SPRING 2018 LINCOLNIANA BY FRANK J. WILLIAMS
The Spoken Word and Group Activities
The University of Illinois, Springfield, invited panelists Michael Burlingame, Graham Peck, and Roger Bridges to discuss “Lincoln vs. Douglas” on October 18, 2018 as part of the 2018 Lincoln Legacy Lecture Series.
The Abraham Lincoln Library & Museum of Lincoln Memorial University hosted Thomas Kidd, Terrie Aamodt, and Luke Harlow as panelists for the 2018 Lincoln Symposium and Dr. Robert L. Kincaid Lecture, “Faith in Lincoln’s America” on November 16, 2018.
The Massachusetts Historical Society presented Jonathan D. Sarna to discuss “Lincoln and the Jews: A History” on January 11. On January 24, David Blight discussed writing Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
C-SPAN re-broadcast The Lincoln Forum panel, “Lincoln in the Grant Memoirs” with Craig L. Symonds and John F. Marszalek on January 26 and 27. “Civil War Ex-Confederates and Post-Civil War Pardons” with Frank J. Williams aired on January 27, and other Forum lectures received encores as well.
History Miami’s 10th Annual Presidential Symposium, “Presidential Power and Immigration Policy: America’s Uncivil War – From Lincoln to Today” was held on January 27 with Harold Holzer moderating a panel discussion with Tracy D. Guzman, Maria A. Rodrigues, Alex Stepick, and Frank J. Williams.
On January 27, Frank J. Williams presented a paper on Abraham Lincoln at the Babcock-Smith House Museum, Westerly, RI on February 10.
Brian Dirck discussed “Last Full Measure: Lincoln and the Battlefield Dead” at the Benjamin P. Thomas Symposium, Springfield, on February 11. Other symposium speakers included Ron Keller discussing his book, Lincoln in the Illinois Legislature, and Matthew Pinsker discussing his next book, Boss Lincoln: New Insights on a Party Leader.
Dan Abrams, co-author of Lincoln’s Last Trail: The Murder Case that Propelled him to the Presidency, was the banquet speaker for the Abraham Lincoln Association in Springfield on February 12.
For the Thomas F. Schwartz Luncheon and Lecture in Springfield on February 12, Nicholas J. C. Pistor discussed his book, Shooting Lincoln: Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and the Race to Photograph the Story of the Century.
The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia heard Kate Masur speak about editing and reprinting the work of John Washington, They Knew Lincoln, on February 12.
On February 12, Caroline Janney, Director of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, spoke at the 87th Watchorn Lincoln Memorial Association Dinner, on “Surrender in the Wake of Lincoln’s Assassination.” She also delivered the John F. and Jeanne A. Marszalek Library Fund and Lecture at Mississippi State University on March 7, on “Enduring Civil War Battles: How the War Generation hoped We’d Remember the War.”
Harold Holzer delivered the annual President Bill Clinton Lecture at the New-York Historical Society on February 12 on “The Lincoln Legacy.” Earlier that same stormy day in Manhattan, Holzer presented “Monument Man: Daniel Chester French” at the Century Association, the writer’s and artist’s club to which the sculptor himself belonged from 1894 to his death in 1931.
On February 23, David Kelly discussed the Trent Affair before the Lincoln Group of Boston.
On February 26, Frank J. Williams presented “Reconstruction: What Went Wrong?” at the Old Capitol Museum, Jackson, Mississippi, at an event co-sponsored by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Humanities Council.
On February 28, the National Archives and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia co-hosted Harold Holzer and Edna Greene Medford for a program on Holzer’s new book, Monument Man: The Life and Art of Daniel Chester French. Holzer also spoke about his book at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington (MA), on March 5. Holzer also presented on Monument Man at the Concord (MA) Museum (March 6); at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop and Chicago Civil War Round Table (March 21); The Union League of Philadelphia (March 27); The Metropolitan Museum on April 18; Williams College on April 29, and the Brattleboro (VT) Library on May 1.
George Buss, as Abraham Lincoln, appeared at the Mariners’ Museum and Park, Newport News, VA, on March 9.
Niall O’Dowd presented “The Untold Story of how the Irish helped Abraham Lincoln save the Union” at the Civil War Round Table of New York on March 11.
Holzer and his frequent partner, distinguished New York Rabbi Meir Soloveichik, spoke together on Spielberg’s Lincoln at Roosevelt House on March 11, and on Jews in the Civil War at Yeshiva University on April 7.
On March 16, the Abraham Lincoln Symposium at Ford’s Theatre featured speaker Nina Silber on “‘A Passionate Addition’ to Lincoln: Remember ‘Honest Abe’ in New Deal America;” Richard Carwardine on “Lincoln’s Sense of Humor: A Double-Edge Sword,” David Blight on “Lincoln and Frederick Douglass,” and James Tackach on “Lincoln and the Natural Environment.”
James Conroy spoke about “Our One Common Country: Abraham Lincoln and the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of 1865” at the April 13 meeting of the Lincoln Group of Boston.
Harold Holzer discussed his new book, Monument Man, about Daniel Chester French, at the April 22 meeting of The Lincoln Group of New York.
Friends of the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne hosted “Meet Harriet Tubman,” presented by Kathryn Harris on April 28. Thomas D. Mackie, Jr., presented “President Lincoln’s Shrines & Circuses” about how Lincoln commemoration shaped the American museum movement on February 24 and on November 17, 2018, Brian Dirck presented “This Hallowed Ground: Abraham Lincoln and the Battlefield Dead.”
Ed Ayers spoke about his book, The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, at the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College summer conference on June 16.
The International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport has released a 24-page booklet outlining its major programs: Annual Constitutional Democracy Lecture Series; Annual Abraham Lincoln Lecture Series; Annual Washington, DC semester; Triennial Deep South Series; Annual Conference Abroad; and its International Lincoln Collection.
William D. Pederson was the recipient of two awards at LSU Shreveport: The 2018 Chancellor’s Distinguished Achievement Award and the Outstanding Faculty Award for 2018-2019.
William S. Kiser’s “We Must Have Chinua and Sonora’: U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” appeared in the June issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era, as well as Patrick J. Kelly’s, “The Lost Continent of Abraham Lincoln.”
William D. Pederson’s “Shreveport’s International Lincoln Center: ‘Getting Right’ with the Great Emancipator” appeared in the Winter/Spring issue of North Louisiana History.
The City of Lincoln, Argentina (population 35,000) unveiled Frank Porco’s bronze bust of Lincoln in town square outside its city hall on April 15. This sculpture was donated by The Lincoln Forum.
While attending that ceremony in Lincoln, William Pederson met with the city’s best-known theater teacher, actor and film director, Raul Gustavo Chemes, who took him to local sites where his most recent film, “Fresh Air,” was shot. The Robinson Film Center in Shreveport is planning to show the film in early 2020.
The Forum on Contemporary Theory, Baroda, India, will hold its 22nd International Conference on “Global South Cultural Production and Dialogue” at the Osmania University Centre for International Programs in Hyderabad on December 19-21. It is co-sponsored by the International Lincoln Center at LSU Shreveport. The program includes a panel on Abraham Lincoln’s Abroad with Piyush Raval (Sardar Patel Univerity, India) and William D. Pederson on “Lincoln Eulogies: Walt Whitman and Mahatma Gandhi,” Harshil Shah (M.S. University of Baroda) on “Lincoln in Jamaica,” and Tyson Lee (LSU Shreveport) on “Lincoln in Togo.”
William D. Pederson’s “Lincoln Stamps in the Middle East, Pt. 2” appeared in Americana Philatelic News (Jan./Mar.), and “Lincoln’s Philatelic Legacy in Africa,” (Apr./June).
The Annual International Conference of the Association of Global South Studies will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina on December 15-17. For the first time in its history, the AGSS will feature two panels on Lincoln’s legacy abroad. The first, on Lincoln in the Global South with Tyler Maisel (LSUS) “Lincoln in Guatemala;” Glen Fayard (LSUS) “Lincoln in Bolivia;” Tomas Gil (LSUS) “Lincoln in Argentina;” William D. Pederson (LSUS) “Lincoln in Asia and the Americas: Ending Colonialism.” The second panel will feature Michael R. Hall (Georgia Southern University) “Lincoln in the Dominican Republic;” Jose da Cruz (Georgia Southern University) “Lincoln in Brazil;” and Patricia Moral (Lincoln, Argentina) “Lincoln in Paraguay.”
Piyush Raval (Sardar Patel University, India) was a visiting professor at the International Lincoln Center from May-June. He delivered a lecture on Gandhi during the LSUS 26th Annual Washington Semester in May, and a lecture on “Contemporary India Politics” on June 6 at LSUS.
Jason H. Silverman (Winthrop University) will deliver the 36th Annual Constitutional Democracy Lecture at LSU Shreveport on September 16. The topic is “Was Lincoln Right? Democracy, The Constitution, and Citizenship.”
Michael R. Hall (Georgia Southern University) will deliver the 36th Annual Frank and Virginia Williams Lincoln Lecture at LSU Shreveport on October 7. His topic is “Lincoln’s Legacy in the Caribbean.”
The University of Illinois Springfield Chancellor Susan J. Koch, narrated Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait for the Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s performance on October 18, 2018.
The Lincoln Heritage Museum at Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL, presented “Young America: Lincoln and Intellect” from February 13 to December 14, 2019.
Awards and Prizes
The Lincoln the Lawyer Award was presented to Floyd Abrams, constitutional attorney and First Amendment advocate, by the Abraham Lincoln Association on February 12.
Thomas D. Mackie, Jr., former Director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum of Lincoln Memorial University received the Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize from the Abraham Lincoln Association on February 11.
Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced the finalists for the 2019 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize: Richard J. M. Blackett, The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, The 1850 Fugitive Slave Law and the Politics of Slavery; David Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom; William W. Freehling, Becoming Lincoln; Joanne B. Freeman, The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War; and Diane Miller Sommerville, Aberration of Mind: Suicide and Suffering in the Civil War-Era South. On April 16, the prize was awarded to David Blight at The Union League Club in New York. He also received the Pulitzer Prize in History and the Bancroft Prize from Columbia University.
The Barondess Lincoln Award presented by the Civil War Round Table of New York went to Dan Abrams and David Fisher for their Lincoln’s Last Trial.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation awarded its Lincoln Leadership Prize to the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. The prize is presented annually in Chicago and recognizes outstanding individuals for a lifetime of service in the spirit of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Previous award recipients include former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
The Abraham Lincoln Book Shop has published its Catalog 181.
Michelle Krowl, Civil War and Reconstruction Specialist, Manuscript Division, at the Library of Congress is asking volunteers to assist by transcribing, tagging, and reviewing items from the Library’s collections to improve searching. Crowd.loc.gov enables the Library of Congress to reach virtual volunteers worldwide. The site contains contextual resources including timelines. The mission is to have these transcriptions become part of a word-searchable Abraham Lincoln Papers online in time to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on February 12, 2019.
The Gideon Welles Papers are now available at the Library of Congress online. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/collmss.msoooo78.
Leon Reed wrote “New York State Militia/Hiram Roosa’s Collection” for the February Civil War News.
The animatronic Abraham Lincoln, “Reflections of the Face of Lincoln” from Garner Holt Productions, continued its presentation through March 31 at The Lincoln Shrine, Redlands, CA.
The spring For the People: A Newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association included Erika Holst’s “Stupendous Discovery of Unknown Lincoln Drawing” about a drawing in Lincoln’s hand of the Pleasant Plains, Illinois drug store where Greek Crafton was fatally stabbed, resulting in the case of People v. Harrison. Abraham Lincoln represented Peachy Quinn Harrison in his murder trial. Also, in this issue was Terry Alford’s “What did Booth Say at Lincoln’s April 11, 1865, Speech?”
The Battle of Atlanta Cyclorama opened after four years of restoration as reported in the April Civil War News. It took four years and $35.8 million to restore and relocate the 360-degree painting now at the Atlanta History Center.
The Lincoln-Herndon Law Office building reopened in October 2018 with a new Visitor’s Center on the first floor.
Books and Pamphlets
The creator of the seated figure in the Lincoln Memorial, Daniel Chester French, is the subject of Harold Holzer’s Monument Man (Princeton Architectural Press).
Each year Mississippi State University provides incoming freshmen with a short monograph to assist in their studies in Mississippi state culture. The 2019 volume is Hold on with a Bulldog Grip: A Short Study of Ulysses S. Grant by John F. Marszalek, David S. Nolen, Louie P. Gallo, and Frank J. Williams, with an afterword by MSU President Mark K. Keenum. The volume features two chapters relating to Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.
Douglas Waller is the author of Lincoln’s Spies: Their Secret War to Save a Nation (Simon & Schuster).
Lincoln’s Confidant: The Life of Noah Brooks by Wayne C. Temple, edited by Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, has been published by the University of Illinois Press.
Brian R. Dirck has written The Black Heavens: Abraham Lincoln and Death for Southern Illinois University.
Brian Lamb, founder of C-SPAN, Susan Swain, and C-SPAN have edited the latest C-SPAN ranking of The Presidents (PublicAffairs).
Jared Peatman’s The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address has been published in paper by Southern Illinois University Press.
James Singer is the author of The War Criminal’s Son: The Civil War Saga of William A. Winder (Potomac Books).
Oxford University Press has published Elizabeth’s R. Varon’s Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War.
Stephen Davis wrote “‘Transcends the Bounds of Sober Belief’: American Photography before the Civil War” for the March Civil War News.
James M. Cornelius wrote “Lincoln and Douglas – in London” for the fall-winter 2018 For the People, A Newsletter of the Abraham Lincoln Association. Joshua A. Claybourn, in the same issue, wrote “Abe Lincoln: An Acceptable Nickname?”
Eric Woods wrote “The Mysteries of Abraham Lincoln” for SO (Springfield’s Own Magazine).
The winter 2018 Lincoln Lore included “The Debate over the Debates: The Historians Weigh In,” moderated by Harold Holzer with Frank J. Williams, Edna Greene Medford, and Douglas L. Wilson. In the same issue, E. Phelps Gay wrote Lincoln and the South and Jason H. Silverman wrote “‘One War at a Time’: Abraham Lincoln and the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America.”
The winter 2018 issue of The Civil War Monitor contained some of the “Letters to Julia” ( U.S. Grant’s letters to his wife) edited by Derick Schilling.
The Fall 2017 Lincoln Herald included: “The Short and Tortured History of Abraham Lincoln’s Act to Encourage Immigration” by Jason H. Silverman; “Sheridan, the Life of a General Part II” by Joseph E. Suppiger; “Did Abraham Lincoln Have a Female Cabinet Member?” by Jason H. Silverman; and, “One Man, Two Wars, and a Sunday in June” by Steven M. Wilson. The Winter 2017 issueincluded Adam L. Taliaferro’s “Lincoln & Clausewitz: An Examination of Lincoln’s Military Strategy as Compared to the Great Military Theorist;” Catherine McCarthy’s “Carl Sandburg: The Lincoln Years;” Jason H. Silverman’s “The Uses and Abuses of Abraham Lincoln Finding Lincoln in the Most Unusual and Controversial Places;” and Frank J. Williams’s “Lincolniana.”
Julie Roy Jeffrey’s “‘They Cannot Expect…That a Loyal People will Tolerate the Utterance of Such Sentiments’: The Campaign against Treasonous Speech during the Civil War” appeared in the March Civil War History.
The Spring Lincoln Lore included editor Sara Gabbard’s interview with John Marszalek on Henry Clay, Lincoln’s “Beau Ideal;” Allen Guelzo’s “‘Just the Wood out of which Washington Presidents are Carved’: Electing Lincoln in 1860;” and Jason H. Silverman’s “The Saga of Captain Horatio G. ‘Harry’ Cooke.” Craig Klugman also interviewed George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Sara Gabbard interviewed Alfred J. Zacher, author of Trial and Triumph: Presidential Power in the Second Term.
The May issue of The Journal of Southern History contained “Southern History in Periodicals, 2018: A Selected Bibliography.”
Mark Grimsley contributed “The Impact of the Lost Order” (General Robert E. Lee’s Special Orders No. 191), discussing the placement of Confederate units in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 which led to the Battle of Antietam. It appeared in the summer issue of The Civil War Monitor. Also, in this issue was Andrew F. Lang’s “The Perils of Occupation.”
Edward L. Ayers, The Thin Light of Freedom: Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America, rev. by Daniel W. Crofts, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017).
John Bicknell, Lincoln’s Pathfinder: John C. Fremont and the Violent Election of 1856, rev. by Stephen D. Engle, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017).
David W. Blight, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, rev. by Randall Kennedy, The Atlantic (December 2018).
Michael Burlingame, editor, Sixteenth President-In-Waiting: Abraham Lincoln and the Springfield Dispatches of Henry Villard, 1860-1861, rev. by Jonathan W. White, The Lincoln Herald (Winter 2017).
Richard Carwardine, Lincoln’s Sense of Humor, rev. by Elliot Kalan, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019); rev. by Scott M. Shubitz, The Journal of Southern History (May 2019).
Ron Chernow, Grant, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017).
George R. Dekle, Sr., Abraham Lincoln’s Most Famous Case: The Almanac Trial, rev. by Mark E. Steiner, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019).
Andrew Delbanco, The War Before the War, rev. by Jennifer Szalai, The Dispatch (The Civil War Roundtable of New York) (March 2019).
D. H. Dilbeck, A More Civil War: How the Union Waged a Just War, rev. by Burrus Carnahan, Civil War Book Review (Fall 2017).
Hugh Dubrulle, Ambivalent Nation: How Britain Imagined the American Civil War, rev. by Katelyn Brown, Civil War News (March 2019).
William W. Freehling, Becoming Lincoln, rev. by Daniel W. Cross, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2019); rev. by David S. Reynolds, The Wall Street Journal (February 16-17, 2019).
Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership in Turbulent Times, rev. by David J. Kent, Civil War Times (April 2019).
Ulysses S. Grant, with an Introduction by Ron Chernow, My Dearest Julia: The Wartime Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to his Wife, rev. by Melissa A. Winn, Civil War Times (April 2019).
Stanley Harrold, Lincoln and the Abolitionists, rev. by Jason H. Silverman, The Lincoln Herald (Fall 2017).
William C. Harris, Lincoln and Congress, rev by Peter Charles Hoffer, Civil War History (December 2018).
Anna Gibson Holloway and Jonathan W. White, “Our Little Monitor”: The Greatest Invention of the Civil War, rev. by Joan Wenner, Civil War News (March 2019).
Michael F. Holt, The Election of 1860: A Campaign Fraught with Consequences, rev. by Michael Robinson, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2018).
George Kateb, Lincoln’s Political Thought, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019
Lewis E. Lehrman, Lincoln & Churchill: Statesmen at War, rev. by Joseph Edward Lee, The Lincoln Herald (Winter 2017).
Andrew E. Maisich, Civil War in Southwest Borderlands, 1861-1867, rev. by, Lance R. Blyth, Journal of the Civil War Era (June 2019).
John F. Marszalek, Lincoln and the Military, rev. by Mark A. Smith, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019).
Brian McGinty, Lincoln’s Greatest Case: The River, the Bridge, and the Making of America, rev. by Mark E. Steiner, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019).
Edna Greene Medford, Lincoln and Emancipation, rev. by Jason H. Silverman, The Lincoln Herald (Fall 2017); rev. by Mark A. Smith, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019).
Wesley Moody, editor, Seven Myths of the Civil War, rev. by Justin Vance, The Journal of Southern History (February 2019).
Niall O’Dowd, Lincoln and the Irish, rev. by David J. Kent, The Lincolnian (The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia) Volume XXXV, Number Four.
James A. Rawley, A Lincoln Dialogue, rev. by John A. Lupton, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (Winter 2019).
Randolph Paul Runyon, The Mentelles: Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Clay, and the Immigrant Family who Educated Antebellum, Kentucky, rev. by Mark A. Neels, The Journal of Southern History (May 2019).
Chrisian G. Samito, Lincoln and the Thirteenth Amendment, rev. by Jason H. Silverman, The Lincoln Herald (Fall 2017).
Walter Stahr, Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary, rev. by Frank J. Williams, Civil War Book Review (Winter 2018).
Whitney Nell Stewart and John Garrison Marks, editors, Race and Nation in the Age of Emancipations, rev. by Brandon R. Byrd, The Journal of Southern History (May 2019).
Larry Tagg, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President, rev. by David J. Kent, The Lincolnian (The Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia) Volume XXXV, Number Four.
Troy Gilmore is the new superintendent of Springfield’s historic sites, which include the Lincoln Tomb, the War Memorials in Oak Ridge Cemetery, the Old State Capitol, the Vachel Lindsay Home, the Dana-Thomas House, and the Lincoln-Herndon Law Office.
Lincoln and Political Culture
As the debate continues in the United States about what to do with Confederate monuments, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors has voted against a proposal to build a $5.3 million museum on the UNC Chapel Hill Campus that would house the Confederate soldier, known as “Silent Sam.” “Silent Sam” was toppled by protesters in August 2018.
Trump 2020 campaign advisor Katrina Pierson dismissed a question about diversity within President Trump’s administration by asking how many black people worked in former President Lincoln’s administration. “I’m not going to participate in the attempt to make this all about race. It’s ridiculous,” Pierson, who is African-American, said during an appearance on MSNBC.
The December 1, Politico Magazine featured “Beto has a path to the presidency: Lincoln’s.” Beto O’Rourke has not compared himself to Abraham Lincoln outright, but that hasn’t stopped others from noting some similarities as they muse about his presidential aspirations. O’Rourke lost his bid for the U.S. Senate to Republican Ted Cruz in red Texas, but his fundraising skills, organizational reach, and ability to attract throngs of volunteers have vaulted him into the national conversation about who the Democrats should nominate in 2020. But to have Lincoln’s luck, he must have a “withering focus, burning ambition, and considerable political skills.” He should follow the script of the 16th president. Like Lincoln, O’Rourke is charismatic, tall, lanky, filled with energy, an accomplished public speaker, and a natural campaigner. Like Lincoln, O’Rourke is a can-do underdog with an ability to command an audience “But if Beto is channeling Abe, as his post-campaign jog up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial suggests, he might do well to study the Great Emancipator’s nominating strategy. For in 1858, as in 2018 (as Lincoln knew), it’s one thing to be in the nation conversation and another thing to stay in it.” See Mark Perry’s article for December 1, 2018 in Politico.
The March 30-31 edition of the Wall Street Journal included Dennis Montagna’s “A Different Kind of Civil War Memorial,” in which he discussed the newly-restored and cleaned Ulysses S. Grant Memorial on the west side of the United State Capitol. While honoring Grant as a hero, it symbolized the nation’s new prominence on the world stage at the dawn of the 20th century.
The September 28, 2018 State Journal-Register editorial asked for a state hearing for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation which, among other items, knew about but did not publicly share, that historians had raised doubts about the authenticity of a stovepipe hat purportedly owned by Abraham Lincoln. Periodically on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum it was valued at $6.5 million and was supposedly given by Lincoln to an Illinois farmer. It was the jewel of the Louise and Barry Taper Collection which included more than 1,400 items. The Foundation bought the collection in 2007 for $25 million. The Foundation borrowed $23 million to purchase the Taper Collection. The hat was initially appraised in 1988 for $15,000, but in 2007 the value had increased to $6.5 million. To erase doubts about the hat and ensure credibility of the Foundation as well as the library and collection, there should be a hearing, opine the editors.
Controversy abounds at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, with Andrew Ferguson’s “Abraham Lincoln’s $6 million Hat” appearing in the Atlantic. The story is pretty well known. Two years after the museum opened in 2005, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation borrowed $25 million to buy the Taper Collection. Among the 1,400 items in the Collection were Lincoln’s billfold and his eyeglasses, his pen and gloves he wore to Ford’s Theatre. In the Treasures Gallery, there was a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, one of five copies of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s hand, and of course the hat. The problem is that there is now no clear provenance that it, in fact, belonged to Abraham Lincoln, a claim complicated by different stories about the hat’s origins. The hat had passed down through a family of farmers from Illinois and wound up in the collection of James Hickey in 1958. Jim Hickey was the state’s official historian. An affidavit written by the original owner’s daughter-in-law said that Lincoln had given the hat to her father-in-law when he visited Lincoln in Washington in 1861. In 1990, Hickey sold the hat to Louise Taper who occasionally lent it out to special Lincoln exhibits. But then Hickey’s successor was describing the hat as one Lincoln had worn “during the Civil War.” In 2012, five years after the state had bought the hat as part of the Taper Collection; another historian for the Lincoln Library offered another version. He said that Lincoln probably had given the hat to the downstate farmer at one of the Lincoln-Douglass debates in 1858. A secret effort begun in 2013 to authenticate the hat failed and two historians, one from the Smithsonian and another from the Chicago History Museum, opined that “the current documentation,” the historians concluded, “is insufficient to claim that the hat formerly belonged to President Abraham Lincoln.” They recommended that the museum remove the hat from display until further research could establish its authenticity. As it happened, the hat was off display as museum officials indicated that more research was already underway to authenticate the hat. “Meanwhile, the foundation is struggling to pay off the roughly $9 million remaining on the original loan which comes due in October 2019.” The Taper Collection is the loan’s collateral and would be forfeited with a failure to pay, an auction would be held, and the Collection would scatter. In Illinois, many have coined the word, “hinky” to describe the irregularities. This is how they described the way official business is conducted in the state – sometimes appalling, sometimes amusing.
Peggy Noonan, journalist and sometime presidential speech writer for George H. W. Bush, has always been a Lincoln student. She quotes Lincoln in her essay “Republicans in a Nation Needing Repair” for the May 4-5 issue of The Wall Street Journal: “As the cause is new so we must think anew, and act anew.” She cited this to answer members of the Republican Party who want to return to the conservatism of smaller government with tax cuts and reduced spending. She does not see the federal government becoming smaller or less expensive. She sees the future of the Republican Party concentrating on family issues, teaching the boys of the working and middle classes, resolving the mental-health crisis, helping immigrants become Americans, revitalizing small towns and protecting religious freedom. She ends with: “When you think like this–we are in a crisis, it will get worse, we must accentuate what holds us together and helps us muddle through–it helps you prioritize. These are my priorities as a conservative.”
Cameron McWhirter wrote, on May 25 for the Wall Street Journal, “Civil War Battlefields Lose Ground as Tourist Draws.” The author asks, “Is Civil War tourism history?” The National Park Service’s five major Civil War battlefield parks–Gettysburg, Antietam, Shiloh, Chickamauga/Chattanooga, and Vicksburg, had a combined total of 3.1 million visitors in 2018, down from 10.2 million in 1970.
Some museums are working to draw a broader audience–younger visitors as well as more minorities and women–by telling a more complete story about the conflict. The new American Civil War Museum opened recently in Richmond with expansive exhibits, featuring not only battles and generals, but also information on slavery and the war’s impact on civilians. The new museum was born from the merger six years ago of two Richmond museums, one of which was the Museum of the Confederacy.
Reverend Dr. Duncan Newcomer’s “Lincolns Great Gift to Social Policy was Heart” appeared on the May 14 PenBay Pilot web. Quoting Lincoln, “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him you are his sincere friend.” This was one of Lincoln’s great characteristics and his great gift to social policy was heart. “America was a moral place.” “A moral do-no-harm response to the opioid crisis could guide our response.” Lincoln, to the author, is the guidepost to dealing with addiction by not blaming “addicts” as sinners that is those in need of hope, support, and recovery.
Works in Progress
Every Drop of Blood, a new book on President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and the characters surrounding it, by Edward Achorn, will be published by Grove in March 2020.
Paul J. Beaver, Jr., longtime professor and curator of the Lincoln Collection at Lincoln College, Lincoln, IL, died on February 26, 2019. He was 82.
Tony Horwitz, who explored the Civil War in Confederates in the Attic and was known for immersing himself in his subjects, died at 60 on May 17.
For this, my last Lincolniana, I want to thank the following and all those who have provided Lincoln news for the last twenty years:
Florence J. Baur, Randal Berry, Roger Billings, Kenneth L. Childs, James M. Cornelius, Aaron Crawford, Judges W. Dennis Duggan and Dennis Curran, Jo Dzombak, Joseph Fornieri, Sybil and Bill Forsythe, Guy C. Fraker, Malcolm Garber, Mike Gross, Robert F. Henderson, Harold Holzer, Thomas Horrocks, Tom Lapsley, Dave Leroy, Mike Marlow, John Marszalek, Ralph S. McCrea, William K. Miller, Larry Morris, Frank and Virginia Musgrave, William D. Pederson, Benjamin A. Pushner, Justice William P. Robinson III, Edward Steers, Jr., David J. Stiller, John Schildt, Richard Sloan, Philip W. Stichter, Wayne C. Temple, Thomas J. Trimborn, David Warren, and Virginia Williams for providing information for this column.
Please send information about Abraham Lincoln to my successor Thomas Horracks, 11A Brewer Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 (Thomashorrocks@gmail.com).