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The Spoken Word and Group Activities

Bob Maher hosted his 25th Sarasota Civil War Symposium of the Civil War Education Association from January 19-21, with the following presentations: Robert K. Krick (“‘Under the Shadow of a Superstition’: Stonewall Jackson’s Unparalleled Failure during the Seven Days”), Candice S. Hooper (“The Untold Story of Mark Twain and McClellan’s Memoirs”), Harold Holzer (“Lincoln and the Uncivil War on Immigration”), Jeffry D. Wert (“History and John Mosby”), Bob Maher and Keith Kehlbeck (“We Unveil the New & Improved CWEA: Mission, Projects and Tours”), Frank J. Williams (“Abraham Lincoln and His Dissenters – Turning Them Around: A Lesson in Leadership”), James I. “Bud” Robertson (“Civil War Echoes from Virginia, 1859-1891”), John F. Marszalek (“Ulysses S. Grant: The General Tells His Story”), William C. “Jack” Davis (“Gabe and Nannie: The Civil War Romance of a Confederate General”), Joseph T. Glatthaar (“Sherman’s Army on the Great March”), Edwin C. Bearss (“Black Soldiers: North and South”), Craig L. Symonds (“October, 1863: Mutiny in the Army of Tennessee”), and Robert K. Krick (“The Rape of Fredericksburg”).

Corey Lewandowski, who served as President Donald Trump’s campaign manager for much of the primary season, was the keynote speaker at the Sangamon County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner on February 8.
Daniel Crofts delivered the keynote address on February 11 at the Old State Capitol, Springfield, “The Paradoxical Emancipator: Abraham Lincoln and the other Thirteenth Amendment.”

C-SPAN-3 broadcast the following programs from Lincoln Forum XXI at Gettysburg, November 16-18, 2016 featuring Joan Waugh on January 28 and Sidney Blumenthal on January 29: February 11, Panel Discussion “Who Inspired Lincoln: Foundations for Leadership” with Sidney Blumenthal, Richard Brookhiser, Ronald C. White, Jr., and moderator Harold Holzer; February 11, 26 & 27, Panel Discussion “Voting Rights for Black Freedmen: What Went Right and What Went Wrong” featuring Edna Greene Medford, Joan Waugh, Douglas R. Egerton, and moderator Frank J. Williams; February 12 & 27, Harold Holzer “Lincoln and the Uncivil War Over Immigration”; and February 12, Richard Brookhiser “Lincoln and the Founders.” Catherine Clinton’s “What Became of the Lincoln Family” was broadcast on February 26.

At the Thomas F. Schwartz luncheon on February 12 in Springfield, IL, Noah Andre Trudeau discussed “Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency (March 24-April 8, 1865).”

Burt Solomon presented “The Murder of Willie Lincoln” and James Conroy discussed “Lincoln’s White House: An Inside History” at the Benjamin B. Thomas Symposium at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Springfield, on February 12.

Catherine Clinton presented “The Loss of Lincoln” at the 85th Watchorn Lincoln Dinner on February 12 at the University of Redlands, CA.

Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, presented the keynote address at the Abraham Lincoln Association banquet on February 12.

Ed Steers addressed the Morgan County Fifty-Five Alive group on President’s Day, discussing “Abraham Lincoln, An American Icon.”

On February 12, the George L. Painter Looking for Lincoln Lectures at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, featured presentations by Tom Martin (“Preserving the Mount Pulaski Courthouse”), Wayne C. Temple (“Lincoln’s Springfield/Pittsfield Connection: A Tale of Two Cities”), and Bill Thomas (“Uncovering Connections: The Story of the 1875 Grand Old Style Barbeque on the Grounds of the Atlanta Union Agricultural Society”).

On February 15, Troy Strahan presented “Abraham Lincoln Comes to Kansas” at the Lincoln Club of Topeka.

The Lincoln-Douglas American Inn of Court in Springfield, IL, heard Dr. Wayne C. Temple speak about his book concerning Lincoln and his connections to the City of Pittsfield in Pike County, IL.

On February 16, the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia and the National Archives presented An Evening with the Mt. Rushmore Presidents. Harold Holzer moderated Four Presidents, portrayed by Ron Carnegie (Washington), Bill Barker (Jefferson), Joe Wiegand (Theodore Roosevelt), and George Buss (Abraham Lincoln).

Noah Andre Trudeau discussed his book, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, at the February 21 meeting of the Lincoln Group of New York.

On February 21, the Columbus Bar Association presented Master Class in Law and History: Ulysses S. Grant with an overview of Grant in the Reconstruction era by John F. Marszelek, Executive Director of the Ulysses Grant Association; “The 14th Amendment and Grant” by David Stebenne, Professor of History and Law at the Ohio State University; with the keynote, “Grant as a Hero in Three Acts: Military, Presidential and Personal” by Frank J. Williams; and a panel moderated by Williams, Civil Rights in the Reconstruction Era, which included Marszelek and Stebenne.

On February 24, 2017, Steven Wilson presented a lecture for Lincoln Memorial University’s Health Initiative entitled “Lincoln’s Search for Reason.”

Steven Wilson appeared on the Youtube program Darrin Baird’s East Woodland Survival to talk about the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, in Harrogate, TN, and his newest novel Roosevelt’s Jubilee.

Frank J. Williams presented “Collecting Lincoln” at the the Lincoln Group of Boston at Bridgewater State University on March 4.

On March 16, Frank J. Williams presented “Abraham Lincoln as Mediator” to the Pawtucket (RI) Bar Association.

On March 22, Michael J. Devine, Director Emeritus of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library delivered “Presidential Libraries: An Inside Look” as the 2017 lecturer for the John F. and Jeanne A. Marszalek Library Fund and Lecture Series at the Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University. Stephen Powell also presented “The Simple Art of War: A Reinterpretation of Ulysses S. Grant’s Civil War Strategy.”

Sara Gabbard presented “The Insanity Files: The Ordeal of Mary Todd Lincoln” at the Friends of the Library, Allen County Public Library, Ft. Wayne, IN, on March 26.

On March 28, Steven Wilson spoke at the Farragut, Tennessee Kiwanis’s Club on Politics and the Media.

On April 1, Ed Steers, Jr. spoke to the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum on his book with Kieran McAuliffe, Lincoln Slept Here.

On April 4, Douglas Egerton, co-winner of the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, spoke on his award-winning book Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America” at Hamilton College.

Lincoln interpreter, George Buss, was the featured speaker at the annual meeting of the Lincoln Fellowship of Wisconsin on April 8 in Janesville.

Charles B. Strozier discussed his book Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed to the Lincoln Group of New York on April 17 and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia on April 18.

International Legacy

William D. Pederson discussed “Lincoln’s Legacy Around the World” for the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia on May 16.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, with just days left in his tenure as Secretary General, visited Abraham Lincoln’s tomb at Oakridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL. Ban indicated to the press that “…I’m very much inspired by his leadership… . When people are united, when people promote reconciliation, when we have some social integration, we can build a much stronger, much more peaceful society. He was [a] heroic force of reconciliation… .” Bernard Schoenburg reported the visit of December 21 in the December 22 State Journal Register (Springfield, IL).

The Abraham Lincoln Foundation, Philadelphia, hosted a “Lincoln Day” celebration on February 13. Lincoln interpreter James Hayney delivered Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, with a keynote address by Jeremy Black, Professor of History at the University of Exeter in England.

“The Irony of Confederate Diplomacy: Visions of Empire, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Quest for Nationhood,” by Robert E. May, appeared in the February 2017 Journal of Southern History.

“Abraham Lincoln in European Stamps,” by William D. Pederson, appeared in Americana Philatelic News, January/March 2017.

Becca Milfield, “At Border, Embracing Mexico and U.S. Unity,” was featured in the February 20 issue of the Washington Post. The front page showed a photo of the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge linking Laredo, Texas to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico during the annual George Washington annual celebration.

The Indian Express (Baroda edition) featured an interview with George Saunders on February 12, regarding his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. The novelist states, “Living with Lincoln all these years taught me this: the source of his power was his sadness, his kindness, humility and innate trust in, and empathy for, other human beings. These things are in short supply in our current government.”

Paul Quigley, director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, gave a talk on “The American Civil War and the World” at the Smithsonian Ripley Center on April 4.

Arts & Entertainment

Artist-historian George Stuart has created one of a kind portraits and sculptures of Abraham Lincoln and other historical figures. His Lincoln items include: The Rail Splitter; Ann Rutledge a/k/a “Lincoln’s First Love”; Mary Lincoln; Honest Abe 1858; Stephen A. Douglas a/k/aLittle Giant”; Abraham Lincoln, President 1861 a/k/aThe Liberator”; Mary Lincoln First Lady 1863; President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg 1863; Edwin M. Stanton; Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre; John Wilkes Booth; and Ulysses S. Grant a/k/aUnconditional Surrender.”

The New York Times provided a new virtual-reality experience with Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. It tells the story of our 16th president, driven by grief to pay a nighttime visit to the cemetery in which his beloved son Willie has been laid to rest. This companion film, written and directed by Graham Sack, visualizes Lincoln’s haunting experience and gives voice to the lost souls who populate Saunders’s interesting new novel. One can watch the film on NYT VR APP.


Norman Rockwell’s, Four Freedoms, World War II era paintings inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union address are going on tour. Some feature Abraham Lincoln in the background. They will travel around the United States and France in the exhibition “Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms,” scheduled to open in June 2018 at the New-York Historical Society. The government turned the paintings, which were printed as covers of The Saturday Evening Post in 1943, into posters that helped raise $133 million for the war effort. They are: “Freedom of Speech,” depicting a dignified Everyman standing up to speak his mind; “Freedom of Worship,” with a group in prayer; “Freedom From Want,” with an idyllic family dinner; and “Freedom From Fear,” which shows parents tucking in their children. The tour was organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, which will host the exhibition from June 2019 through August 2019. Other stops after that include the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and the Memorial de Caen in Normandy, France.

Awards and Prizes

Noah Andre Trudeau, author of Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24 – April 8, 1865, received the 2016 Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York.

On February 8, The 55th Annual Barondess/Lincoln Award of the Civil War Round Table of New York was presented to Stephen D. Engle for his Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors!


Jess Bidgood, in his “Gettysburg Journal” that appeared in the January 13 New York Times, featured the auction for the collection of the Hall of Presidents and First Ladies, a 60-year-old wax museum in Gettysburg that has presented every occupant of the Oval Office, Abraham Lincoln, sitting stiffly in his chair, is labeled No. 81. The museum received about 100,000 visitors a year in the 1960s and dropped to about 60,000 visitors a year in 1985. The museum closed in November 2016.


Abraham Lincoln’s tomb at Oak Ridge Cemetery has a new surveillance system that will help protect the 19th-century landmark. The new state-of-the-art surveillance system is a donation from A-1 Corporate Hardware of Springfield and Axis Communication.

The spring Civil War Monitor featured descriptions of “The Best Civil War Museums.” They included: the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center by Michael Weeks; the Lee Chapel and Museum by Len Riedel; the National Museum of Civil War Medicine by Drew Gruber; the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA, by Garry Adelman; and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, IL, by Patrick Brennan. Other museums mentioned are: the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center; the Pamplin Historical Park & the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier; the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum; the Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library, Philadelphia; the Confederate Museum, Charleston, SC; the Battle of Richmond Visitors Center; the Missouri Civil War Museum; the Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, VA, the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and Appomattox.

The sculpture of Abraham Lincoln’s hand that was stolen from the Kankakee County Museum in Illinois was found in a local church. The plaster study by George Grey Barnard was discovered in the St. Rose of Lima Parish in Kankakee.

Books and Pamphlets

Charles B. Strozier is the author of Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed (Columbia University Press).

The New York Times Disunion, edited by Ted Widmer, Clay Risen, and George Kalogerakis, has been published by Oxford. This is the second volume in the Disunion series with a collection of pieces covering the entire history of the Civil War from Lincoln’s election to Appomattox.

Simon & Schuster has published Sidney Blumenthal’s second volume of his biography of Abraham Lincoln, The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln.

George Saunders has written a novel based on the death of William “Willie” Lincoln. Lincoln in the Bardo has been published by Random House.

Mark E. Neely, Jr. is the author of Lincoln and the Democrats: The Politics of Opposition in the Civil War (Cambridge University Press).

Elizabeth Brown Pryor has authored Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and its Demons (Viking).

Mel Ayton is the author of Plotting to Kill the President: Assassination Attempts from Washington to Hoover (Potomac Books).

William C. Harris is the author of Lincoln and Congress (Southern Illinois University) which is a part of the Concise Lincoln Series from the press. The latest in the Concise Lincoln Library series is Brian R. Dirck’s Lincoln in Indiana.

William C. Harris is the author of Two Against Lincoln: Reverdy Johnson and Horatio Seymour, Champions of the Loyal Opposition (University Press of Kansas).

Southern Illinois University Press has published Prairie Defender: The Murder Trials of Abraham Lincoln by George R. Dekle, Sr.

Collateral Books

Williamson Murray and Wayne Wei-Siang Hsieh are the authors of A Savage War: A Military History of the Civil War (Princeton University Press).

Seymore Morris, Jr. is the author of Fit for the Presidency (Potomac).

Matthew E. Stanley is the author of The Loyal West: Civil War and Reunion in Middle America (University of Illinois Press).

Jonathan W. White is the author of Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams During the Civil War (University of North Carolina Press).

Top Ten at Gettysburg, edited by Jay Jorgensen with contributions by Richard Bellemy, the editor, Lawrence Korcyk, Michael Rupert, William ‘Pat’ Schuber, Ralph Siegel, & James Woods (History Attic Books).


“Campaigning for President: The Evolution of the Modern Campaign” by Barbara Bair, Michelle Krowl, and Julie Miller appeared in the January/February Library of Congress Magazine.

Thomas A. Horrocks’s “Promoting Honest Abe, the Rail Splitter: Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies and the Shaping of an Image in 1860” appeared in the February Wide Awake Bulletin of the Lincoln Group of New York.

Sam Anderson wrote “Mt. Rushmore, that Gargantuan Shrine to Democracy, Has Never Felt More Surreal” for the March 26 New York Times Magazine.

The Summer 2016 Lincoln Herald included: “To Save the Republic: Abraham Lincoln and the Honorable Pursuit of a Free Union” by Lawrence Weber; “Lincoln’s Jesse W. Weik, Part 2” by Glenn Tucker; “The Henry Spencer Collection” by Steven Wilson; and “Lincolniana” by Frank J. Williams.

Winter 2016 For the People: A Newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association included Erika Holst’s “The Elizabeth Edwards Papers at the Library of Congress” and John Hoffmann’s “Lincoln Breasting the Winds 1926.”

The fall issue of The Lincoln Herald included an article by Dave Joens celebrating the career of Dr. Wayne Temple who retired from the Illinois State Archives (“Wayne Temple, Dean of Lincoln Scholars, Retires from State Archives”), Wayne C. Temple’s “Lincoln Befriends John Shelby, A Man of ‘Colour,’ and Also Represents his Mother,” and “From the Archives: Abraham Lincoln’s Fourth of July Addresses and his Encounter with Swendeborgians” by Wayne C. Temple.

The winter 2017 Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association included: John Hoffmann’s “Robert Todd Lincoln’s ‘Gettysburg Story”’; Jeremy Prichard’s “‘Home is the Martyr’: The Burial of Abraham Lincoln and the Fate of Illinois’s Capital”; Matthew Norman’s “‘Had Mr. Lincoln Lived’: Alternate Histories, Reconstruction, Race, and Memory”; John Channing Briggs’s review essay of Jared Peatman’s The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address; Martin P. Johnson’s Writing the Gettysburg Address; Carole Emberton’s review essay “Lincoln’s Last Days” discussing John C. Waugh’s Lincoln and the War’s End; and Edward Steers Jr.’s Lincoln’s Assassination.

The March 2017 Journal of the Civil War Era was a special issue, “The Future of Reconstruction Studies.” Kate Masur and Gregory P. Downs served as editors with contributions from the Forum “The Future of Reconstruction Studies” with Luke E. Harlow, W. Fitzhugh Brundage, Gary Gerstle, Thomas C. Holt, Martha S. Jones, Mark A. Noll, Adrienne Petty, Lisa Tetrault, Elliott West, and Kidada E. William and the Roundtable with David M. Prior, Nancy Bercaw, Beverly Bond, Thomas J. Brown, Eric Foner, Jennifer Taylor, and Salamishah Tillet. Brook Thomas wrote “The Unfinished Task of Grounding Reconstruction’s Promise,” Jennifer Whitmer Taylor and Page Putnam Miller contributed “Reconstructing Memory: The Attempt to Designate Beaufort, South Carolina, the National Park Service’s First Reconstruction Unit,” and Hannah Rosen’s “Teaching Race and Reconstruction.”

Burrus Carnahan wrote “Military Commissions: Origins in History” for the winter edition of the Newsletter of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia.

The spring Lincoln Lore included “Abraham Lincoln: Indianan and the West” by Frank J. Williams and “What Indiana Civil Life Likely Taught Young Mr. Lincoln” by Randall T. Shepard. Sara Gabbard, editor of Lincoln Lore, interviewed Douglas L. Wilson and Richard Campanella discussed “Lincoln’s First Flatboat Trip to New Orleans: Resolving an Indiana Mystery.”

William C. (“Jack”) Davis wrote “Confederate Con Artist” for the June Civil War Times.


E. Lawrence Abel, A Finger in Lincoln’s Brain, rev. by Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2017).

Kevin Adams and Leonne M. Hudson, editors, Democracy and the American Civil War: Race and African Americans in the 19th Century, rev. by Michael E. Woods, The Lincoln Herald (Fall 2016).

Sydney Blumenthal, The Political Live of Abraham Lincoln: Wrestling with his Angel 1849-1856, rev. by Louis P. Masur, Civil War Times (June 2017).

Nicholas Buccola, Abraham Lincoln and Liberal Democracy, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War News (March 2017).

Edwina S. Campbell, Citizen of a Wider Commonwealth: Ulysses S. Grant’s Post-Presidential Diplomacy, rev. by Allen Barra, Civil War Times (April 2017).

M. Todd Cathey and Gary W. Waddey, “Forward My Brave Boys!” Tennessee Volunteer Infantry, CSA 1861-1865, rev. by Michael Toomey, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2016).

James B. Conroy, Lincoln’s White House, rev. by Sean A. Scott, Civil War News (April 2017).

Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur, editors, The World the Civil War Made, rev. by Bruce E. Baker, The Journal of Southern History (February 2017).

Don H. Doyle, The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the Civil War, rev. by Patrick J. Kelly, Civil War History (March 2017).

Douglas R. Egerton, Thunder at the Gates: The Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America, rev. by Matthew Carp, The Wall Street Journal (December 10-11, 2016); rev. by Steven Wilson, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2016).

Candice Shy Hooper, Lincoln’s Generals’ Wives: Four Women who Influenced the Civil War – For Better and for Worse, rev. by John Coleman, The Lincoln Herald (fall 2016).

Seymour Morris, Jr. , Fit for the Presidency?: Winners, Losers, What-Ifs, and Also-Rans, rev. by Robert Marry, Wall Street Journal (January 19, 2017).

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

Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and its Demons, rev. by Alice Kessler-Harris, The New York Times (February 12, 2017).

David Riff, In Praise of Forgetting: Historical Memory and its Ironies, rev. by Natalie Sweet, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2016).

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo, rev. by Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal (February 11-12, 2017); rev. by Colson Whitehead, The New York Times Book Review (February 12, 2017); rev. by Christian Lorentzen, New York Magazine (February 6-19, 2017).

Todd Nathan Thompson, The National Joker: Abraham Lincoln and the Politics of Satire, rev. by Thomas Mackie, The Lincoln Herald (Summer 2016).

Noah Andre Trudeau, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed the Presidency, March 24-April 8, 1865, rev. by David J. Kent, The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia Newsletter (Winter).

Ronald C. White, American Ulysses: The Life of Ulysses S. Grant, rev. by Matt Damsker, USA Today (November 16, 2016).


Mark Grimsley wrote about Carl Sandburg, “The Forgotten Bard” for the spring 2017 Civil War Monitor.

Doris Kearns Goodwin was the subject of a three-page illustrated cover story in the November 2016 issue of Long Island Women Magazine. Ms. Goodwin grew up on Long Island in the 1940’s and 50’s. She answered eleven questions, such as “Could Team of Rivals happen today?” She revealed that the subject of her next book will be the leaderships of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and LBJ, from their first elected offices to their presidencies.

Lincoln and Political Culture

The January 23 cartoon by Darko appeared in the Columbia Daily Tribune and the Westerly Sun on January 24, featuring presidents Lincoln, Kennedy, and Trump. The heading “Uplifting Presidential Inaugural Quotes” included Lincoln’s “With Malice Toward None, With Charity for All…”; Kennedy’s “We Shall Pay Any Price, Bear Any Burden, Meet Any Hardship…”; and Trump’s “This Country Is A Dystopian Hellhole!”

Dr. Wayne C. Temple, who has assiduously provided this editor with thousands of contributions for Lincolniana, sent a copy of a broadside with his latest batch. It announces a barbeque on September 22, 1875 by “the colored citizens of Atlanta and vicinity” to celebrate the 12th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The event was held at the Atlanta Union Agricultural Society and Senator Shelby M. Cullom delivered the “Address of the Day.” The Rogers’ Brass Band provided entertainment.

Actor Sam Waterston wrote “The Danger of Trump’s Constant Lying” for the January 30 Washington Post. He quoted Lincoln, “No man has the right to mislead others who have less access to history, and less leisure to study it… thus substituting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and fear argument,” from the Cooper Union Address, 1860. A longtime supporter of election reform and an opponent of partisanship, Waterston believes that “the great issue of today is lying – constant lying in public.” To Waterston, “Trump has lied about climate change and the character and motives of refugees, about how asylum-seekers have been vetted in the past and how many have been able to enter the United States, about immigrants, and a long list of other matters. As with partisanship, the more lying there is, the worse it is. And Trump’s alternative facts have met nasty real-world consequences.” Waterston, who was content to use his influence and experience in show business in a quiet way, believes that this is “an all-hands-on-deck moment.”

Rabbi Marc T. Angel wrote “Remembering Abraham Lincoln: A Blog.” A big fan of Lincoln, he extols Abraham Lincoln even though February 12, Lincoln’s birthday, is not a national holiday. He bemoans “the egalitarianism and multiculturalism” that has reduced the standing of genuine national heroes. But Lincoln is a great man “with a lasting legacy to his country and to the world… . He deserves our thanks for the example he set for America.”

On February 17, C-SPAN released its third historian survey of presidential leadership. Abraham Lincoln retains the top position, followed by George Washington, FDR, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, who moved into the top five for the first time. Ulysses S. Grant, as most average, ranked twenty-two out of forty-three presidents, up from number thirty-three in the first 2000 survey. As in C-SPAN’s first two surveys, released in 2000 & 2009, Abraham Lincoln received top billing among the historians. Former President Barack Obama entered the ranks for the first time in the #12 position.

David Brooks’s column, “Today’s Age of Reason” appeared in the February 28 New York Times. The column has put today’s events in a sweeping historical perspective with the Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant. Enlightenment thinkers turn their skeptical ideas into skeptical institution, notably the U.S. Constitution, “With his distrust of mob rule and his reverence for law, Abraham Lincoln was a classic Enlightenment man. His success in the Civil War seemed to indicate faith in democracy and the entire Enlightenment cause.” …“When anti-Enlightenment movements arose in the past, Enlightenment heroes rose to combat them. Lincoln was no soulless technocrat. He fought fanaticism by doubling down on Enlightenment methods, with charity, reason, and patience. He worked tirelessly for unity over division. He was a hopeful pessimist who knew the struggle would be long but he had faith in providence and ultimate justice.

* * *

We live in a time when many people have lost faith in the Enlightenment habits and institutions. I wonder if there is a group of leaders who will rise up and unabashedly defend this… or even realize that it is this fundamental thing that is now under attack.”

Kate Murphy wrote “The Love Letters of Manly Men” for the March 26 New York Times. She included Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his first fiancé, Mary Owens, which sold at auction for $700,000 in 2002, then the highest price ever paid for a Lincoln letter and still the highest paid for a love letter. This is only one of three that he sent to Owens and reveals the future president’s ambivalence and insecurity. According to manuscript dealers, the winning bids for love letters in recent years tend to correlate with the fame of the writer, rarity, and the condition of the document. Content also counts. For example, a letter from Joe DiMaggio to Marilyn Monroe in 1954, shortly after their divorce was announced, sold at auction for $62,500 in 2014.


John Brooks Davis, 90, passed away on October 29, 2016. He was an active member of the Civil War Round Table (Chicago) and The Lincoln Forum. He served on the Board of Trustees of Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL.

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, Robert F. Henderson, Jr. , Thomas Horrocks, Wayne C. Temple, Edward Steers, Jr. , David J. Stiller, Jo Dzombak, Guy C. Fraker, Malcolm Garber, Mike Marlow, David Warren, 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