One of the more touching moments in the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination came when a surgeon announced that the president was dead, whereupon the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, broke the silence. “Now he belongs to the ages,” Stanton ostensibly observed, with a poetic spontaneity for which he was not known. Numerous people recount some form of the quote, but none of them recorded their memory of the phrase until a generation later, after it appeared in the multi-volume Lincoln biography by his former secretaries, John Hay and John Nicolay. Nicolay was not in Washington that night; Hay is often depicted at the bedside, although the room was not big enough to accommodate all who have subsequently been placed around it at the moment of the president’s death. Continue Reading William Marvel on Edwin Stanton’s Eulogy for Lincoln: Now He Belongs to the Ages?
Over at our Civil War blog, Stephen Cushman, author of Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War highlights a Civil War anniversary likely to be overlooked in this year’s sesquicentennial observances. Continue Reading Stephen Cushman on one of the quieter anniversaries of the Civil War
Americans have a high regard for free speech, but should we have the same concern for the protection of silence? Should saying nothing or doing nothing open one to military arrest? What if a president has gone on record as advocating such a policy? This may sound like a ridiculous proposition, given our system of rights embedded in the Constitution. But it is not a hypothetical statement: this scenario faced northerners, border state loyalists, and especially Confederates in occupied zones during the U.S. Civil War. Saying nothing and doing nothing did bring the U.S. Army to one’s door. Continue Reading William A. Blair on the Consequences of Silence during the Civil War
Spielberg based more than 40 of his characters on historical figures; included in this group is Elizabeth Keckley, an enslaved woman whose 1868 book (Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House) UNC Press and the UNC Library republished last year through the DocSouth Books program. Continue Reading Elizabeth Keckley in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln”
In this video, Elizabeth Leonard talks to the Civil War Monitor about Joseph Holt. She says Joseph Holt is “a very much forgotten personage from our historical past, and he’s someone who I think is probably the most important people from Lincoln’s administration who has been forgotten about.” Continue Reading Video: Elizabeth Leonard talks to The Civil War Monitor
For all the attention to Lincoln’s ideas and motivations, however, there has been very little focus on the delegates’ side of the story. For decades no one even knew who they were, much less what they stood for. Drawing on the work of the historian Benjamin Quarles, many believed that four of the five delegates were uneducated former slaves, hand-picked by Lincoln and his colonization commissioner, James Mitchell, to be pliable and subservient.
In fact, all five of the men who listened to Lincoln’s case for colonization were members of Washington’s free black elite, chosen by a formal meeting of representatives from Washington’s independent black churches. Continue Reading Kate Masur on Lincoln’s emigration proposal and the views of African American delegates
“Because the Civil War, by chance, began right at the beginning of an administration, that part of the Constitution that gave the president a four-year term and made the president the commander-in-chief was extremely important. That meant that, barring impeachment or assassination, there would be a determined Republican in the White House fighting the South until March of 1865.”—Mark E. Neely Jr. Continue Reading Video: Mark E. Neely Jr. on the advantage of the U.S. Constitution during the Civil War
Much has been lost by this failure to consider both of the American constitutions in the Civil War. Since the constitutions were markedly similar in content, the historian has the opportunity to see the document tested in two different societies at the same time. The opportunity for comparisons is unequaled in history. And ultimately our judgments on the role of the Constitution in war should appear doubly sound. Continue Reading Mark E. Neely Jr: Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation – An Excerpt
An excerpt from the new release Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky, by Elizabeth D. Leonard. Continue Reading Elizabeth D. Leonard: Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally- An Excerpt
We welcome a guest post from James Marten, author of Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America. Today is the anniversary of President Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural, in which he made a promise that was kept by passing federal programs that took care of war veterans and their families.… Continue Reading James Marten: Charity for All: A Little-Known Legacy of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural
Early 1861 marked the only time in our nation’s history that it had two presidents, both calling for a return to the republic born in the American Revolution. On February 18, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as the President of the Confederate States of America; on March 4, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President… Continue Reading Two Inaugural Addresses–two weeks apart
Today, the UNC Press blog is happy to offer a guest post from William A. Blair, professor of U.S. history and director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center at the Pennsylvania State University. In November, UNC Press will be publishing Lincoln’s Proclamation, a collection of essays coedited by Blair and Karen… Continue Reading Juneteenth, Emancipation, and the Proclamation
Upcoming author events, including a C-SPAN taping tonight! Today, Tuesday, 4/14: John & Dale Reed in Kernersville, NC – Shakespeare & Company Books in Kernersville hosts the authors of Holy Smoke at 6 pm. Lars Schoultz in Durham, NC – The author of That Infernal Little Cuban Republic will read and speak at the Regulator… Continue Reading Upcoming events 4/14 – 4/20
While Google may be marking today as the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin, many of us here at the UNC Press are thinking of another 200th birthday. Today marks the bicentennial birthday our our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, a reoccurring subject in many of our titles. Two titles in particular come to mind today. The… Continue Reading UNC Press Authors at the Lincoln Presidential Library