Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address – His Greatest Speech

Those who memorized the Gettysburg Address or trudged through the logic of the Cooper Union speech may offer some argument, but many scholars consider Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address to have been his greatest speech. He gave it 150 years ago today, March 4, 1865.

Lincoln 2nd inauguration

Much more concise and philosophical than his first inaugural address, this second inaugural came at a critical time in the Civil War. The previous November Lincoln had pulled out a resounding victory in the the presidential elections that only a few months before appeared to be an impossible dream. Sherman’s march to the sea and gift of the city of Savannah to Lincoln for Christmas helped shine light on what would be the end of the war just weeks after Lincoln took his oath of office for the second time.

The speech is somber even as it anticipates the successful ending of the war that had ravaged the land for four years. Then, while all “dreaded” the impending war, and “sought to avert it,” still, “the war came.” Now, the speech’s biblical references delve deep into the morality of the war, of slavery, and of the future.

He used alliteration to plead for the war to end.

“Fondly do we hope–fervently do we pray–that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.”

It’s final passage is perhaps the greatest call for humanity ever written:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan–to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Of course, no one knew that Lincoln had only weeks left to live. Or that his assassin was on the balcony above him as Lincoln delivered his inaugural address.

Much has been written about the speech and its call for re-union of the country. Tonight I’ll be in the famed Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol attending a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the second inaugural. Chaired by historian Harold Holzer and attended by Senators, Congressman, and Lincoln historians, the inaugural address will be read by the well-known actor Stephen Lang.

Then on Saturday, March 7th, the Lincoln Group of DC hosts three amazing events. We start with a reenactment of the address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, followed by a banquet at the Willard Hotel and an evening concert at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. There is still time to join us – see the details here.

March 7 Inauguration Events

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. His next book is about Thomas Edison.

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Holocaust Memorial, Miami Beach

While science traveling in Florida I had the opportunity to visit the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach. In vivid contrast to the nearby bikini beach, this memorial brings to life  unfathomable death. The contrast continues as what first appears to be a simple sculpture becomes on closer inspection a spectacularly complex look at the lives destroyed during the interminable years from 1933 to 1945 (which also happens to be the street numbers of Meridian Avenue where the memorial has stood since 1990).

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

A single forearm reaches for the sky, surrounded by a wall, on what appears to be a peaceful island in a pond of water lilies. The initial reaction one gets is a combination of wonder at the four-story high harm and solemn calm at the relatively idyllic setting. And then one begins to focus more closely.

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

Climbing the arm are figures. Agonizing figures. Part of a tattooed number becomes visible, and one starts to become uncomfortable with the realization of what is happening…what had happened.

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

One wall around the back lists names of people who are no more, whose millions of lives were taken as an act of genocide. The list continues inside.

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

Yes, inside; visitors can take a short tunnel deep inside the wall. The tunnel signposts the various concentration camps – Bergen Belsen, Birkenau, Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwicz and more. Once inside you see what is hidden from the initial view. The figures on the arm continue all the way to the Jerusalem stone foundation floor. The pain in their bodies and faces is almost unbearable, as one’s mind cannot grasp how anyone could survive the anquish, the despair, the unimaginable physical toll…or how anyone could inflict this agony upon others.

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

Walking among the figures, it’s difficult to hold back ones emotions. The old…

DSC_0099

…the women…

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

…and the young.

Holocaust Memorial, Miami

It’s a powerful monument that saps the energy from you as the magnitude of what it depicts settles into your comprehension. The memorial was anguishing for the community as well. Seen by some as misplaced so near the fun and sun of Miami’s South Beach, detractors called the sculpture “grotesque” and a “brutal intrusion on the cityscape.” And no wonder. Even today the Holocaust remains a difficult topic…a difficult memory that many would prefer not to think about. The sculptor, Kenneth Treister, described the process of creating the memorial:

“Imagine you’re in a concentration camp in Poland surrounded by the Nazis, no communication with the outside world and you’re suffering and you’re a martyr, you’re giving up your life. Each one probably died thinking that no one would ever care, no one would ever know, no one would ever remember.”

And remember we must, says Treister.

“Six million moments of death cannot be understood…

But we must all try.”

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid science traveler, and an independent Abraham Lincoln historian. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

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Barnes & Noble Stock Skyrockets on Big Tesla and Edison News

Wow. I knew Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were good for business (in their own ways), but who would have expected that my big Tesla and Edison news would cause Barnes & Noble stock to skyrocket yesterday (February 26, 2015). Here’s the proof:

Barnes & Noble stock rise

Since you might not see the immediate connection, let me explain. As most people know I wrote a book called Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (plus another Tesla ebook on his interest in renewable energy). The book is published by Fall River Press, an imprint of Sterling Publishing, and Sterling is a wholly-owned subsidiary of none other than Barnes & Noble!

This week the third printing of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity finally made it back on the shelves at Barnes & Noble stores (and also available online). As the graph above shows, Barnes & Noble stock value instantly shot up. :)

But there was an Edison connection too. Yesterday I signed the contract with Sterling Publishing to write a book on Thomas Edison (tentatively called EDISON!). And before the ink was dry Barnes & Noble stock value had soared to a new 52-week high!

See, a direct correlation between my big Tesla and Edison news and the skyrocketing stock price for Barnes & Noble! It couldn’t be any clearer.

Okay, the sudden rise in stock might have also been influenced by a little announcement that Barnes & Noble is spinning off its college bookstore business and holding tight to its Nook business unit. Yeah, those might have had a teeny influence on the stock price, but I prefer to think that my Tesla and Edison news was the driving factor in the big stock gain.

Hey, let’s just say I see the glass half full. :)

Meanwhile, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has been a great success and I’m diligently typing away on my next big book – EDISON! Tesla is in Barnes & Noble now (make sure to get one soon because they sell out quick); Edison will be in Barnes & Noble stores in 2016.

It’s a good life.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

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Special Abraham Lincoln 2nd Inauguration Event – All Invited

Lincoln MemorialIn partnership with the National Park Service, the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia invites everyone to a special series of events on Saturday, March 7, 2015 where we’ll celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural Address. Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln will take the oath of office on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and recite his famous inaugural address.

The inauguration begins a full day encompassing three separate events. More details here.

Event 1: Inaugural reenactment at the Lincoln Memorial, 9:15 – 11:30 am [Free]

Chuck Todd, the current moderator of Meet the Press and former chief White House Correspondent will deliver the keynote address. Dr. Lucas Morel of Washington and Lee University and Dr. Edna Greene Medford of Howard University will also speak. Mr. Lincoln will take the oath of office from Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, after which we’ll have wide ranging musical entertainment by the Military District of Washington; multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and music historian Bobby Horton; and the Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel Choir.

This event is free and open to the public. Music begins at 9:15 am at the Lincoln Memorial.

March 7 lineup

Event 2: Lincoln Inaugural Banquet at the Willard Hotel, 1:00 – 4:00 pm [Tickets]

After the inauguration, join us at a special inaugural banquet at the historic Willard Hotel. In addition to a fantastic meal, Lucas Morel and Edna Greene Medford will discuss the impact of Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural to the past, present, and future…as well as the 50th anniversary of Selma’s “Bloody Sunday,” the topic of a recent Oscar-nominated movie co-produced by Oprah Winfrey. Bobby Horton will provide the musical entertainment!

Tickets are necessary. If you would like to hear the Bobby Horton concert but not the banquet, you can do that too! Check out the details here (scroll down for all three events).

nypres

Event 3: Bobby Horton Concert, New York Ave. Presbyterian Church, 7:30 pm [Tickets]

Bobby HortonCap off the day with an amazing concert at the church Abraham Lincoln called home, the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Bobby Horton will regale us with a full concert in this historic building beginning at 7:30 pm. For those who don’t know him, you’re in for a treat, as in his most entertaining style he will lead us in songs of the Civil War soldier, both norther and southern. More about him:

A seasoned performer, Horton is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer, and music historian. He has performed with the musical- comedy trio Three On a String, throughout the United States and Canada for 40 plus years. He has also produced and performed music scores for sixteen PBS films by Ken Burns – including “The Civil War”, and “Baseball,” two films for The A&E network, and twenty-one films for The National Park Service. His series of recordings of authentic period music has been acclaimed by historical organization and publications through America and Europe.

You can join us for one, two, or all three events. A shuttle bus is available for transport between the Lincoln Memorial and the Willard hotel (see links for details and tickets).

March 7 Inauguration Events

This is an incredible opportunity to take part in history at three of the city’s most historic landmarks – Lincoln Memorial, Williard hotel, and Lincoln’s Church. Please join us Saturday, March 7th for one or all of these great events.

More information and tickets can be found here.

See you on March 7th!

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. His next book is about Thomas Edison.

“Like” me on my Facebook author’s page and share the news with your friends using the buttons below. Also check me out on Goodreads.

 

Little Tommy Edison and All the Rest

Young Thomas EdisonTwo weeks have passed since my last recap, and it’s been a busy fortnight. Tops on the list is finding out all about little Tommy Edison. Yes, Thomas Alva Edison. And he wasn’t really called Tommy; in fact he was called Al (not to be confused with the Paul Simon song, “You Can Call Me Al”).

It turns out Little Al was a precocious child. After dismissed as “addled” by a teacher, Edison was home-schooled, ran off to be a news butch, then telegraph operator, and at 22-years-old quit work to become a full-time independent inventor. No wonder he got more than a thousand patents in a life filled with both excitement and disappointment, where his inventions flourished after they were made better by others, and where his loss of hearing left him biting the local piano to enjoy the music.

Intrigued? Good. As my new book develops I’m confident that you’ll discover the many sides of Thomas Edison that most people don’t know…and much of which people do know may actually not be true. Stayed tuned for more updates.

Lincoln Quote BustAlso seen lately here on Science Traveler was a review of a book on Lincoln’s sometimes rocky relationship with the press, and a birthday tribute to the the man himself.

The AwakeningOn Hot White Snow I relived The Trauma of First Grade. Having missed any opportunities for pre-school or kindergarten, there is nothing like having to stand in the hallway half of the first day of first grade to stigmatize a child’s vision of the educational system.

Peer reviewThe Dake Page continued its series on how peer-review of scientific papers works…and sometimes doesn’t work. Part 2 looked at what happens when peer-review goes wrong, while Part 3 looked at the rare, but important, cases of intentional abuse of the peer-review system.

Meanwhile, plans continue for a late May trip to the lands of Vikings (not the Minnesota ones), Fjords (not the Detroit ones), and blondes (yes, those ones). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to take advantage of an invite to see two great friends from Brussels get married in Bulgaria as it falls on the same week I already have travel plans. I actually already visited Sofia (the capital) and Plovdiv as part of a rapid response trip several years ago, but it would have been great to see them again. Next trip!

More science travel posts soon (I promise).

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. He is currently working on a book about Thomas Edison for Fall River Press, due out in 2016.

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Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion by Harold Holzer

Power of the Press - Harold HolzerHarold Holzer shows why he is considered the leading Abraham Lincoln expert as he adds to his tremendous legacy of scholarship. The focus of this latest book is Lincoln’s relationship with the press. It’s important to know that the newspapers of the day were highly partisan and often closely aligned with a particular party or candidate. They were also fiercely antagonistic to each other and to the opposing party. If a politician didn’t have a good relationship with the press, they had no compunction to viciously and directly attacking him, and in many cases, making things up.

The book is broken into two main parts. The first spends a lot of time tracking the three main editors of the influential New York press – Horace Greeley of the Tribune, Henry Raymond of the Times (both of whom supported Republicans), and the openly racist James Gordon Bennett of the Herald (who supported Democrats). While these three often are the main foils, Holzer has no shortage of other key papers and editors to add to the mix. In this first, pre-war, part, Lincoln usually is trying hard to get the big eastern papers to notice him, then mostly an unknown lawyer and one-term congressman in “the west” (i.e., Illinois).

The second part focuses on the direct interactions between Lincoln and the press, again focusing on the three main editors but amply filled in with myriads of other newspaper accounts across the now-split nation. Holzer’s adept story telling follows the action as each editor reports, and often makes, the news. Holzer brings to life key incidents in which Lincoln used the press to his advantage, for example, to prepare the nation for the Emancipation Proclamation in a famous letter to Horace Greeley, as well as many lesser known examples.

For a long book – 565 pages of text, with another 100 or more pages in extensive notes – it moves along crisply, at least for people with some degree of knowledge about Lincoln and the times. I suspect some readers may find it a bit too long, but that would short-change the wonderful value this book provides. Harold Holzer’s book is as powerful as the press were during the Civil War. It’s well worth the read.

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. His next book is about Thomas Edison.

“Like” me on my Facebook author’s page and share the news with your friends using the buttons below. Also check me out on Goodreads.

Happy Birthday, Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln Quote BustToday is the 206th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th and perhaps most well known President. And as usual, I’m chasing Abraham Lincoln.

Those who know me already understand that though my career has been in science, I’ve continued to research Abraham Lincoln independently. It began for some unremembered reason when I was young, and has continued throughout my life. Seems I’m always chasing Lincoln somewhere, and I admit having a few odd Lincoln collectibles around the house/storage. One of my prize possessions is the bust that serves as today’s photo.

It seems Lincoln has come into vogue again. A ton of special exhibits and events have been going on since his 200th birthday in 2009 and have continued over the last four years as we celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. The presence of a fellow Illinoisian in the White House also sparked a great deal of interest. Besides the obvious connections, it helped that President Obama himself has a fascination with Lincoln, even to the point of reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals on the campaign trail (at 850 pages, not a minor effort!) and using Lincoln’s own bible to take the oath of office.

I, too, read Team of Rivals during the bicentennial year of his birth, and like many of my nearly 1000 books on Lincoln, it’s a signed first edition. Ironically, I had been waiting for the years leading up to the bicentennial so I could help celebrate Lincoln’s birth, but then found myself relocated to a life in Brussels, Belgium during that time and missed most of the special events. Since my return to the states, however, I’ve become even more active in Lincoln-related events, joining the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia (LGDC) and this past year becoming Vice President of Outreach and Education.

In fact, LGDC will celebrate Lincoln’s birthday tonight with dinner and a lecture by acclaimed author Joseph Fornieri.

So while I’ve been chasing Lincoln most of my life, I’m very glad that so many others have finally discovered him. He is even much more fascinating – and complex – than most people realize.

Happy birthday, Mr. President, Abraham Lincoln!

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time. His next book is about Thomas Edison.

“Like” me on my Facebook author’s page and share the news with your friends using the buttons below. Also check me out on Goodreads.

Tesla vs Edison – Round Two (The Big Announcement)

Tesla vs Edison cartoonThose following this page know that I wrote a biography of famed Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla in 2013. Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has gone on to become a great success. In fact, the third printing is due in Barnes and Noble stores this month (February 2015), which will help reach even more tens of thousands of people.

Every Tesla fan knows that he and Thomas Edison had a love/hate relationship. Initially colleagues and friends, they became rivals as Tesla hooked up with George Westinghouse to advance alternating current (AC) while Edison was deeply invested in direct current (DC). The chapter “A Man Always at War” in my Tesla book is filled with stories about the war of the currents.

Now it’s time for the another perspective.

I am happy to announce that Fall River Press, the imprint of Sterling Publishing that published Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, has asked me to write a similarly styled book on none other than Thomas Edison!

Yes, that Thomas Edison.

Current wars

Edison, of course, was well established as an inventor before Tesla arrived in New York. The new book will examine Edison’s life, his successful inventions, his failures, and his perspective on the war of the currents. The book will also delve into Edison’s invention factories in Menlo Park and West Orange, New Jersey, as well as his friendships – and rivalries – with some of the great personages of the time. The intent is to show Edison’s trials and tribulations as well as his triumphs.

Previous biographies of Edison have given Nikola Tesla very little mention. My book on Edison will bring Tesla into the picture where appropriate.

I’ll be working on the book this year and Fall River Press is planning to release it some time in 2016. I’ll update as soon as I have a more concrete schedule.

As I work on the book I can’t help but envision actor Tom Cappadona as Thomas Edison. Cappadona played Edison in the 2013 off-Broadway play TESLA, the cast of which I had the privilege of visiting about a month before the play’s opening. As a guest of the director I got to see TESLA on opening night, where an overflow house gave a sustained and enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of the show. Tom Cappadona was superlative in the role of Thomas Edison, so it’s his face that inspires my writing of the great inventor. [He’s also my first choice to cover the title role in the highly unlikely event that the book becomes a Steven Spielberg film (hey, I can dream, right?).]

I’ll have more information as the book develops, but expect the same style as my Tesla book – snappy writing, great photos, and an interesting look at a complicated man.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

“Like” me on my Facebook author’s page and share the news with your friends using the buttons below. Also check me out on Goodreads.

 

Catching Up with Reality…What a Concept

Reality…What a Concept. That was the name of a comedy album by the great Robin Williams. In some of my odder moments the phrase would pop into my head and, somehow, in ways that are better not examined too closely, everything made sense. Reality had a way of making the first week of February – indeed, the first month of 2015 – spin by so fast that the world got a little dizzying.

Hemingway's typewriterSo what has life been up to lately? Here on Science Traveler I did some science traveling into the lands of sea grass, alligators and iconic writers. I found out that Hemingway was a crazy cat lady (I kid you not). I also got to check out the cells that the four Lincoln conspirators hung out in (the four that weren’t hanged). And while my family and friends back home were dealing with sub-freezing temperatures, I was ogling Brazilian bikinis on South Beach (more on that later).

Tesla bobbleheadScience Traveler also delved into the science of Lincoln’s interest in, well, science. In particular his use of Euclid geometry in speeches and writings. And we looked at the science of Nikola Tesla the Pop Icon.

The Book JugglerHot White Snow reminisced about The Navy Man and the Poet, an homage to a known stranger and an unknown friend. And then there is The Juggler, which sounds like a good name for the next Batman villain but is actually an allegory for the frenetic pace of life at the moment.

peerreviewThe Dake Page took on two serious topics to help communicate science to the public. In this Age of Climate Denial: How Do You Tell a Reliable Blog from an Unreliable Blog? examines what makes a particular blog a good – or a bad – source of science. That is followed by Part 1 of a primer on How Peer Review Works…and Doesn’t Work. These two posts should help the public find accurate information on scientific topics, in particular, man-made climate change.

All of this is just the beginning. New science traveling plans are being negotiated. New books are in the works. And Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (and assassination 56 years later) are ready to take stage in a very big way over the next month and two and three. Oh, and the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Reality is indeed a concept.

Big announcement coming Monday, so be sure to check back!

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years, is an avid traveler, and an independent Lincoln researcher. He is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page.  And feel free to “Like” my Facebook author’s page and connect on LinkedIn.  Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Nikola Tesla the Pop Icon

Nikola Tesla has largely been ignored in the history books, but he has had a resurgence  in pop culture. This point was driven home this weekend when I received the following “must-have” item from my cousin Sue:

Tesla Pot Belly

Pot belly isn’t alone in embracing Nikola Tesla as a pop icon. There are bobble heads:

Tesla bobblehead

Incredibly cool artisan chairs:

Nikola Tesla Chair by Scott Mulcahey

Chair by Scott Mulcahey, Photograph by Charles Mulcahey

And even Tesla as a science fiction superhero:

Superhero Tesla

Tesla has been in the movies too. He was played by none other than rock legend David Bowie in the film, The Prestige (also starring some other actors you may have heard of – Hugh Jackman [Wolverine], Christian Bale [Batman], Scarlett Johansson [Lucy], and Michael Caine [perhaps every movie ever made]). You can even help support another movies that has done so much to protect and restore Wardenclyffe – Fragments from Olympus: The Vision of Nikola Tesla and its companion, Tower to the People.

Nikola TeslaThere are many other pop icon examples of Nikola Tesla as well. And you can help collect them. Post photos of Tesla as pop icon on my Facebook author page, or leave them in comments here or on my Fan Photos and Fun page, and I’ll post them!

Tesla in pop culture is also covered in my book, and I’m happy to announce that the third printing of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity lands in Barnes and Noble stores this month. It’s companion, my e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time is available for direct download on Amazon.

I’m also expecting to hear any day now from my literary agent on another project. As soon as I have something official I’ll give you all a sneak preview right here on Science Traveler. Meanwhile, check out the latest from Tesla Takes Manhattan.

David J. Kent has been a scientist for over thirty years and is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page.  And feel free to “Like” my Facebook author’s page and connect on LinkedIn.  Share with your friends using the buttons below.