Abraham Lincoln Assassinated on Good Friday. Again.

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated this past Friday, April 14th. Good Friday. That is, 152 years ago he was shot by John Wilkes Booth while Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were in Ford’s Theatre watching the comedic play, Our American Cousin. The anniversary is commemorated every year but this year took on special significance because April 14th once again coincided with Good Friday, a rare occurrence. By Sunday the martyrdom of Abraham Lincoln had begun, with Lincoln’s memory taking center stage during Easter services. An annual Easter service at the Lincoln Memorial continues to this day.

Back in 1865 the still living but limp body of the fallen president was carried across the street to the Petersen House where he died the next morning, April 15, at 7:22 am. “Now he belongs to the ages,” spoke Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, before spearheading a 12-day chase that ended in the death of the assassin.

All of this is the stuff of history, well known to most everyone. Less well known are some of the fascinating details. For example, as the crowd at the theater slowly came to realize what had happened a cry rang out “Is there a surgeon in the house?” There was, Dr. Charles A. Leale, a recent graduate of Bellevue Hospital Medical College and commissioned as assistant surgeon only six days previously. As luck would have it, Leale was seated in the dress circle of Ford’s Theater that night, mere steps from Lincoln’s box. His quick action likely prolonged Lincoln’s life by several hours, though he couldn’t save him from his ultimate fate. Leale’s clinical report gives us a detailed record of the event.

John Wilkes Booth derringerThe gun used by Booth was a Philadelphia deringer, a small large-bore pistol fired by loading a percussion cap, some black gunpowder, and a lead ball. Since it can only fire a single shot without reloading, Booth dropped the gun on the floor of the box, slashed Major Henry Rathbone with a large knife, then leaped to the stage. The gun now is on display in the museum of Ford’s Theatre.

Into trivia? Here’s something with which you impress your friends. Deringers were made with “rifling,” that is, grooves in the barrel to spin the ball. Unlike most deringers where the rifling creates a clockwise twist, the one used by Booth had rifling that turned counterclockwise. No matter what the twist, the rifling is designed to improve accuracy by creating a more predictable flight of the ball or bullet. Needless to say the direction of rifling was a moot point since Booth shot Lincoln at very close range.

Ah, but what happened to the lead ball? Well, it now sits in a glass case at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland. Along with it are several skull fragments, just in case you’re into “morbid oddities.”

Soon after Lincoln’s demise, long-time admirer Walt Whitman wrote an extended metaphor poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” Whitman lived in Washington during the Civil War and often watched President Lincoln ride by on horseback, later by carriage, to and from his summer living quarters in the Soldier’s Home. It begins:

O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Such a sad, yet exalting, eulogy for the fallen President. It has now been 152 years since that fateful day and battles still remain in our desire to form “a more perfect union.” As Lincoln noted in his Gettysburg Address: “It is for us the living…to be dedicated here to the unfinished work…” that Lincoln “so nobly advanced.”

[The above is adapted from two articles published on the Smithsonian Civil War Studies website. My new book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is in Barnes and Noble stores late summer 2017]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Abraham Lincoln at City Point

On March 20, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln telegraphed Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, who had invited Lincoln to visit him for a “day or two” at City Point, Virginia. Lincoln told Grant that he “had already thought of going immediately after the next rain.” I discuss this visit in a section of my forthcoming book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

City Point - The Peacemakers - George Healy

Lincoln at City Point and Richmond

Hearing from Washington that Lincoln looked even more worn out than usual, in March General Grant invited Lincoln to City Point (near Petersburg). Lincoln immediately accepted. He was not alone; Mary insisted on joining him, so a party including Tad Lincoln, a maid, a bodyguard, and a military aide boarded the River Queen on March 23 for the trip. Son Robert, now an adjunct to Grant’s army, met them on their arrival the next evening. Lincoln took time to visit the troops and confer with Generals Grant and Sherman and Admiral David Porter. Overall it was a restful but productive visit. That changed when Mary Lincoln flew into a jealous rage at seeing General Ord’s wife riding “too close” to her husband, after which Lincoln sent Mary back to Washington. Soon after her departure, however, the Union captured Richmond, which the Confederate leadership had abandoned. She insisted on returning, this time bringing a large entourage that included her ex-slave dressmaker, Elizabeth Keckley, who had been born in nearby Petersburg.

During Mary’s absence, Lincoln took Tad into Richmond. After landing at the docks, Lincoln and Tad walked the mile or so to the Confederate White House that had served until a few days earlier as Jefferson Davis’s office. Surrounding him along the way were hundreds of ex-slaves who wanted to see the “Great Emancipator,” while anxious white southerners stared suspiciously from their windows.

On April 8, Lincoln visited the Depot Field Hospital at City Point. Over the course of a full day he shook the hands of more than 6,000 patients, including a few sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. Feeling the pressure of business, Lincoln left City Point to return to Washington that evening. The next day, Lee surrendered his army to General Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the war.

The mood in Washington was euphoric. After four long years the war was essentially over.

That mood would dramatically change only a few days later as Lincoln was struck down by an assassin’s bullet. The making of Lincoln’s legacy, both myth and reality, would begin immediately.

[The above is adapted from Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, due in Barnes and Noble stores in summer 2017]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Abraham Lincoln, Joseph Henry, and Nikola Tesla – Connected by Fate

When Abraham Lincoln took the presidential oath on March 4, 1861, he would become the first president ever to have obtained a patent. Patent Number 6469 was awarded to Lincoln on May 22, 1849 for a device to lift boats over shoals and obstructions. Lincoln writes in his patent application:

Be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, of Springfield, in the county of Sangamon, in the state of Illinois, have invented a new and improved manner of combining adjustable buoyant air chambers with a steam boat or other vessel for the purpose of enabling their draught of water to be readily lessened to enable them to pass over bars, or through shallow water, without discharging their cargoes and I do hereby declare the following to be a full, clear, and exact description thereof, reference being had to the accompanying drawings making a part of this specification.

It was the only patent Abraham Lincoln ever received, and the only patent ever given to a President, either before or after their presidency. In contrast, Nikola Tesla had around 300 patents to his name.

Tesla may have had more patents (after all, he was an inventor), but Lincoln always had an interest in invention. During his career as a lawyer he was routinely sought for patent and technologically-dependent legal cases, and during the Civil War he often took matters into his own hands and personally tested some of the biggest technological advances in weaponry. Since he was not classically trained as a scientist – he barely finished one year of formal schooling – Lincoln called on experts to advise him. His biggest scientific adviser during the Civil War was Joseph Henry.

Calling Joseph Henry

Most people likely do not know it, but Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Samuel F.B. Morse, Michael Faraday, and others owe their fame, at least in part, to Joseph Henry.

As the Civil War loomed, with Washington D.C. a critical centrality in both the conflict and the potential solution, Joseph Henry was still getting settled into the red sandstone “Castle” that we have all come to know as the symbol of the Smithsonian Institution. The building itself, like the Institution, was relatively new, completed only about six years before Lincoln’s arrival. As the first Secretary of the Smithsonian, and later also as chair of the Permanent Commission to advise the Navy on scientific matters, Henry was one of Abraham Lincoln’s most trusted science advisers. Henry and Lincoln became good friends and worked together to address a wide variety of technological and scientific issues during the Civil War.

So what does Joseph Henry have to do with Nikola Tesla? It turns out, a lot, even though Henry died a few years before Tesla first set foot on American soil.

A precocious child with little interest in formal education, the young Henry stumbled across a book called Lectures on Experimental Philosophy, Astronomy and Chemistry; the book changed his life. Eagerly devouring the scientific principles it contained, Henry began a largely self-taught course in the sciences. Eventually he was taken in by a mentor at the Albany Academy and focused on the nascent field of electricity. Henry excelled in his studies and one day decided to improve upon a weak electromagnet design by William Sturgeon. While the original design used loosely coiled uninsulated wire, Henry wrapped the coils tightly with silk for insulation. The result was four hundred times the original strength. Further improvements led to the powerful electromagnet that became the standard in modern times. This was in 1827, more than fifty years before Tesla came to America.

A few years later, in 1831, Joseph Henry’s innovations led to the first machine to use electromagnetism for motion, effectively, the precursor to the modern direct current motor. It was a simple design, the linear rocking from side to side of a standard electromagnet, but it was the basis for the rotating motion motors eventually designed by Nikola Tesla for his alternating current system. Henry’s simple apparatus allowed him to discover the principle of self-inductance (electromagnetic inductance).

Henry did not stop there. His experiments demonstrated that using an electromagnet in which two electrodes are attached to a battery, winding several coils of wire in parallel worked best. In contrast, if multiple batteries were used, a single long coil was best. This discovery is what made the telegraph feasible.

So why is it we do not hear about Joseph Henry as the father of the electromagnet, or father of the telegraph, or father of self-inductance? In short, Henry was always hesitant to publish any of his work. While he delayed writing up his discoveries, and there were many, others were quick to publish, sometimes after hearing about Henry’s work and “borrowing” it for their own. Famed scientist Michael Faraday, who most credit as the father of self-inductance, actually got at least some of his ideas from a meeting with Joseph Henry; while Henry hesitated, Faraday rushed to publish first. Similarly, Samuel F.B. Morse gets credit for being the father of the telegraph even though it was Joseph Henry’s key discoveries that made it possible; again, after meeting with Henry, Morse took advantage of Henry’s hesitation to publish.

That gets us to Nikola Tesla. Like Thomas Edison and others who developed electric lighting and power in the 1880s and beyond, it was Joseph Henry (and Faraday and others) who had discovered the principles on which the later inventions were based.

In fact, Joseph Henry and Nikola Tesla share yet another claim to fame – both of them have been honored with an international scientific unit (SI). Based on his work with electromagnetic energy, the tesla (T), an SI unit of magnetic flux density and equal to “one weber per square meter,” was named in Tesla’s honor. His forerunner, Joseph Henry, was honored with the SI unit of inductance, the henry (H), for his earlier discoveries in electromagnetic induction.

There are many other connections between Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla, which I discuss in the e-book from which the above is excerpted, Connected by Fate. Joseph Henry, whose early discoveries with electromagnetism, electricity, and the telegraph, became the key principles upon which Nikola Tesla and others made names for themselves years later, was just one connection. Check out the book for more.

Also, look for my new book coming out summer 2017: Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America [Click for Prologue]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Three Books about Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin

Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day – February 12, 1809. Each in their own way became icons of change and are remembered throughout history for their contributions. While you might expect them to have little in common other than their birth dates, several authors have examined the two men together in books. Click on the links for full reviews of each book.

Rebel Giants: The Revolutionary Lives of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, by David R. Contosta

Lincoln and Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science and Religion, by James Lander

Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik

Look for my new book coming out summer 2017: Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America [Click for Prologue]

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address

George Buss as Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th President of the United States during a time of great upheaval. His first inaugural address was long (his second would be much shorter) and delved into the crisis that was causing the nation to split.

One section of our country believes slavery is right, and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute.

On Wednesday, July 18, 2017, members of the Lincoln Group of DC experienced the entire Lincoln first inaugural address in person, as performed by George Buss (the same Lincoln who now performs the Gettysburg Address each year in November). The event was co-sponsored by the Lincoln Group of DC, the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital, the Lincoln Cottage, and the Abraham Lincoln Association. I took the following video of the peroration:

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war.

One can only hope:

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Below are a small selection of photos from the event. All photos (including the thumbnail at the top) are copyright Bruce Guthrie, a fantastic photographer who graciously offers his time and skills to chronicle Abraham Lincoln and other events.

To learn more about the Lincoln Group of DC, check out our website.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is scheduled for release in summer 2017.

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Remembering Abraham Lincoln at the Hill Center, Old Navy Hospital

On January 18, 2017, in celebration of the Old Naval Hospital’s 150th anniversary, Hill Center and the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia will hold a celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address.  In 1864 President Lincoln authorized $25,000 for construction of the (Old) Naval Hospital, which was completed in 1866, and the building has been restored to its 1860s condition to serve as Hill Center.
You can join us by signing up here: http://hillcenterdc.org/home/programs/3039.  You can also pay at the door.
The program will recall how Abraham Lincoln faced the gravest challenge that ever confronted a new president. The program will include delivery of the First Inaugural Address and a panel discussion about its context and significance. Michelle Krowl, president of the Abraham Lincoln Institute and a Lincoln specialist at the Library of Congress, will moderate the discussion. Panelists will include Lincoln scholar John Elliff, president of the Lincoln Group of DC and former associate professor at Brandeis University, and Michael F. Bishop, Director of the National Churchill Library and Center at George Washington University and former executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.  Other co-sponsors are President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC and the Abraham Lincoln Association headquartered in Springfield, Illinois.
The Inaugural Address will be delivered by George Buss of Freeport, Illinois, a professional educator who has performed as President Lincoln widely in Illinois and other states. He delivers the Gettysburg Address at the annual November commemoration at the Gettysburg Cemetery. Mr. Buss portrayed President Lincoln skillfully at a mock press conference hosted by the Capitol Historical Society in 2015 where he took questions from members of the National Press Club.  Mr. Buss is admired for the depth of his knowledge of Lincoln and his ability to represent Lincoln’s principles and historical perspective in both formal and informal settings.
The following organizations are co-sponsors of this event:
The reception with light hors d’oeuvres will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the John Phillip Sousa Hall, and the program will follow in the Abraham Lincoln Hall at 7:00 p.m. Sign up here, or just show up and pay at the door.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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2017 Travel Preview

The thing about traveling is that travel plans change. They changed a lot last year, with anticipated trips to Machu Picchu, China, and Michigan being bumped. Now here we are a third of the way through January 2017 and travel plans are nearly non-existent, in part because of the lingering uncertainties from 2016.

Two trips are /more-or-less committed, if not actually planned. October should bring us to Australia/New Zealand in a tour being arranged by Sherry Kumar (who organized the Serbia/Montenegro/Croatia trip where we got to meet Tesla royalty). We are thinking of going a week early so we can drive down to the 12 Apostles and side-trip to Uluru (aka, Ayer’s Rock). More imminent is a trip to China this spring to replace the visit postponed from last fall. The (albeit, still incredibly tentative) plan is to see South Korea either on the way there or back.

Beyond that plans are still in the “thinking about” stage. They include the twice bumped Machu Picchu, but that seems unlikely this year given time constraints. This month I will participate in a special Abraham Lincoln event at the Hill Center. At some point I’ll start making “day” trips to Lincoln-related sites such as the USS Monitor Center at Marine Mariner’s Park in Newport News, Virginia (where the Monitor ironclad is displayed and preserved); the Tredegar Iron Works site near Richmond; and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland. I’ll also need to visit the confederate submarine Hunley and Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina as I continue research for my upcoming Lincoln book.

Other possible trips include a Michigan writer’s retreat, Mt. Rushmore, a 4th of July road trip to New England, and maybe, just maybe, Cuba. I’ll definitely be going to Gettysburg in November for the annual Lincoln Forum.

Of course, I’m always open to last minute changes, so feel free to provide suggestions (and plane tickets).

Meanwhile, my Lincoln: The Man Who Save America book is in the final stages of design before going to the printer for a July 2017 release. I’m back working on my other Abraham Lincoln book, which hopefully will see the light of day in 2018. Oh, and I’m working on another Lincoln-related project that I hope to announce soon. Stay tuned!

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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[Photo credit: David J. Kent, Erfurt, Germany, 2008]

 

Abraham Lincoln Book Acquisitions for 2016

booksAnother year, another suite of acquisitions for my Abraham Lincoln book collection. In 2016 I acquired only 43 new additions, far less than the 59 and 60 books obtained in 2015 and 2014, respectively, and less than half the 98 books in 2013. Some of this reduction in new items is correlated to my reduced acquisition fund, but mostly it is because books not already in my collection are getting harder and harder to find.

I purchased six books published in 2016, including A Self-Made Man by Sidney Blumenthal, which is the first of a series on the political life of Abraham Lincoln. Blumenthal is not a Lincoln historian, per se, but you’ll recognize his name as a Clinton confidant with great political insights. He’s already agreed to be a speaker this coming year at the Lincoln Group of DC.

The other new books are The Annotated Lincoln by Harold Holzer and Tom Horrocks, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey by Noah Andre Trudeau, The Lincoln Assassination Riddle by Frank Williams and Michael Burkhimer, and Herndon on Lincoln: Letters by Doug Wilson and Rodney Davis. All but the latter and the Trudeau book have been inscribed to me by the authors, and I plan to get Trudeau’s inscription when I meet him in February.

Aside from new books there were several classic authors and publications making their way onto my shelves this year, including books by Gabor Borritt, Wayne Temple, Ruth Painter Randall, Allen Nevins, and William Hesseltine. The oldest book, The True Abraham Lincoln by Curtis Leroy Wilson, was published in 1902. I also picked up recent books from modern day historians Edna Greene Medford (Lincoln and Emancipation) and Terry Alford (Fortune’s Fool).

One of the more unique books obtained was Matthew Algeo’s Abe & Fido, which is what it sounds like, a book about Lincoln and his dog. What? You didn’t know he had a dog? Then you need to read this book. Another unique book is one put out by Parke-Bernet Galleries called The Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection: Public Auction Sale, February 19 and 20.  This volume lists all of items sold at auction in 1952 belonging to legendary Lincoln collector, Oliver Barrett. Next to each item description is written in pencil the price paid by the winning bidder.

Needless to say, with over 15,000 books and pamphlets reportedly published about our 16th president there are quite a few more books I can add to my collection. More are being published every year, and I’m happy to say that my own book will be joining the parade next year. Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America is due out in July 2017.

See the 2016 list below my signature blurb below.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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Here is the 2016 list:

Alford, Terry Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth 2015
Algeo, Matthew Abe & Fido: Lincoln’s Love of Animals and the Touching Story of his Favorite Canine Companion 2015
Bedini, Silvio A. Jefferson and Science 2002
Bedini, Silvio A. Thomas Jefferson: Statesman of Science 1990
Blumenthal, Sidney A Self-Made Man 1809-1849: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln 2016
Bogar, Thomas A. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination: The Untold Story of the Actors and Stagehands at Ford’s Theatre 2013
Boritt, Gabor Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream 1994
Burleigh, Nina The Stranger and the Statesman: James Smithson, John Quincy Adams, and the Making of America’s Greatest Museum, The Smithsonian 2003
Chaffin, Tom The H.L. Hunley: The Secret Hope of the Confederacy 2008
Curtis, William Leroy The True Abraham Lincoln 1902
deKay, James Tertius Monitor: The Story of the Legendary Civil War Ironclad and the Man Whose Invention Changed the Course of History 1997
Emerson, Jason The Madness of Mary Lincoln 2007
Gossett, Thomas F. Race: The History of an Idea in America 1993
Grahame-Smith, Seth Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 2010
Gramm, Kent November: Lincoln’s Elegy at Gettysburg 2001
Hesseltine, William B. Lincoln and the War Governors 1948
Hodes, Martha Mourning Lincoln 2015
Holzer, Harold and Horrocks, Thomas A. The Annotated Lincoln 2016
Howe, Daniel Walker What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 2007
Johnson, Clint Pursuit: The Chase, Capture, Persecution & Surprising Release of Confederate President Jefferson Davis 2008
Lewin, J.G. and Huff, P.J. Lines of Contention: Political Cartoons of the Civil War 2007
Mahin, Dean B. One War at at Time 1999
Maxwell, William Quentin Lincoln’s Fifth Wheel: The Political History of the U.S. Sanitary Commission 1856
Medford, Edna Greene Lincoln and Emancipation 2015
Miller, William Lee President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman 2008
Morel, Lucas (Ed.) Lincoln & Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages 2014
Nevins, Allan The Emergence of Lincoln 1950-1951
Parke-Bernet Galleries The Oliver R. Barrett Lincoln Collection: Public Auction Sale, February 19 and 20 1952
Prokopowicz, Gerald J. Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln 2008
Randall, Ruth Painter The Courtship of Mr. Lincoln 1957
Schwartz, Thomas F. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum: Official Commemorative Guide 2011
Silvestri, Vito N. and Lairo, Alfred P. Abraham Lincoln’s Intellectual Development 1809-1837 2013
Steers, Edward Jr. The Lincoln Assassination Encyclopedia 2010
Strozier, Charles B. Lincoln’s Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings 1987
Temple, Wayne C. Lincoln’s Connections With the Illinois Michigan Canal, His Return From Congress in ’48, and His Invention 1986
Temple, Wayne C. By Square and Compasses: The Building of Lincoln’s Home and Its Saga 1984
Temple, Wayne C. Lincoln’s Surgeons at His Assassination 2015
Toomey, Daniel Carroll The War Came by Train: The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad During the Civil War 2013
Trudeau, Noah Andre Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24-April 8, 1865 2016
Williams, Frank J. and Burkhimer, Michael (Eds) The Lincoln Assassination Riddle: Revisiting the Crime of the Nineteenth Century 2016
Wills, Chuck Lincoln: The Presidential Archives 2007
Wilson, Douglas L. and Davis, Rodney O. Herndon on Lincoln: Letters 2016
Lincoln Herald Spring 1997 1997

Lincoln at Gettysburg

As part of a busy few weeks, I attended the Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania just before Thanksgiving. The Forum brings together hundreds of Lincoln enthusiasts and scholars to hear some of the most well-known and respected thinkers in the field. I was lucky enough to meet up with an old friend.

Selfie with George Buss

George Buss has been portraying Lincoln for decades. This year marks his second time commemorating Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on Remembrance Day, November 19th, the 153rd anniversary of that day.

George Buss and Jon Willen

Photo courtesy of Jon Willen

In the photo above, George is joined by another friend, Jon Willen, who is a retired physician who, appropriately enough, plays a surgeon in Civil War reenactments. Between the two of them, it’s possible that George and Jon have spent more time in the 1860s than in any other decade. They were joined by many others on the battlefield for the commemoration.

Both were also at the Forum itself, with George, ahem, Abraham Lincoln, presenting parts of his first inaugural speech. The Forum also featured keynote presentations by Sidney Blumenthal (author of A Self-Made Man), Ron White, Jr. (American Ulysses), and Bud Robertson, Jr. (“After the Civil War”). Robertson also won the annual Richard Current Nelson Award of Achievement.

Lincoln Forum panel

Of course, there were many more speakers and panels led by Frank J. Williams and Harold Holzer (Chair and Vice Chair, respectively). We heard from Joan Waugh, Craig Symonds, John Marszalek, Richard Brookhiser, Catherine Clinton, Edna Greene Medford, Douglas Egerton, and others. All packed into 2-1/2 days of lectures, meet-and-greets, tours, and even a cooking class.

This was my third year attending the Forum, which I had missed all those years it conflicted in timing with my annual SETAC meeting. Now the Forum is on my calendar for every year forward.

Meanwhile, I’m in the final editing phase of my newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, due out in 2017.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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Prologue – Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America

Lincoln first inaugurationToday I head up to Gettysburg for the annual Lincoln Forum conference featuring such eminent historians as Frank Williams, Harold Holzer, Sidney Blumenthal, Richard Brookhiser, Edna Greene Medford, and many others.

At the same time I am finishing up the text for my next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Save America, due out in 2017. The following is a snippet from the prologue.

Abraham Lincoln stood beneath the unfinished dome of the United States Capitol, gazing over the crowd gathered below him with melancholy and trepidation. Begun six years earlier to replace the old copper-clad wooden dome, the new cast iron dome augured the duties ahead of him, that of rebuilding the nation. Lincoln was apprehensive, unsure he could accomplish all that awaited him.

The wooden platform constructed on the East side of the building for his inauguration was wet from the morning’s rain, and some people had umbrellas to protect them from the continuing drizzle. The gloomy mood was appropriate, as already between the November elections and March 4, 1861 seven states in the deep South had seceded from the Union. They would be joined by four more shortly after.

Lincoln would give his inaugural address, then be given the oath of the office of the president by Chief Justice Roger Taney, whose Dred Scott decision a few years earlier had further divided the nation and enlarged the growing rift between free states and slave states. Lincoln wondered if he would be able to keep the Union together.

“We must not be enemies. We must be friends.”

Speaking to the South, Lincoln tried to reassure them that “the government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without yourself being the aggressors.” He pleaded with them not to destroy the goals of the founders, which by establishing the Constitution, was “to form a more perfect union.”

But he was also firm:

“You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect and defend’ it.” 

After being sworn into office, Lincoln road alone in his carriage up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House. It would be up to Lincoln over the next four years to find a way to save America.

I’ll have more on the book, and plenty of photos, after my return from the Lincoln Forum.

David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book is on Abraham Lincoln, due out in 2017.

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