The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: Opponents Unified in Founding Principles

They asked voters to sort through mounds of partisan propaganda and do whatever necessary to understand the issues. By Georgiann Baldino Political insults and conspiracy theories are nothing new in American history. One election in particular set a standard for nasty charges and countercharges. In the 1858 Illinois senatorial contest, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas hurled insults and[…]

“Simply a Theist”: Herndon on Lincoln’s Religion

Herndon would have sympathized with the contemporary journalist who dryly remarked that John Wilkes Booth’s fatal bullet had “made it impossible to speak the truth of Abraham Lincoln hereafter.” Introduction On the evening of Friday, December 12, 1873, William Herndon rose to address a public meeting at the courthouse in Springfield. Undaunted by the bad[…]

Abraham Lincoln in European Popular Culture

Lincoln has generally been absent as a model in European social and public life, rarely emphasized as an essential part of education or in the public forum. By Dr. John DeanMaître de Conférences 9° of Cultural History and American StudiesUniversity of Versailles Saint-Quentin en Yvelines Introduction This article argues that Lincoln is not a universal[…]

Statues and Status: Lincoln in Europe

The exponential growth of his popularity built into a memorial crescendo. Lincoln’s ascension to the status of icon was not smooth and steady. Journalist Horace Greeley predicted in April of 1865 that the sixteenth President’s reputation would grow proportionate to the distance from his own era, and it grew steadily from his death in 1865,[…]

Matthew Brady’s Abraham Lincoln

Mathew Brady’s photographs of Lincoln were one of the major sources for press illustrations in both Europe and the United States. By Dr. Marie Cordié LevyScholar, History of Photography Introduction Understanding the medium itself—the photography and the photographer—offers an important key to understanding how the Lincoln image was constructed in Europe. This paper also investigates[…]

Classical Rhetoric as a Lens for Reading the Key Speeches of Lincoln’s Political Rise, 1852–1856

Exploring his evolving rhetorical ability that enabled him to grow from a political party operative into a party leader, then into a statesman. After Abraham Lincoln’s first political career ended with the expiration of his only term in Congress in 1849, he concentrated on building his law practice, pursuing only limited political activity until his[…]

Lincoln in Scotland: A Gift of the Gilded Age

This gift from America to Scotland can be understood as a symbol of Gilded Age transatlantic relations. Introduction On August 21, 1893, a bronze stature of Abraham Lincoln was erected in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland. This article examines the story of this monument and the motivations of the men who erected it, as a[…]

“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[…]