was a “symptom of waning gratitude for the American Revolution’s establishment of freedom and the rule of law – incomplete though it was.” While our thanks do not come at a time of grave threats like the Civil War, “…reflect on how far we still are from adhering to his wisdom.”

Tom Toles’s cartoon for the February 17 Washington Post pictures the Lincoln Memorial without Abraham Lincoln sitting in his chair. A visitor says, “It’s being renovated and Congress said they need to wait until after the election to decide who gets to sit there.”

Bramhall’s World, on February 15, in the Daily News, portrays George Washington and Abraham Lincoln watching television with Washington, “What do you think if the presidential candidates so far?” and Lincoln, “Just shoot me.”

Works in Progress

The Presidents and the Constitution: A Living History, edited by Kenneth Gormley, will be published by NYU Press in May 2016.

Louisiana State University Shreveport will host its 11th Triennial Deep South Conference, Great Legislators, Great Legislation, from October 18-20, 2018. A call for papers has been made and proposals should be sent to Professor William D. Pederson, International Lincoln Center, LSUS, One University Place, 321BH, Shreveport, LA 71115.

The Lincoln Assassination Riddle: Revisiting the Crime of the Nineteenth Century, edited by Frank J. Williams and Michael Burkhimer, will be published by Kent State University Press in May.


Lincoln presenter, William Truman Peck, died on November 3, 2015 at the age of 84.

David Gaddy, co-author with William Tidwell of Come Retribution, died on November 22, 2015 after suffering a serious stroke.

Robert Wolfgang, age 62, Chairman of the Massachusetts Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and State Ranger at the Massachusetts State House died on January 26 after a long illness. The Massachusetts Senate adjourned in his memory.

Author’s Note

I want to thank Florence J. Baur, 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, 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 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