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Lincoln Revisited

New Insights from the Lincoln Forum

Harold Holzer

Publication Year: 2007

In February 2009, America celebrates the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, and the pace of new Lincoln books and articles has already quickened. From his cabinet's politics to his own struggles with depression, Lincoln remains the most written-about story in our history. And each year historians find something new and important to say about the greatest of our Presidents.Lincoln Revisited is a masterly guidePub to what's new and what's noteworthy in this unfolding story-a brilliant gathering of fresh scholarship by the leading Lincoln historians of our time. Brought together by The Lincoln Forum, they tackle uncharted territory and emerging questions; they also take a new look at established debates-including those about their own landmark works.Here, these well-known historians revisit key chapters in Lincoln's legacy-from Matthew Pinsker on Lincoln's private life and Jean Baker on religion and the Lincoln marriage to Geoffrey Perret on Lincoln as leader and Frank J. Williams on Lincoln and civil liberties in wartime.The eighteen original essays explore every corner of Lincoln's world-religion and politics, slavery and sovereignty, presidential leadership and the rule of law, the Second Inaugural Address and the assassination.In his 1947 classic, Lincoln Reconsidered, David Herbert Donald confronted the Lincoln myth. Today, the scholars in Lincoln Revisited give a new generation of students, scholars, and citizens the perspectives vital for understanding the constantly reinterpreted genius of Abraham Lincoln.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. ix-x

The Lincoln Forum is grateful to its hundreds of members for their support, encouragement, input, and energy. No symposium could be managed without their help and enthusiasm, and for ten years the Forum has boasted an abundance of both. Ours is a volunteer organization, with one exception: our...

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pp. xi-xiii

For ten consecutive years, Lincoln scholars and Civil War historians from around the country—together with a growing, and increasingly appreciative, public—have gathered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania each November 16–18 for an annual event called The Lincoln Forum symposium. Scheduled to coincide with the anniversary week of the Gettysburg...

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1. Lincoln’s Political Faith in the Peoria Address

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pp. 1-18

‘‘Little by little, but steadily as man’s march to the grave, we have been giving up the old for the new faith’’—so proclaimed Abraham Lincoln on October 16, 1854, at Peoria, Illinois.1 What did Lincoln mean by this provocative statement? Just what was the ‘‘old’’ faith? And what was the ‘‘new’’ faith? What...

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2. Lincoln’s Political Religion and Religious Politics

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pp. 19-44

In his first debate with Senator Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln observed, ‘‘In this and like communities, public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed. Consequently he who moulds public sentiment, goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces...

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3. Lincoln, Douglas, and Popular Sovereignty: The Mormon Dimension

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pp. 45-56

The famed 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas centered on Douglas’s strident defense of popular sovereignty. Douglas defended the right of citizens of Kansas Territory to vote slavery ‘‘up or down’’ while Lincoln insisted that the Missouri Compromise of 1820 had already settled the issue. To...

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4. The Campaign of 1860: Cooper Union, Mathew Brady, and the Campaign of Words and Images

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pp. 57-67

On Washington’s Birthday 1860—as the annual patriotic parade was forming in the center of Springfield, Illinois, with brass bands marching, children of Revolutionary War veterans celebrating, and banners waving to honor the nation’s first president— the man who would become the nation’s sixteenth president quietly...

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pp. 68-80

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5. ‘‘I See the President’’: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home

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pp. 81-103

‘‘I see the President almost every day,’’ noted poet Walt Whitman in an entry from his wartime journal, dated Wednesday, August 12, 1863. ‘‘I saw him this morning about 81/2 coming in to business.’’ Whitman, who visited the wounded at Union hospitals and lived on L Street in Washington during part of the conflict,...

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6. Varieties of Religious Experience: Abraham and Mary Lincoln

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pp. 105-116

In 1902 William James, younger brother of Henry and Alice James, veteran of the Civil War and student of religion and medicine, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh entitled ‘‘Varieties of Religious Experience.’’ His audience, made up of conservative members of the Church of Scotland, sat...

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7. The Poet and the President: Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman

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pp. 117-131

President Abraham Lincoln had an old friend from Illinois who was good-hearted but not very bright. So this fellow who was not very bright got elected to Congress. And soon after arriving in Washington he paid Lincoln a surprise visit in his office at the White House. There was always a mob of people waiting to see Lincoln, but...

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8. 1862—A Year of Decision for President Lincoln and General Halleck

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pp. 133-145

Abraham Lincoln was president of the United States, and Henry W. Halleck was commanding general of the nation’s army during the gravest domestic crisis in American history. On their shoulders rested the decisions that would be instrumental in determining whether the nation would remain whole or be splintered...

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9. ‘‘I Felt It to Be My Duty to Refuse’’: The President and the Slave Trader

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pp. 147-168

The new president in March of 1861 would find in the same paragraph of the Constitution that that made him Commander in Chief this rather surprisingly unqualified, unchecked, quite explicit grant: ‘‘He shall have the Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States.’’ This new president...

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10. Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant

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pp. 169-180

When Judge Williams asked me to compare public perceptions of the Lincoln and Grant presidencies, I am afraid I accepted too quickly, and I have been at a loss as to what to write. Having just looked over what I prepared, I am afraid I resolved my uncertainty by writing nothing. This will take approximately twelve...

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11. Motivating Men: Lincoln, Grant, MacArthur, and Kennedy

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pp. 181-194

When Frank Williams asked me to write about Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, and John F. Kennedy, I wondered, is it possible to tie them together? The one thing they had in common was leadership, obviously, but there had to be something more, something else. I’ve written a biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower, but he isn’t included. So what was I missing...

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12. Lincoln and His Admirals

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pp. 195-213

In 1952, T. Harry Williams published a book that has since become a classic in Civil War military history, and which remains in print to this day. It is titled Lincoln and His Generals, and in it Williams posits that Abraham Lincoln was, in his words, ‘‘a great natural strategist, a better one than any of his generals.’’ Those...

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13. After Emancipation: Abraham Lincoln’s Black Dream

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pp. 215-230

More than 140 years ago at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln helped bury thousands of soldiers—and the Constitution as it was. By invoking the framers of the Declaration of Independence rather than the framers of the Constitution at his Gettysburg Address, and by declaring a ‘‘New Birth of Freedom,’’ Lincoln, in a...

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14. The Second Inaugural Address: The Spoken Words

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pp. 231-249

I am honored to be part of The Lincoln Forum and convene a conversation about the text of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural—both the meaning of Lincoln’s words and the skill of his artistry with words. For a while now, I have been asking Americans in different parts of the country to recall their thoughts and feelings...

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15. Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties: Then and Now

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pp. 251-278

Recent acts of terrorism have yet again raised tensions between American security and civil liberty. The forces of both Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein have created a heightened awareness of, and increased desire for, national security. This is not the first time. President George W. Bush is treading the same waters...

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16. After Lincoln’s Reelection: Foreign Complications

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pp. 279-295

Until recently, historians like James G. Randall and Allan Nevins have written that the presidential election of 1864 was significant only because it demonstrated the strength of democratic institutions in the midst of a gigantic rebellion. They claimed that the results of the war would have been the same had George...

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17. Henry Adams on Lincoln

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pp. 297-310

Henry Adams rarely referred to Abraham Lincoln in his public writings, and then equivocally. He was in Rome when news reached him of the president’s assassination, and his attitude was distant, hardly grief-stricken. He advised a friend to take with equanimity the fact that the nation’s enemies did not express...

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18. Lincoln’s Assassination and John Wilkes Booth’s Confederate Connection

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pp. 311-325

On reading the news of Abraham Lincoln’s death, a young South Carolina girl wrote in her diary, ‘‘Hurrah! Old Abe Lincoln has been assassinated! . . . our hated enemy has met the just reward of his life.’’1 While these words clearly reflect the sentiment of the young girl, we are told they represent a misguided view....


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pp. 327-364


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pp. 365-369

The Lincoln Forum

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pp. 370

E-ISBN-13: 9780823247257
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823227365
Print-ISBN-10: 0823227367

Page Count: 384
Publication Year: 2007

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1861-1865.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, -- 1809-1865 -- Military leadership.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, -- 1809-1865 -- Political and social views.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
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