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Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia

Earl J. Hess

Publication Year: 2011

Located near Cumberland Gap in the rugged hills of East Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) was founded in 1897 to help disadvantaged Appalachian youth and reward the descendents of Union loyalists in the region. Its founder was former Union General Oliver Otis Howard, a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, who made it his mission to sustain an institution of higher learning in the mountain South that would honor the memory of the Civil War president. In Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia, LMU Professor Earl J. Hess presents a highly readable and compelling history of the school. Yet the book is much more than a chronology of past events. The author uses the institution’s history to look at wider issues in Appalachian scholarship, including race and the modernization of educational methods in Appalachia. LMU offered a work-learn program to help students pay their way, imparting the value of self-help, and it was hit by a massive student strike that nearly wrecked the institution in 1930. LMU has played an important role in shaping what higher learning could be for young people in its region of southern Appalachia. The volume examines the involvement of O. O. Howard and his unflagging efforts to establish and fund the school; the influence of early twentieth-century industrial capitalism— Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were benefactors—on Appalachia and LMU in particular; and the turn-of-the-century cult of Lincoln that made the university a major repository of Lincolniana. Meticulously researched and richly illustrated, Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia is a fresh look at the creation, contributions, and enduring legacies of LMU. Students, alumni, and friends of the university, as well as scholars of Appalachian culture and East Tennessee history, will find this book both enlightening and entertaining.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press


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pp. vii

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pp. xiii-xix

Named as a living memorial to the sixteenth president, Lincoln Memorial University was planted in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, an isolated, mountainous region. Its founding honored a “commission” Lincoln gave Maj. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard during their last meeting in 1863 to serve the needs of mountaineers who had remained loyal to the Union during the Civil War. The university also...

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Chapter 1. A Larger Enterprise

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pp. 1-23

After enjoying lunch, four men moved onto the porch of the Harrow School in Cumberland Gap on June 18, 1896, to have a talk. Oliver Otis Howard had given a lecture on “Grant at Chattanooga” to the assembled students and faculty of the preparatory school that morning. He was visiting Cumberland Gap at the invitation of Arthur A. Myers, founder and director of the Harrow School, while...

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Chapter 2. A Monument to Abraham Lincoln

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pp. 25-43

Howard stayed only one day and a night during his initial visit to Cumberland Gap, but Myers showed him enough of the area to demonstrate its potential. The Four Seasons property, especially the sanitarium, impressed Howard as “ready for school purposes.” He left on June 19 for Chattanooga, but his thoughts turned to Cyrus Kehr and the Chicago lawyer’s idea to name a school after Lincoln....

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Chapter 3. Young Lincolns

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pp. 45-65

John Hale Larry made a good impression as the first live-in president of Lincoln Memorial University. An early student recalled him as “a big man physically, and his manner was wonderfully genial, wonderfully kind, wonderfully lovable. He had a charming voice and a most alluring manner of speaking, so that his talks to the students always seemed to me models of the kind.” Another student thought...

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Chapter 4. Stooksbury’s School

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pp. 67-83

The new president took charge of Lincoln Memorial University on June 1, 1904, and began a period of consolidation and expansion. William L. Stooksbury had solid academic credentials and was “full of youth and energy,” as Howard put it. A visitor to the campus described Stooksbury as “tall, lean, steely of frame, humorous of mouth, unafraid of eye.” To Jesse H. Moore, who began a long...

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Chapter 5. Howard’s Monument

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pp. 85-105

The problems and prospects of Lincoln Memorial University dominated the last years of Oliver Otis Howard’s life, even though advancing age led to periodic health problems that burdened his efforts to raise money for the institution. The only college that had enlisted more of his time and energy had been Howard University. The aging general’s role as managing director and his large friendship...

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Chapter 6. Modernization

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pp. 107-133

George A. Hubbell took the helm at Lincoln Memorial University on July 1, 1910. “I have a genuine interest in that great retarded region,” he informed the Board of Directors. “The interest of the institution will be continually on my mind and heart.” Hubbell impressed many observers over the course of his twelve years as president. “He loved young people and drew them to him by his warm...

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Chapter 7. Strike

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pp. 135-159

Early on the afternoon of April 10, 1930, a group of twenty-five students hauled down the flag from its staff on the quadrangle and carried it into the office of acting president J. H. S. Morison. He was not in at that moment, but the group presented the colors to his secretary. “This flag is a symbol of justice and freedom,” said Clay McCarroll, president of the senior class, “and we don’t want it to float...

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Chapter 8. Crisis and Survival

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pp. 161-182

President H. Robinson Shipherd issued his annual report to the Board of Directors at its meeting on June 2, 1930, characterizing the strike as “a carefully organized conspiracy of teachers, who for reasons more or less selfish exploited the enthusiastic idealism which is conspicuous in this student body.” The breaking of the strike purged the campus “organism of poisonous bacilli which had been...

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Chapter 9. A New Day for Lincoln Memorial

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pp. 183-200

Robert L. Kincaid became executive vice-president of Lincoln Memorial University at commencement time in 1937. His duties included fund raising and “assisting in other ways in the institution’s development.” In effect Kincaid replaced Hill to allow McClelland to devote more time to matters other than soliciting donations. “I am an alumnus of the college,” Kincaid wrote, “and a mountain...

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Chapter 10. The Lincoln Stamp

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pp. 201-224

The many people who contributed to the history of Lincoln Memorial University maintained a commitment to the school’s Lincoln heritage and its original mission into the mid-twentieth century. Robert L. Kincaid played a sterling role in this historic trend. He understood the mission better than any president before or since because he was a living example of the kind of Appalachian youth the...

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pp. 225-238

More than 110 years of service allows us to gauge how well the founders of Lincoln Memorial University accomplished their goals and how well their successors followed through over time to sustain the original aims of the school. At least until the presidency of Robert L. Kincaid ended in 1958, university administrators were highly aware of the consistency evident in the school’s mission...


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pp. 239-295


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pp. 297-313


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pp. 315-319

E-ISBN-13: 9781572338036
E-ISBN-10: 1572338032
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572337527
Print-ISBN-10: 1572337524

Page Count: 340
Illustrations: 44 halftones, 5 maps
Publication Year: 2011