“Had Mr. Lincoln Lived”: Alternate Histories, Reconstruction, Race, and Memory

Imagining what might have happened is natural. In reflecting on the legacy of the American Civil War, Robert Penn Warren observed that the war “is our only ‘felt’ history—history lived in the national imagination.” The problem, as Warren noted and historians have further explored, is that Americans have never felt the same way about the[…]

“Home Is the Martyr”: The Burial of Abraham Lincoln and the Fate of Illinois’s Capital

Many questions linger regarding the process and motivations of Lincoln’s burial in Springfield. By Dr. Jeremy PrichardHistorian, 19th Airlift WingLittle Rock Air Force BaseUnited States Air Force Introduction Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and burial have attracted broad interest from both professional and novice historians alike.[1] Authors of books and articles still find new ways of probing[…]

Evangelical Religion and Evangelical Democracy in the 19th Century

The problem with mixing religion and politics was that political issues became moral issues and, therefore, more difficult to deal with in the political process. Evangelical religion and evangelical democracy reinforced each other in nineteenth-century America. The spread of evangelical Christianity and democracy across a continent justified the wars against Native Americans and Mexico, and[…]

Completing the Work of the Framers: Lincoln’s Constitutional Legacy

Lincoln deserves far more credit than he has received as an architect of American constitutional law. Introduction When we think of the architects of our constitutional order, we naturally think of the Founding Fathers. In particular, we think of James Madison, the “father of the Constitution.” Madison and his colleagues at the Philadelphia Convention drafted[…]

The Election of 1864 and the Importance of Founding Intent

The founders were an essential political and cultural touchstone in the election of 1864. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”[1] While it might be somewhat trite to begin an article on the[…]

Native Americans and the Origin of Abraham Lincoln’s Views on Race

Native Americans influenced the formation of Abraham Lincoln’s racial ideology. December of 1862 was a grisly month of a grisly year. Abraham Lincoln received dire reports from the horrifying battle at Fredricksburg, Virginia, and he had an eye on the scene unfolding on the windswept prairie of Mankato, Minnesota. In that far-flung corner of the[…]

In the Shadow of the Little Giant: Lincoln before the Great Debates

Until their great debates, Abraham Lincoln lived for a quarter-century in the shadow of Stephen A. Douglas. Until their great debates, Abraham Lincoln lived for a quarter-century in the shadow of Stephen A. Douglas. While his biographers often view his development before 1858 as a prelude to his presidential achievement, Lincoln saw himself in relationship[…]

The Beard That Wasn’t: Abe Lincoln’s Whiskers

The origins of the sixteenth President’s facial hair are more tangled than you might think. It’s a familiar story. On October 18, 1860, the Hon. Abraham Lincoln of Springfield, Illinois—Republican nominee for President of the United States—received a letter from eleven-year-old Grace Bedell, of Westfield, New York. Though a confirmed Lincoln supporter herself, Bedell worried[…]

Lincoln’s Legacy of Justice and Equality of Opportunity

In a time of great national crisis, a president took the bold step of declaring freedom for more than three million people held in servitude. One hundred fifty years ago, as the nation struggled to come to terms with a tragic loss, Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train lumbered with somber deliberateness toward its final destination. The[…]

A Bill of Lading Delivers the Goods: The Constitutionality and Effect of the Emancipation Proclamation

A bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier to a shipper acknowledging receipt of goods for transit. This greatest of all bills of lading was constitutionally issued by the Union’s helmsman. And it delivered the goods. By James A. Dueholm, J.D. Introduction On January 31, 1865, Congress adopted the Thirteenth Amendment, which[…]

“Columbia’s Noblest Sons”: Washington and Lincoln in Popular Prints

The admiration of these two former presidents has risen to the level of a posthumous apotheosis in artistic representation. By Harold Holzer Historian, Lincoln Scholar “I venture to claim for Abraham Lincoln the place next to George Washington.” So wrote George S. Boutwell, the Civil War congressman from Massachusetts who went on to serve under[…]