An Author in Our Midst – The Lincolnian Interview, Part 2

I was recently interviewed by The Lincolnian, a quarterly publication of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia. The interview was published in the Summer 2017 issue and Part 2 is recreated below. See last week for Part 1.

*********************

David J KentLincolnian: Any reaction to the book that you wish to share?

David Kent: The Lincoln book has just been released, but the initial reaction has been similar to that received for my Tesla and Edison books. People love the smooth writing and say the books are both easy to read and provide comprehensive information on the subjects. The reaction from the public has been heartwarming. The Tesla book released in 2013 is on its 7th printing and has been translated into multiple foreign languages. I’m hoping to have the same success with Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaLincolnian: At a Lincoln Group meeting, you indicated that you were writing another book on Lincoln’s interest in science? What is the status of that book? Tell us the themes of that book?

David Kent: Yes, I’m currently working on a scholarly book that focuses on Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. I’ve been doing intensive research for years on the subject and am now preparing key chapters. This book will be more in-depth so I’ll be looking for a different publisher than the one putting out my earlier books. I’m hopeful it will see the light of day (and bookstores) by late next year. Stay tuned!

Lincolnian: Tell us a bit about your own background? How/why did you become a writer? You seem to have strong twin interests in science and Lincoln. How did you become interested in these two areas – which developed first? How did your interest in Lincoln develop – and what most interests you about him. I know you travel to visit different Lincoln sites – describe some of your travels – which is the most unusual Lincoln site you have seen – where will your travels take you next -what have you missed that you wish to visit?

David Kent: While I’ve been interested in Lincoln since I was very young, I grew up in a coastal New England town so it was probably inevitable that I enter a career in the environmental sciences. After getting science degrees I worked as a marine biologist until the laboratory I worked in was burned to the ground by an arsonist, then in a series of environmental consulting firms in New Jersey and Washington DC. Over the years I’ve been president of four different scientific organizations. Throughout my science career I was writing, mostly technical reports and peer-reviewed papers, but also was writing for various newsletters. The writing bug really grabbed me only as I was returning from a 3-year secondment in Brussels, and decided to expand on my Lincoln interests. In late 2013 I left the science consulting life behind and decided to focus on my writing full time. I joined the Lincoln Group of DC in January 2012 and have been writing a lot on Lincoln in recent years, including articles in the Lincolnian and elsewhere. I joined many LGDC members on the trip to Lincoln’s Illinois last year and was totally enthralled by sites I hadn’t seen before. Future plans include a road trip beginning in Tennessee and tracing Lincoln’s birthplace in Kentucky through boyhood in Indiana and into Lincoln-related areas in northern Illinois. I’ve traveled to many countries around the world and even non-Lincoln specific locations seem to have a thing for Lincoln. There are statues of him in Edinburgh, Scotland, two other spots in the UK, Vigeland Park in Oslo, and, as yet to be seen, Havana, Cuba, Mexico City and Juarez, Mexico, and in Guatemala.

Lincolnian: Do you have other topics on your radar for the future after you have completed the Lincoln /science book?

David Kent: I have several books in my mental pipeline after the Lincoln/science book, including at least two more on specific aspects of Lincoln’s career. In January I hope to discuss a Lincoln book project in which LGDC members would be participants. More on that soon.

Lincolnian: Anything you wish to add on these subjects for our readers?

David Kent: I have to say that my membership in the Lincoln Group of DC has been an inspiration for me. I thank LGDC members in the acknowledgements of this current book and have benefited tremendously from the interactions I’ve had in our monthly dinners, the monthly book club discussion group, and various tours and symposiums. I’m especially indebted to current LGDC President John Elliff and the rest of the team on the LGDC Board for support and encouragement. I’m looking forward to continued service and participation in LGDC.

For more information on the Lincoln Group of DC, check out this post.

[Part 1 of the Lincolnian interview appeared here last week]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

An Author in Our Midst – The Lincolnian Interview, Part 1

I was recently interviewed by The Lincolnian, a quarterly publication of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia. The interview was published in the Summer 2017 issue and Part 1 is recreated below. Part 2 will appear here next week.

**********************

David J KentMost Lincoln Group members know by now that David Kent, our Vice-President for Programs, is an accomplished author, one who has penned successful books on such figures as Tesla and Edison. His most recent publication spotlights Lincoln himself. David agreed to be interviewed for The Lincolnian regarding his new Lincoln book and his writing career. Here are the contents of that interview.

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaLincolnian: You have a new publication out – Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America – tell us about this publication – what was the inspiration behind the book, what is/are the major themes, what did you aim to accomplish for the audience, who is the targeted audience?

David Kent: I have been interested in Abraham Lincoln since as far back as I can remember, so when the publisher of my Tesla and Edison books decided to branch out into history, I jumped at the chance. Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America is directed at a general audience and so spans Lincoln’s entire life, from his days growing up on frontier farms to the crisis of the Civil War and the Lincoln legacy. The goal is to reach out to a broad readership in a way that is visually appealing. The strife of this past year in politics shows that there are many in our nation who lack a good understanding of history, including the critical time period in which Lincoln lived. As the subtitle suggests, I bring out how Lincoln’s decisions helped deal with our nation’s greatest challenges, and how he kept the Union together despite all forces trying to tear it apart.

Lincolnian: What research did you undertake in writing the book? In doing so, did you learn anything that surprised you?

David Kent: I feel like I’ve been researching Lincoln my whole life. I read 20-30 Lincoln-related books every year, along with a wide variety of other genres. I also review primary materials – letters, speeches, newspaper articles – to get both a broad and deep understanding of his life and how he thinks. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me because I’ve been researching it for another book, but I’ve always been enthralled with Lincoln’s interest in science and technology.

Lincolnian: In your opinion, what information in the book will surprise the reader?

David Kent: I think general readers will be surprised by how active Lincoln was in politics from his first days in New Salem. He really did become the leader of the Whigs in Illinois, and without him the Republican party of Illinois likely wouldn’t have become as powerful as quickly as it did. For Lincoln scholars I bring out how Lincoln understood that the de facto expansion of slavery enabled by the Compromise of 1850, Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Dred Scott decision triumvirate would lead to war. Lincoln pressed the issue knowing the crisis was unavoidable.

Lincolnian: Your book contains many images – photographs, graphics, etc. Describe a few examples that will be new to the audience or most captivating.

David Kent: The incredible publishing team and designer have pulled together amazing imagery for the book. These images were selected to bring out the stories told in the text and make the book a visual as well as an intellectual experience. Images range from photographs of the time period, paintings of key events, political cartoons presented in key newspapers, letters and documents, and even comic book pages. One image from a comic book, for example, highlights how good Lincoln was with his own children and those in the neighborhood, often getting down on his hands and knees to play with them. The images really bring out the life described in the text.

Lincolnian: What similarities – and differences – does this book have as compared to your previous works on Tesla and Edison? What similarities in character, traits, etc. did you find that Tesla and Edison shared with Lincoln – and what were the major differences you found in your subjects?

David Kent: The style of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America is the same as my previous books on Tesla and Edison. Those two books were very successful for the publisher (and me), so the publisher wanted to branch out into similarly-styled books in history. Because of my lifelong interest, I suggested Lincoln and they agreed. The three books highlight the human side of science and history. While very different in many ways, all three men were innovators. Tesla was a big picture guy, always wanting to change the world with a radical new idea. Edison was a details guy, always tinkering and improving on existing ideas. Lincoln was a little of both. In the courtroom and in politics he could remember and exploit key details while at the same time always keeping his eye on the bigger picture. And like Tesla and Edison, Lincoln too was an inventor, the only president in our history to have obtained a patent.

Lincolnian: Where can we find the book /who is the publisher?

David Kent: The book is in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide (if you don’t see it, ask for it; it’s there). You can also order it online at BarnesandNoble.com. I sell signed, first edition copies through my own website (http://www.davidjkent-writer.com/buy-the-books/). I’ll be the speaker at LGDC’s December 12th luncheon meeting and will have copies to sell there. The book is published by Fall River Press, an imprint of Sterling Publishing in New York.

[Part 2 of the Lincolnian interview will appear next week]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Fall Events at the Lincoln Group of DC

Lincoln Group of DCThe Lincoln Group of DC is one of the premier Abraham Lincoln associations in the country and I feel privileged to be a part of the executive board. This post highlights some of the upcoming events in the DC area that you don’t want to miss.

October 14: Special event at the African American Civil War Museum, 1925 Vermont Ave, NW. The United States Colored Troops in the Civil War. 1-3 pm. Presenters are historian, teacher and reenactor Michael Schaffner, and fellow presenter high school student Hugh Goffinet, who will describe soldiers’ lives during the Civil War and demonstrate the manual of arms. The program is free and open to the public.

More information: http://www.lincolngroup.org/oct2017.html

October 28: Our monthly Book Discussion Group, Ford’s Theatre, DC. This is the final day of our discussion of “President Lincoln: The Duty of a Statesman” by William Lee Miller. We will be choosing the next book to be discussed, so now is the time to join the group. Free and open to all Lincoln Group members. 10 am – 12 pm.

More information: http://www.lincolngroup.org/book-discussion.html

October 30: Special Event: A Theodore Roosevelt Salute to President Abraham Lincoln, Arlington Hilton Hotel. A stunning performance by Teddy Roosevelt look-alike and presenter, Joe Wiegand, who has performed at the George W. Bush White House and with the Mt. Rushmore Presidents at the National Archives. A must-see!  6-9 pm. Reservations required.

More information: http://www.lincolngroup.org/oct30-2017.html

December 12: Members Book Night. Join three of the Lincoln Group’s premier authors as they discuss their books: David J. Kent (Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America), Elizabeth Smith Brownstein (Lincoln’s Other White House), and Car Adams (Nance). 6-9 pm. Reservations required.

More information: http://www.lincolngroup.org/dec2017.html

There is so much more going on in the Lincoln Group of DC, so check out our web page and join us at one of our events.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

I Am Not a Know Nothing – Abraham Lincoln Lessons for Today

Lincoln #TakeAKnee

In an 1855 letter to his dear friend Joshua Speed. Lincoln said:

“I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be?…Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics.’ When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty—to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy.”

As the Kansas-Nebraska Act was renewing Lincoln’s interest in politics, his Whig Party was coming to an end. The party had weakened and fragmented when Whig leaders such as Henry Clay and Daniel Webster died in 1852. Southern Whigs supported the Kansas-Nebraska Act because it allowed the expansion of slavery, while Northern Whigs strongly opposed it. This North-South split mirrored the divided Democratic Party in 1860, but in 1854 southerners generally shifted to the Democratic Party or joined the new “American Party.” The latter were also known as the Know Nothings because of their secrecy and nativist bigotry against blacks, as well as Irish and Catholic immigrants. Former northern Whigs, including Lincoln, along with anti-slavery Democrats, formed a new Republican party. The Republican Party’s primary focus was to prevent the expansion of slavery into the territories.

In October 1854 Lincoln rose to the forefront of the Republicans with a speech he gave first in Springfield, and then a dozen days later in Peoria. Newspapers published the second presentation, so it came to be known as the Peoria speech. Lincoln spoke out emphatically against slavery and oppression.

Today, Lincoln almost universally ranks at the top of any “best president of all time” poll, with both Democrats and Republicans claiming the mantle of Lincoln. Ironically, the Democratic Party has a clearer case. Republicans in his time were for inclusiveness, personal freedom, and positive government action. Lincoln championed federally funded internal improvements to build infrastructure, at one point arguing, “The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot, so well do, for themselves.” Today the Democratic Party reflects these characteristics more than the Republican Party does, partly because during the 1960s many in the South left the Democratic Party in protest of Democratic support for civil rights. Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” completed the transition, effectively switching the focal points of the two major parties compared to their Civil War–era characteristics.

What would Lincoln say today?

Most likely he would fight for the protection of every American’s civil rights. In January of his last year, Lincoln pressed hard for passage of what would become the 13th amendment to the Constitution. This amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, thus codifying the proclamation’s goal that all slaves “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” This was followed in 1868 by the 14th amendment, which granted U.S. citizenship to former slaves and instructed states to protect all citizens’ rights and privileges and guarantee all persons equal protection under the law. This effectively overturned the Dred Scott decision. The 15th amendment in 1870 prohibited the use of race, color, or previous condition of servitude (aka slavery) in determining which citizens could vote. In a little-known position taken early in his political career, Lincoln had suggested the right to vote might be extended to women. The 19th amendment in 1920 finally accomplished this goal, prohibiting the government from denying women the right to vote on the same terms as men.

Lincoln repeatedly returned to the Declaration of Independence, reiterating the basic self-evident truth that “all men are created equal,” meaning all men and women, with no regard to gender, race, color, religion, orientation, preference, or country of origin. Lincoln would stand up to despotism, speaking out against attempts by political leaders to foment racism, dictate what is “acceptable” or “unacceptable” forms of protest against institutional oppression, or attacks on the constitutional rights of all Americans.

[The above is adapted from my book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.]

[Photo credit: Nathan Greene Studios. Thanks to Bob Willard for finding it. See: http://www.nathangreene.com/product/233/17]

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

[

Lincoln book hits #1 on Barnes and Noble

My newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, recently hit #1 on the Barnes and Noble website in its subcategory.

Lincoln bestseller on Barnes and Noble

This is no small achievement. The book has benefited from a wide public interest in Abraham Lincoln, and although it has slipped back to a few spots since then, the book continues to be received well.

Most gratifying is that so many of my fellow Lincoln scholars and aficionados have found the book appealing. My goal was to maintain scholarly integrity while making Lincoln’s story accessible to the a broad, general audience. Based on the response, it seems I have achieved that objective.

There is plenty of other Lincoln book related news in the wings, most of which I can’t yet talk about. But I hope to have some updates in the not too distant future.

Preview the book here, and click on the links below to purchase.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Reflections of a Science Traveler

Kotor, MontenegroToday marks the fourth anniversary of resigning my consulting job to pursue a career science traveling. Recently I caught up with a former colleague who still works at the old firm. We hadn’t spoken in a long time so she asked me whether I had any regrets about my decision. Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied: “No regrets whatsoever.” I left with my eyes open and have never once looked back on that former life.

My new life has given me plenty to behold, including more time to travel and write.

I generally add a few new countries to my list each year. This year had fewer trips but farther destinations. I was in Seoul, South Korea during the election of a new president (to replace the one impeached and indicted), all while North Korea was haphazardly tossing around missiles. Then on to Beijing, China, which was hosting over 30 world leaders (including Vladimir Putin) for the One Belt One Road Summit. Soon I’ll be in roaming around Australia and New Zealand. The 12-hour drive to and from New England squeezed in between these two exotic locations seems tame in comparison. Another New England trip and Gettysburg are likely in the fall.

Writing has included the release of my newest book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America. This is my third book with Fall River Press, all now in Barnes and Noble stores. I also have two e-books available on Amazon.com (see links at end). My first book, Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity, is going into its 8th printing this fall and has been translated into several foreign languages. Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World is still in stores and may also get a new printing soon.

Meanwhile, I’m working on two new books – one on a specific area of Abraham Lincoln’s interests, and the other a travel memoir (like Paul Theroux or Bill Bryson). By January I might have a third book in progress.

My former colleague also asked a second question: do I get to read a lot? In fact, that has been one of the unanticipated benefits. I’ve increased the number of books read from maybe 50 to over 100 books per year, and broadened my reading interests considerably. Traveling helps. While I don’t read much while I’m on the ground (where my time is spent exploring), the long flights and airport time are ideal for finishing off the latest novel or taking notes on various science, Lincoln, or biography books.

I also have time to do research. I spend some time at the Library of Congress and National Archives, plus make ample use of their online collections and other electronic resources. With nearly 1200 Lincoln books in my own home library, there is no shortage of background material. The travel itself is also research. I regularly incorporate in my books the knowledge gained while traveling, and future books will involve more travel-related topics.

This past several years I’ve been actively involved with the Lincoln Group of DC. As the Vice President of Programs I schedule speakers for our monthly dinner meetings and join the Board in planning – and participating in – a wide variety of other events. Next year I’ll, well, it’s still to be determined what I’ll be doing next year, but likely I’ll still be deeply involved in Abraham Lincoln.

So what will happen in 2018? My tentative plans include considerably more travel to places I’ve never been, including (I hope) to my 6th continent and beyond my 50th country. My writing goal is to finish the Lincoln science book so that it will be in stores no later than early 2019. I’m also piecing together a travel memoir tentatively titled Patagonia Summer that will combine travel, history, and science. The third possible book will likely be a compendium with my Lincoln colleagues. There is still some uncertainty in these plans as experience has taught me that “the best laid plans” often change dramatically.

One thing is for sure. No regrets whatsoever.

See my previous “Reflections” for 2014, 2015, 2016. I’ll likely do a final “reflections” next year on my fifth anniversary, after which I’ll skip to five or ten year reports. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be too famous to write by then. 🙂

[Photo is at Kotor, Montenegro]

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Abraham Lincoln and the Smithsonian Institution

National Academy of Sciences founders

Joseph Henry was not initially impressed with Abraham Lincoln. Barely a month after Lincoln settled into his new office in “that big white house,” the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution made his introductory visit. Henry’s inherent misgivings about the frontier politician were reinforced as he waited impatiently in the anteroom for an hour while a steady stream of the lowermost job seekers filed in and out of the President’s office. When finally allowed to see him, Henry thought Lincoln appeared careworn. After exchanging routine pleasantries, Henry explained the new president’s official role as prime overseer of the Smithsonian and invited Lincoln to attend the next regents’ meeting. But the president seemed disinterested. Henry’s conversation with the Lincoln, with Secretary of State William Seward present, was uncomfortable and brief. Henry felt disappointed by this country lawyer from the West and walked away feeling the President was “withdrawn and ill at ease.” Was Lincoln the uneducated, uncultured boor rumors made him out to be, one who could never understand the high intellectual ambitions of the Smithsonian Institution? Was the open dislike of Henry’s family for the man who General McClellan would later call an uncouth “gorilla” justified?

Granted, Henry thought, Lincoln was preoccupied with more urgent matters. Fort Sumter had fallen on April 12th and, as longtime friend Captain Montgomery Meigs informed Henry while they both waited for an audience, Lincoln was weighing various options for quickly ending the rebellion of seceded states. Perhaps he should not be so quick to judge, thought Henry, and indeed, over time he would come to appreciate Lincoln’s folksy intellect. Lincoln himself would rapidly come to see the importance of the Smithsonian and science for the war effort…and the future of the Union.

This was the beginning of a remarkable relationship.

[The above is a work in progress.]

[Painting at the top by Albert Herter in 1924, depicting President Abraham Lincoln signing the Charter of the Academy of Sciences in 1863. Henry is third from left. Courtesy National Academy of Sciences.]

David J. Kent is an avid science traveler and the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Win a Free Copy of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America

Lincoln: The Man Who Saved AmericaYou now have a second chance to win a copy of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America on Gooreads. I’ll even sign it for you.

Entering is simple: Go here and scroll down to the “Win a Copy of this Book” section and click on the “Enter Giveaway” Button. This Giveaway ends August 27th.

Or just click here to reach the Giveaway page directly and enter to win.

Be sure to check the box for “Also Add this Book to My Book Shelf” so you will be automatically notified of the next free giveaway.

You can preview the book – check it out here.

It can also be purchased directly on the Barnes and Noble website as a hardcover book or a Nook e-book. If you don’t have a Nook e-reader, no problem; simply download the Nook App onto any smart device – iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire, and all tablets, laptops, desktops – wherever you read your books.

A new first edition hardcover can also be ordered directly from me on this website. I’ll sign and inscribe it to your wishes. Check out my “Buy the Books” page to order all five of my books.

Thanks for all your support. Be sure to enter the Goodreads Giveaway, and watch out for more Giveaways coming soon.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Abraham Lincoln – The Dogmas of the Quiet Past are Inadequate for the Stormy Present

Lincoln Saved America comicIn December 1862 President Abraham Lincoln was in the midst of a Civil War, his Emancipation Proclamation was due to take effect in a few weeks, and he was struggling to maintain some sense of our national meaning. What he wrote in his message to Congress (equivalent to today’s State of the Union address) gives us lessons on how we should handle our current crisis.

We can succeed only by concert. It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?”

We must, as a nation, stand up to tyranny, even that from within. The recent promotion of racism and neo-Naziism by the current administration is a disgrace to the nation, and it will take all of us citizens, from all sections of the country, all parties, all colors, all religions, all socioeconomic statuses, and all beliefs, to reverse this descent.

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

We, all of us, must stand up to racism, bigotry, misogyny, and dishonesty. We must stand up to hatred as one, as a whole nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history.

Republican leaders in Congress must act in the best interests of the nation. Democrats in Congress and across the nation have vehemently spoken up against the promotion of bigotry, but Republicans control all branches of our government. Republicans set the stage by pandering to the very elements that created this administration. Thus, Republicans must be not only outspoken against it, but take action to reverse what they have wrought.

The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here — hold the power, and bear the responsibility.

Without action by Republicans and Democrats in Congress, without action by we as one nation indivisible, we are in danger of losing it all. Many years before he became president, Lincoln warned in a speech to the Young Men’s Lyceum in Springfield:

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.

The time has come to stand up against the approach of danger from within, as exemplified by the recent events in Charlottesville and the administration’s grotesque response to it. Lincoln believed in the rule of law and warned in that same Lyceum address about the dangers of mob rule. “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law,” Lincoln said.

We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.

The time is now. If he were alive today, Abraham Lincoln would be the first to speak out against bigotry and the mobocratic rule of this administration.

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

Should the 1864 Election be Postponed?

1864 ElectionA shocking poll conducted in June 2017 found that more than half of Republicans (52%) said they would support “a postponement of the next election if Trump called for it.” Such a postponement would be anti-American and unprecedented. Indeed, during the U.S. Civil War there were some who advised Abraham Lincoln to postpone the 1864 election. He refused to do so:

We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us.

Lincoln forged ahead in 1864 despite his belief that he would lose the upcoming presidential election in November; he insisted the democratic process was what they were fighting for, and that the election would continue as planned.

Lincoln was so convinced he would lose reelection that on August 23, 1864, he wrote what has become known as the “blind memorandum:”

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward.

He folded the memorandum in half, asked each member of his perplexed cabinet to sign the back without reading it, then put it away for safekeeping.

Lincoln’s pessimism was justified, as the Democratic Party had selected Lincoln’s former General-in-Chief, George B. McClellan, as their nominee. While arrogantly ineffectual as a fighter, McClellan was beloved by his troops for the care he took to train and outfit them. Lincoln was afraid that too many of the troops, tired of war and eager to return home to the families, would leave the Republican Party to vote for their former commanding officer.

Republicans were so concerned they formed a coalition with some War Democrats and renamed themselves the National Union Party, which set as a primary platform position the continued pursuit of the war until unconditional Confederacy surrender. The platform also included a constitutional amendment for the abolition of slavery. In an effort to facilitate anticipated reassimilation of southern civilians into the Union, former Senator and current Military Governor of Tennessee—and staunch Unionist—Andrew Johnson was chosen to be Lincoln’s vice presidential running mate (a decision that would have significant postwar ramifications).

But the Democratic Party fragmented again. In 1860 it split between Northern and Southern Democrats, and now in 1864 it split between Peace and War Democrats. Some of the latter had joined with Republicans, but most remained in the Democratic Party. Peace Democrats drove the party platform, which proposed a negotiated peace with the South, the very scenario Lincoln warned of in his still-secret “blind memorandum.” Copperheads went even further, declaring the war a failure and demanding an immediate peace. Their own nominee, McClellan, rejected the peace platform, so the Democrats forced him to take on an avowed Copperhead, George Pendleton, as his vice presidential running mate.

In early September, Lincoln finally caught a break. Admiral David Farragut won the Battle of Mobile Bay, a quixotic Union campaign to capture the last harbor controlled by Confederates in the Gulf of Mexico. The harbor was protected by three onshore forts, three traditional wooden gunboats, and an imposing ironclad commanded by Roger Jones, the same man who had so impressively commanded the CSS Virginia against the USS Monitor in a battle of ironclads two years earlier. Mines (then called torpedoes) blocked the harbor entrance. Farragut became famous by being lashed to the rigging of the main mast and, according to legend, yelling, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

Soon afterward, William T. Sherman finally drew Confederate General John Bell Hood away from Atlanta, which allowed the Union to capture the Georgia capital. As northern newspapers praised the mighty successes at both Atlanta and Mobile Bay, Lincoln’s reelection chances suddenly looked more promising.

Indeed, by the time November arrived the election was not even close. The National Union Party received 55 percent of the popular vote (with only northern states voting, of course) to 45 percent for the Democratic Party. But the electoral vote was even more decisive: 212 for Lincoln and 21 for McClellan. Lincoln won 22 of the 25 northern states and was reelected in a landslide.

[The above is adapted from my new book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America.]

Check out my Goodreads author page. While you’re at it, “Like” my Facebook author page for more updates!

David J. Kent is the author of Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, now available. His previous books include 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.

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page. Share with your friends using the buttons below.

[Daily Post]