Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eric Foner Interview about New Lincoln Book

Eric Foner, the well-respected historian who teaches at Columbia University, has recently written a book that focuses on Lincoln's views of slavery. Having focused on broad issues of slavery and emancipation in his recent book Forever Free, he now is focusing on Lincoln's personal views on the subject in a new book: The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.

There is an interview promoting the new book on Columbia's website, including video clips of Foner explaining some of his thoughts on Lincoln, including why he felt the book was a necessary addition to the Lincoln bookshelf. He also has a pretty good answer on one of the key 'what-if' Lincoln questions: What if Lincoln had lived into Reconstruction?

I don't know how much new ground there is for Foner to till in this topic, though his recent study writ large of Reconstruction might allow insights into some of Lincoln's contradictions on the subject. I have little doubt that the book is well written and worth reading for someone interested in reading about Lincoln and slavery for the first time.

House Where Lincoln('s Stuff) Slept for Sale

According to The LA Times, Louise Taper is selling her large mansion. Taper is well known in Lincoln circles as an avid collector of all things Lincoln, amassing a large and valuable collection over the years. She has been a huge supporter of The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield -- the museum's first temporary exhibit on the assassination was mostly drawn from her vast collection, as well as the Peterson House furniture owned by the Chicago History Museum (or whatever they're calling themselves this month).

Three years ago, she sold (some say at a reduced price) her collection to the museum, including several gems: a Lincoln hat, the gloves Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated, and the famous arithmetic book that has Lincoln's famous scribble: "Abraham Lincoln/ His hand and his pen/ He will be good/ But God knows when."

For years, this collection was housed in this mansion. Andrew Ferguson, in Land of Lincoln (which I've reviewed before), tells of his visit to the Taper residence to view the collection, including the gloves and the book. Now the Lincolniana has moved to Springfield, and evidently Taper is moving on as well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New Lincoln Book

A new Lincoln-related book was released today, the second recent book focusing on the 1860 presidential election, which was a wild free-for-all, with no fewer than a dozen serious candidates for nominations and four candidates in the November election.

Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War by Douglas R. Egerton (Bloomsbury Press, hardcover, 416 pages)

Doris Kearns Goodwin's prize-winning Team of Rivals revealed to many that Lincoln faced several better known Republicans for the 1860 presidential nomination, before inviting several of them to serve in his cabinet after his election. It should come as no surprise that the Democratic nomination was just as fiercely contested -- so much so that the party actually split into regional factions, each nominating a candidate. Steven Douglas, who had worked tirelessly over the past decade to position himself as the front-runner (including his assertive chairmanship on the Senate committee on territories), had positioned himself as the only Democrat acceptable to both North and South, only to discover that he wasn't acceptable to both regions either.

This book has only gotten a couple of reviews today, but one is in The Wall Street Journal. It seems that Egerton focuses more on Douglas than Lincoln, which certainly is an accurate portrayal of the year 1860 -- Lincoln won the election, but Douglas was the central personality of the year.

John Waugh's Reelecting Lincoln offers an entertaining portrayal of the 1864 election. The 1860 contest was much more action packed, with plenty of tension and lots of big personalities. So Egerton has plenty of material to work with -- here's hoping that he does it justice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Blog on Statues and Monuments of Lincoln

While catching up on things Lincoln this evening -- after some time focused on other things, including a vacation -- I was pleased to discover a new Lincoln blog. "Lincolning," by Lincoln enthusiast Dave Wiegers, will focus statues and memorials dedicated to the 16th president.

Having corresponded with Dave occasionally since I began this blog, I know that Lincoln statuary has long been a passion. Currently, he is working on a book filled with photographs and information about Lincoln statues across the country. No doubt his blog will be filled with the insights gleaned from his travels and his photographer's eye.

I wish Dave all the best as he begins his blog and continues working on his book.