Eric Foner on Lincoln

11 02 2011

In this video, famous historian Eric Foner speaks about his new book about Lincoln’s attitude to slavery.

Lincoln and Hollywood

8 02 2011

The New York Times reports that we can expect to see a slew of new movies about Abraham Lincoln this year, which is the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

The first of the films to be released, The Conspirator, will appear in April.

Video Clips of Historian James M. McPherson

1 01 2010

In this video, noted Princeton historian James M. McPherson discusses Abraham Lincoln as a military leader.  McPherson has published many books on the Civil War, including his Pullitzer-winning Battle Cry of Freedom.

In this video, McPherson talks about Reconstruction and the legacy of the Civil War.

Lincoln Memorial Re-Dedication

1 06 2009

In connection with the 200th anniversary of the Great Emancipator’s birth, the Lincoln Memorial in Washington will be rededicated at a ceremony later this week.

Seeing this news item reminded me of an idea for a research project that once came to me but which I never pursued. My idea was to research and write an article on President Lincoln’s relationship with Canada. I think that Lincoln had enough of a connection to Canada and Canadians to provide the basis of a scholarly article at the very least. To my knowledge, nobody has researched this topic.

Ronald C. White on Lincoln

3 05 2009

I’ve just finished reading Ronald C. White’s recent biography of Abraham Lincoln. (Random House, 2009). I was left feeling disappointed. To my mind, it is nearly as good as David Herbert Donald’s 1995 biography. Donald gives us a better understanding of Lincoln’s various contexts, his times as well as his life. Moreover, I detected a definite right-wing agenda in White’s account of Lincoln’s life. White presents us with a version of Lincoln that is calculated to please Republican social conservatives. For instance, the book stresses that Lincoln’s deep religious faith shaped his view of politics. The problem with this is that other authors have argued, quite convincingly, that Lincoln was a religious free-thinker, more of a Deist than anything else. Lincoln never joined a religious denomination. White gets around this inconvenient truth through various sleights of hand. For instance, Lincoln’s attendance at a services at a particular church to hear a sermon by an influential minister is described by White as Lincoln’s worshipping at a church. Every occasion when Lincoln used language reminiscent of the Bible is pointed out by White. (We all use expressions taken from Shakespeare and the King James Bible, so this is a weak argument on White’s part). The religious leanings of Lincoln’s neighbours are also pointed out, as if living next to religious people makes one religious.