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tv   2021 Lincoln Prize  CSPAN  August 24, 2021 8:58pm-10:05pm EDT

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support c-span2 as a public service. ♪♪ >> middle and has four students, your opinion matters. submit your work to be heard video competition. be part of a national conversation by creating a documentary answering the question, how does the federal government impact your life? will find a video to explore federal policy or program that affects you and your community. c-span's competition has $100,000 in cash prizes you have a shot at the grand prize of $5000. the competition be received wednesday september 8. work rules and more information on how to get started, visit our website at student ♪♪ >> good evening and welcome.
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i am the senior high school new york city member of the student advisory board in american history. been accepted at several collegesge including georgetown, harvard, brown, john hopkins and boston university decide to buy fall. we can prizes one of the most tedious words and while we are sad not to be able to gather celebration in person, we are honored to take this program on my and 1000 teachers, students and history lovers across the country tonight we celebrate not one but twod distinguished winners, professor elizabeth, winner of the 2020 prize for help, professor david reynolds, winner of the 2021 prize for his book, a family can his time.
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you'll be hearing remarks from both tonight and there will be live q&a at the end of the program. additionally, will hear remarkst from jim office to do, the president of gatsby gettysburg college and a host of other distinguished members. ... at the bottom of the screen. i prom will begin with an invitation by scott higgins, a -- friend of the lincoln prize. scott, we turn to you for the invocation. >> good evening. i'm scott higgins and as a trustee of the lincoln prize i want to welcome you to our virtual celebration of the prize. behind me is a the prize.
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behind signing the emancipation proclamation which i'm proud to say we donated. it sits in front of stephen's sl named for thaddeus stevens. he was a longtime trustee in 1832 which the college was still. let's take a few minutes in prayer to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary worker to eminent historians. a sweeping narrative of the lucivil war and the bold new interpretation of the aims at the union and the confederacy and on this occasion we also take an important moment to recognize who passed away this
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year for his monumental contribution during american history and the garamond institute. and we pray for his partner and our partner for his continued progress. more than aaf century and a half after the lincoln era in the civil war, we pray for continued teaching scholarships and research of the lincoln era. we pray that the legacy of the men and women who lived and suffered the hardest of the war and injustices of oppression will be a shining light for future generations of americans and we pray that the ideals and the goals which inspired abraham lincoln and unity. cithe racism, strife and terrorm are brought together in peace
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and liberty and with hope and we ask your blessing on those that have joined us tonight. >> thank you, scott, for that invocation and i am president of the guilder lehrman institute of american history and on behalf of the board of the lincoln prize, let0t me welcome you to e 30th and 31st prize of the ceremony. in a year of exhaustion and webinar weariness, thank you all for taking the time to join us. we were forced to postpone our ceremony in 2020 but tonight we combined it with the 2021 award in special double presentation. we were able to do this thanks to the efforts of the prize administrator at gettysburg college and cassidy, the events manager at the gilder lehrman institute and thanks also to tht
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stamina and good nature of the lincoln prize jury who agreed to serve two years running professors caroline and university of virginia and the university of texas and the chair, professor and former president at the university of richmond and a trustee of the gilder lehrman institute. thank you all for making thee ceremony possible. normally, when we hold this event at the club of new york city, only about 250 people were able to attend. so, the silver lining to being virtual is that tonight we have more than 1,000 people in our audience. many of them are teachers and students tuning in the from every state in the union and a few from abroad. tonight the viewers will be able to hear two great historians, receive 50,000-dollar prizes and talk about their award-winning books. we owe this to lou lehrman who 30 years ago working with the professor at gettysburg college
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had the vision to create a 50,000-dollar book prize at the time when the pulitzer prize was only 5,000. the boldness of their vision has shaped the field of history and more broadly the landscape of the book prizes ever since. when he died three weeks short ofay his 80th birthday but we wl hear a message tonight delivered by his son as many in the audience know, lou lehrman is not only a successful businessman, philanthropist and civic leader. he is himself a historian and widely published author whose many books include l peoria, 208 and lincoln and churchill statesmenr in war in 2018. together, the cofounder of the gilder lehrman institute and shaping force behind the chcollection which today lies at the heart of the programs and resources that the institute provides to the network of 29,000 schools and more than a 7 million k-12 students.
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with a sense of profound gratitude for all that he has helped to make o possible i turn now to his son, thomas lehrman, a trustee of the institute, for a brief message. after which, we will see a short video about the history of the lincoln prize. >> good evening. my name is thomas lehrman and i am happy to share these words of my father with you on the occasion of the gilder lehrman lincoln prize. you allri know how much our work together in this common cause means to him. we are grateful for your continued support. imagine now my father's unmistakable presence and voice before you. distinguished friends of the gilder lehrman institute, we at the institute find ourselves grateful to you for so many things. your investment, encouragement, belief in our educational purposes.
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we gather tonight to celebrate american history. one of the greatest stories ever told. we gather especially to honor my cofounder of the institute, richard gilder. my dear friends, you know well how dedicated we are to the study and teaching of american history. we aspire to the goal that every american citizen of whatever age will know and in brace the priceless patrimony we have inherited from generations past. let it also be said that we are committed to this mission, unselfconsciously, because we believe that the study and teaching of american history is one indispensable moral formation of confidence and responsiblee american citizens. both history majors at yale university long ago, we deeply believe that the teaching and study of american history must
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be the sesame that opens the garden path to every immigrant and citizen so that each can become an american in the full and thus the founding of the gilder lehrman institute of american history. thank you very much. ♪♪ at a time of strife and conflict, president abraham lincoln took the reins of leadership and reunited a fraction of america. the gilder lehrman lincoln prize started and has been awarded annually for the year's best work on the american civil war soldier or the american civil war era. though the inspired leadership of lewis lehrman, the lincoln
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prize committee has considered more than 3200 works that awarded more than $1.5 million in prizes over the last three decades. the award has honored scholars such as eric's owner, robert, doris kearns goodwin, and filmmakers steven spielberg and kim burn honored with the inaugural prize for the documentary masterpiece, the civil war as well as many others. the gilder lehrman lincoln prize has done a standard for scholarly awards and shines a bright light on the legacy of lincoln and the breath of his accomplishments as well as the era of the civil war. although america may change and grow, the words of abraham lincoln remain fresh. but now let the charity fall,
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let us drive on for the buying of the nations that do all which we achieve a just and lasting peace and with our nation. the gilder lehrman lincoln prize is sponsored jointly by the gilder lehrman institute of american institute at gettysburg college it is my privilege now to introduce the president of gettysburg college, a distinguished lawyer, editor of the law review while a student in the law school, a former appeals court clerk and federal prosecutor, bob for several years was the senior vice president and general counsel at harvard university where he led many university wide initiatives
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and was president trusted advisor. bob became the 15th president of gettysburg college in july, 2019. in the midst of his first year as president, covid struck and bob has been hero again very successful in his efforts to lead the college through this challenging time and as a member of the lincoln prize and i can tell you from personal observation he is an ardent and eloquent participant in the board's deliberations. to offer a few remarksks about e prize and the college, here is president bob. >> a good evening everyone. i'm president of gettysburg college and it is truly an honor to join you tonight for the special celebration. our college has had a long and strong relationship in the gilder lehrmaneh institute for a good many years and it's been a joy to be so intimately involved with the selection and
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presentation the lincoln prize not only recognizes the work of the scholarship but also has a way of shining a light on our shared past and honoring us all new understandings for how we navigate the challenges presented by the world today it's a sentiment that speaks to the education we seek to provide for our students at gettysburg college. at the college we provide our students with what we call the consequential education. one grounded inhe the belief tht knowledge of the past in any discipline or end ever is critical to the formation of a well reasoned and creative response to the present. and it's because of our past which found our community at the intersection of the defining moment in american history that we have a special capacity and d-day special obligation to forge the future of the society and democracy particularly in
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the most consequential times. as you know, the history of gettysburg college is deeply entwined in the events of 1863. events that tested the most fundamental values and indelibly shaped the course of the nation. on july 1, 1863, our college, then known as pennsylvania college, stood in the midst of the union and confederate forces. the great battle swept to the heart of the campus and the primary building at the time, pennsylvania hall, would serve as an academic and residential space for students with fees by confederates and used as a field hospital to treat the wounded soldiers in both. pennsylvania hall remains of the heart of the campus today. it's where my office is located in the service is a vivid reminder to me every day of how much this institutions history informs our values and aspirations for our future. following the battle, the historian turns to atl man by te
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name of david wells, a graduate of the class of 1851. he personally invited president lincoln to say, quote, a few appropriate remarks at the dedication of the cemetery and he and his wife hosted lincoln in their homes a year prior. the next morning on november 19th, 1863, our college students and faculty walked to the town square and followed president lincoln to the national cemetery to hear his iconic address firsthand. today our students retrace these steps each through a tradition we call the first year walk when they arrivek. at the cemetery, r students in their earliest days of gettysburg students here lincoln's words and reflect on what those will mean for them over the next four years as members of the distinct academic community and indeed how they can lift the promise of those words throughout their lives.
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for me it is clear that consequential education is inspired by consequential places and our college is indeed situated in one of the most consequential places in our country. that matters and leaders like lincoln and eisenhower and so many others throughout our college histories have had a profound impact on who we are today and the change that we believe is possible. it's a legacy enforced by faculties like the gilder lehrman chair of civil war studies and history and it's a belief, strength in events like the annual lecture and civil war institute conference which are lincoln prize winners speak at each summer. in short, students come here to the college, to this place surrounded by history and opportunity to build in themselves and each other the responsibility and resolve to take up the great and unfinished work of making a better
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indeed, consequentially educated people create for themselves consequential lives and we are honored that the gilder lehrman institute and lincoln prize continues to play an important part in these efforts. again i want to congratulate elizabeth garrett and david reynoldsh for this superb publication and especially acknowledge our gratitude for all he did during his distinguished life including his support of the lincoln prize and to thank lewis lehrman and the commitment to improving ourde understanding of the world through the study. last, a big thanks to all of you so much for joining us today in this special event. i look forward to connecting with you at the gettysburg college in the years ahead. take care now. >> thank you. my name is sebastian lopez, a senior in new york city and a
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member of the student advisory council at the institute of american history. i am pleased to announce i've been accepted into three colleges including syracuse university, manhattan college and will be starting in the fall. i'm honored to introduce the next guest. lincoln prize professor of history and new york university and was the winner of the 2016 gilder lehrman lincoln prize for her book morning mac lincoln and will be presenting the finalists for the 2020 lincoln prize. take it away, martha. >> thank you, sebastian, and good evening. my name is martha and it's my honor tonight to introduce the finalists for the 2020 lincoln fiprize. the finalists were chosen by a jury of distinguished scholars from a pool of more than 100 bucks. named a finalist for this prestigious award, these
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historians joined in a group that includes the very best writing over the last 30 years. the first finalist for the 2020 lincoln prize was eric phone or for his book the second founding how the civil war and reconstruction remade the constitution that changes the arc of the foundational reconstruction amendments for the 13th, 14th and 15th amendment. the second finalist was matthew for his book exposing slavery, democracy, human bondage and the birth of modern politics in america. for her book they were her property white women and slave owners in the american south which examines white women's participation in the slave market and how they used it for
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economic andco social advantage. the fourth finalist was caleb mcdaniel for his book sweet taste of liberty a true story of slavery and restitution in america whichit tells the extraordinary story of henrietta woods, and enslaved woman who fought for justice and reparations. the fifth finalist was jesse owens for her book girl in a black-and-white of the story of mary and mildred williams and the abolition movement, which looks at how photographs of an enslaved 7-year-old child who passed as white galvanized sympathy for the abolitionist cause. the sixth finalist was joseph for his book illusions of emancipation, the pursuit of freedom and equality and the twilight of slavery, which examines emancipation and its aftermath through the perspective and experiences of african-americans. the seventh finalist is the 2020 lincoln prize with david for his
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book raising the white flag how they defined the civil war which etunpacks the social, political and cultural meanings of surrender during the civil war. congratulations to all of the 2020 finalists and i am now going to turn things back over to the president of the gilder lehrman institute. >> presenting the 2020 lincoln prize, it is my pleasure to introduce the fellow trustee. john is a tremendously successful businessman, civic leader and philanthropist who headss up more boards and causes then you could imagine. among them at various times, the nationalou park foundation, the battlefield, the university of the virginia board of visitors and for 15 years, the texas historical commission. he only gave that up to accept a presidential appointment as the chair of the national advisory council on historic preservation
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where heer served for nine year. john is a longtime trustee and supporter of lehrman where in partnership with first lady laura bush he created the history teacher program operating in all 50 states and now in its 17th year. he's also the founder of the center for civil war history and uva with its illustrative programs. when the jury selected the historian is the winner of the 2020 lincoln prize, we immediately asked john if he would represent us in presenting the prize to her. here to do that right now is our good friend, john. >> good evening, everyone. thank you for that kind introduction. tonight, it is my honor to join you to present the 2020 lincoln prize on behalf of gilder and lou lehrman.
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it worked on abraham lincoln, the american civil a war soldier or the american civil war era. tonight, the 2020 lincoln prize is awarded to elizabeth barrett for her book armies of deliverance a new history of the civil war. at the center for civil war history located at the university of virginia i've had an interest in the study since i was a young boy that all started with civil war battlefield tours and as a young undergraduate starting at uva in the fall of 1964, i was surprised when registering for classes that there were no history classes on mid-19th century america i made
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up my mind if i had the capacity i would work to establish mid-19th century history classes at uva. i'm very proud of the work the now center of uva and the role that it plays in the study of the american civil war. liz has played a significant role in helping to shape the programming at the center. she is a very talented and dedicated teacher and both the undergraduate and graduate levels. she has traineded a number of excellent students at uva and many have sought admission to the program specifically to work with her. she's published five books about the american civil war that underscored her impressive range of interests and she has received numerous accolades and recognition forgn her books.
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her writing and teaching have made a significant impact and she has played a critical role in sustaining the outstanding reputation in the field of civil war eraa history. tonight, we recognize and celebrate her outstanding scholarship of the civil war era. her book provides a thorough and insightful and very readable history of thend war itself. congratulations to our 2020 lincoln prize winner, for the armies of deliverance a new history of the civil war. congratulations and thank you, everyone. >> thank you so much, john. i am profoundly grateful for this award and for the opportunity to address you all tonight. and i extend my congratulations to my fellow honoree and to all of the wonderful finalists. if ever there was a moment to celebrate the publico mindedness
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of the gilder lehrman institute and support for the country's history educators, that moment is now. we have been reminded again and again we need to make our collective scholarship and teaching acceptable to theen general public. the unresolved issues at the heart of the american civil war, the legacies of slavery and freedom are the issues of our time and america has never needed its history educators its k-12 teachers, librarians and archivists, museums with national parks, colleges, universities, a generation of student teachers. i set out to ride it with public ooutreach in mind. it is a synthesis meant to convey the analytical insight and modern sensibility of the war. scholarship in the 21st century. the title t of the book captures
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its argument that the theme of deliverance is a key to understanding the warnings ofhe abraham lincoln and of the union soldiers that marched off to war in 1861 believing their mission was to save the southern people from confederate destitute. they plan to be an adaptable seem that flew like a magnet to the cause and enabled abraham lincoln to forge a broad coalition for winning the civil war. i try in the book to explain the emotional appeal of deliverance rhetoric particularly the impact on the soldier motivation. anddi i tried to explain how it was the unionists persisted in believing that they saved the south even in the face of massive evidence the confederates didn't want to be saved. my book concludes alternately that the deliverance rhetoric helped the union win the war but failed to convince them to accept peace or freedom on the
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union's terms. as i research about the armies of deliverance, three particular insights were central to my thinking and the union were complex political construct internally divided by faultlines of race, class gender ethnicity, religion and so on doing so is profoundly distorting and anti-confederate southerners, southern unionists were crucial to the union victory and indeed and aimic of my back was to highlight the role of black olsoutherners in lincoln's coalition and the ways that the liberated were in fact the liberators. this was given an impetus by my
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hometown ofer charlottesville virginia. even before the shocking violence of august 2017, researchers and educators in charlottesville have been hard at work recovering a suppressed history of black unionism in the region. the efforts to recover were redoubled after the attacks on the city and the efforts have made a difference in the recognition of the fact that over half of the population and county and the fact many black men thought in the union regimen the city now celebrates march 3rd as liberation and freedom day to mark the moment in 1865 when the union forces took possession of charlottesville and brought liberation to t the region. the message of course is that public history conducted collectively by the wide range of students and educators and researchers have afforded us
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with a new lens of viewing our civic life. a second way in which the modern scholarship informed my book was the conviction that the grand narratives are more compelling when they include a wide range of voices and experiences and blend the range of historical methodologies. more than ever now and before the civil warve historians integrate the event of the battlefront and use the various methods for studying the past. i was determined in the army of deliverance to the experiences and voices of women throughout the narrative not only for the various rolesf they play as nurses, reformers, spies, teachers and so on but for the salience of the commentary on political matters. i was also determined to interweave the public pronouncements of opinion makers and politicians with a private
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reflection of civilians and soldiers in their personal letters and correspondence and so on so that i could reveal how the ideologies are internalized in people's identities. perhaps the most illuminating research discovery i made in writing the book was that the theme of deliverance was ubiquitous in the letters that the union soldiers wrote home to their families from countless battlefields, even as they were surrounded by evidence of the war and the brutality they had in other words deeply internalized the idea that they could change southern hearts and minds. the third and final illustration of the ways in which my book reflects b the modern scholarshp and its insight with sensibility is its rejection between the union and confederacy there was aa right side and wrong side.
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armies of deliverance is meant to help us appreciate the meaning of douglas' famous words and the continued relevance. douglas said there's a right side and a wrong side as reconstruction was running around on the souls of racism and recalcitrant. in insisting that the right side won the war, douglas wasn't claiming that all of the union causes blameless indeed douglas had spent his life fighting a two front war against the southern a slavery and persistent racial discrimination in the north. what he meant was that the civil war was fundamentally a war of ideas between the old and the new slavery and freedom barbarism andnd civilization. the conflict was so bitter because the ideas that drove it were so sharply opposed.
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one would like to imagine the 21st century americans could readily agree that the right side won the war the equivalency the union and confederacy are equally deserving has made a comeback in the american culture. so i would like to close by askingng as history educators ad informed citizens to guard against such false equivalencies. my book emphasizes theasiz fundamental idealism of the union at work. i am not claiming any more than douglas did that all northerners were safe and all southerners were demons but after we have accounted for the war and access for the cost, for the human suffering and infallibility and cruelty on both sides it remains irrefutable that on the central issue of slavery, union and
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confederate ideology were starkly opposed. union ideology was an emphasis on free labor and majority rule and its insistence that slaveholders should no longer rule the country. but t it's framework in which change and progress were possible, not inevitable, not easy, but possible. figures like frederick douglass and harriet tubman in the face of adversity had cracked open the door to change. confederate ideology by contrast with its defense to slavery and the political supremacy of slaveholders they sought to close the door of freedom. the union caused frederick douglass invoking the war of ideas based upon the broadest and grandest declaration of human rights the world ever heard or read and based upon the
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denial of all rights. the right side won the war and it falls on us still to fulfill the promise of the victory. thanks. >> hello, everyone. my name is addison and i'm a junior and member of the student advisory council of the institute of american history. i'm honored at the game next to guest this evening will be acknowledging the 2021 guilder lehrman lincoln prize. larry is a businessman and civic leader and getting through college and a member of the guilder lehrman lincoln prize which ultimately determines the prize winners. we are honored to have him with us tonight. please tell us about the 2021 finalists. >> thank you and good evening. it is a privilege to be here with you tonight andht first-evr online lincoln prize event. in the year marked by the national crisis and division,
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scholarship dealing in the legacy reminds us unity as possible to great leadership and it is my honor to acknowledge the 2021 finalists whose work contributes to preserving the legacy the first finalist runaway slaves to mexico and the road to the civil war which examines how mexico's abolition of slavery in 1837 and it's an s increasingly radical antislavery policy helped more in the united states. the second finalist was the ambitions, time for post civil warut world which looks at how e leading thinkers in the postwar nation and its relationship in the united states placed its in the global order. the third finalist for the 2021 prize for her book the women's
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fight the civil war battle for home, freedom and nation which provides a comprehensive history of women's lives and contributions during the civil war and underscores how women were essentially and fully engaged throughout the war. the fourth finalist for 2021 was kenneth w whether climate and the american civil war which investigates the ways in which weather and climate shape thef outcomes of the battles and campaigns. congratulations to all of the 2021 finalists and now i'm going to turn things back over to introduce the next guest. >> hello again. the next speaker is valerie rockefeller who will be presenting the award to the 2021 guilder lehrman lincoln prize center. valerie has been a trustee at the institute for five years and is one of the most active and generous supporters.
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a former classroom teacher who served the board of teachers college at columbia university, valerie is a major civic leader that shares the board of the rockefeller fund. a private foundation advancing social change that contributes to a more sustainable world. valerie will now introduce the lincoln prize. >> i'm honored to introduce the winner of the 2021 guilder lehrman prize. david is a rhode island native that received degrees from amherst college and uc berkeley and taught american literature and american studies at northwesternun university, new york university, rutgers university and peru college. since 2006 he's been a professor at the center of the city university of new york where he teaches english and american studies. he is the author or editor of 16 books and his books have won the bancroft prize, the christian award, the ambassador book award and the outstanding book award. in one of his books was a finalist for the book critics
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circle award. his fifth book, abraham lincoln and his time is a beautifully written life of lincoln said in the cultural and social context of his time. "the new york times" book review described it as a prestigious rendered exposition of the character and thought of the president in the cultural and social forces swirlingf during his lifetime and "the wall street journal"ll deemed it a marvelous cultural biography that captures lincoln and all of his historical fullness. the jury noted through the innovative research, reynolds invoked the studies that played key roles in his life and in the encyclopedic knowledge of the religion, literature and politics allowed him to populate lincoln's nation and its rich and unprecedented detail. it's a great pleasure that i on behalf of the guilder lehrman institute of american i history present the 2021 guilder lehrman lincoln prize to david reynolds. congratulations. now i turn it over to professor reynolds to tell us about his
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book. >> thank you so much for those kind remarks and thanks to the guilder lehrman institute for this wonderful recognition. to the others on the committee, i truly appreciate it and last year's winner so wonderfully earlier about the mission of the institute and its outreach t to high schools. congratulations to her. the background of my book i want to mention who circulated a book proposal and one paragraph caught the eye of the lawyers at penguin. we discussed those and i realized i had a book inside of
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me that had been growing years and years. scott kind of pulled it out of me l and thanks so much. where i teach at the university of new york, stimulating scholarly environments from the student cohort to the faculty members to thehe administration thank you so much and professors in the history program. david who were kind enough still on the screen i still didn't believe it and i gave wonderful insights and edits andgh so for. i want to thank wilson who also
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read the manuscript and above all, my family who stuck by me through thick and thin and it was a great challenge and also great fun. my wife was working on her book when my manuscript was finished, she sat down and very carefully read through chapter by chapter was just a wonderful commentator. so thank you, thank you so much. walt whitman and his wonderful eulogy written out after the death of lincoln describes lincoln as the great western star illuminating the landscape and in a sense, that's what lincoln always was to me, this
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kind of beautiful, wonderful star but also a little bit removed and someone inaccessible. it was the greatest literary period in history. emerson, thoreau and then the wonderful figures of frederick douglass, harriet beecher stowe and of course there was john brown, william lloyd garrison. walt whitman in 1856 fantasized about a president coming from across the alleghenies from the west and he didn't know about lincoln at all but he said
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shrewd working person, honest and i wish he had stuck across the alleghenies and went into the white - house. he is sold as honest abe and lincoln didn't particularly like that name nor did he like mr. president or mr. lincoln or anything like that. but hehe did say i know i wasn't going to get elected without the image and it's really about the intersection between him and what got w him elected, which ws
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his knowledge of this america.ary he said there is no hero in history that encompassed culture from the very highest to the lowest. lincoln could recite by the page and many other poets. not to brag because the lines meant something to him and everything in between the sappy parlor songs of culture. at the same time he stated he believed in the individual's capacity to shape, to intern feedback into culture and for the individual to shape so my book is about that whole
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interchange between him and his surrounding culture and how that guided him into the presidency and the civil war and it was the nation divided of course over slavery and in i that division e was compared often with the famous tight rope walker, charles london, who went back and forth across niagara falls, backwards, forwards, on chains, in the stilts. many cartoons portrayed and a few times he compared himself and people would say can't you go faster on slavery? would you tell them to tilt this way or that, to the left or to the right? i had to stay centered here. if i don't some people would say too fast and if i don't, something that is going to happen for example we could lose
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one of the states. if we lose kentucky, we are going to lose everything. so i have to say. and he was also confronted with a culture that was turbulent, rowdy and fragmented. he once called america a mob autocracy particularly the mobs that were attacking african-americans and immigrants and also abolitionists and he really called for a strict respect of positive law in that case and also a fragmented nation full of such spiritualism and know nothing and utopian socialism and free love and on and on. he was very much aware of all of these but he said and these were his words, we have to concentrate on one.
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douglas, and that was the possible spread, the threatened spread of slavery to the west that was opened up by stephen douglas when he called for the popular sovereignty in the western territories. lincoln put his foot h down and said we have to stop douglas and that's what we have to concentrate on. and he did that so marvelously throughout the civil war. finally, what was initially the war to preserve the union and as was said earlier for deliverance became an award specifically tod get rid of slavery, which fortunately, lincoln lived to see with the passage of the 13th amendment. it passed congress on just a few months before he was assassinated. so, he did look and then became the first president to publicly endorse the vote for african americans. so, and one thing that helped him a lot was poetry.
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he loved poetry and on april 9th, 1865 when he was on a asboat from virginia to washington, and that was the day that lisa rented a grand and everybody was saying in effect mission accomplished. we wanted. he preferred to read poetry for a few hours and was poetry about death. it spoke to him and he was thinking perhaps about the 750,000 or 800,000 people who died in the civil war. that's where his thoughts were. it wasn't about how great i am or the north is. it was an outreach through poetry and it is after all the more channeled concentrated language l and focuses the feelg and meaning so wonderfully and his greatest speeches are poems that are short like the gettysburg address, a little over 200 words, second inaugural address which is 700 odd words,
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but they are really poetic and what is left with us is an example of the language the better angels of the nature, malice towards none of the people by the people and for the people. l this isti language that still survives. and in his honor, i guess since he loved poetry so much, i would like to recite the poem of langston hughes, the great harlem renaissance poet who in 1926 shortly about four years after the lincoln memorial ran the wonderful marvelous statute that opened and langston hughes wrote this poem. it's called washington monument, lincoln monument. let's o go see abe sitting in te marble in the moonlight. nsitting lonely in the marble in
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the moonlight. quiet with 10,000 centuries old abe, quiet for a million years and yet a voice forever against the timeless walls of time. thank youre so much. we are now in the q and a portion of the program. i would like to remind audience members you can enter using the button at thehe bottom of the screen. we will kick things off with a question from the audience. first is for you professor. why did youou become a historia? >> that is a wonderful question. i was inspired by my parents who were both immigrants from turkey
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and germany and they felt they wanted to get to know the place they found themselves that happened to be northern virginia so they took me to the smithsonian institute to the various historic sites in the region and i remembered the smithsonian museum of history and civil war captured my imagination at a very young age. he was exposed to the artifacts in the site that really caught my attention and their own love for history and their own the se that u.s. history was important and as fascinating as their own backgrounds were, they inspired me to be immersed in the story.
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there's no substitute for getting to see and hold artifacts and imagine yourself in a place and so on. all historians are grateful to those who make that kind of tangible experience. >> thank you so much, professor. the next question this is for you, professor. what surprised you most during your research? >> i think what surprised me was too many opinions of lincoln are just formed from today's perspective. particularly in the w early speeches whenn he was in illinois, which is kind of a racist environment when he was
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running for office against stephenn douglas and you try to pick certain things but he said at the time it was sort of backward. i was really surprised by his closeness to african-americans that stretch from springfield when he lived in the neighborhoodne where there were some 20 african-americans right through his presidency where frederick douglass met him in the white house and m sojourner truth, the african-american feminist and martin delaney who was beyond black lives matter. he was a radical. they found him the least prejudice person they met and they were quite honest about that. they would publicly endorse the vote for african americans.
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>> thank you so much for that answer. the next question is for martha. what did researching and writing the book illuminate for you about the endeavor of changing the hearts and minds especially in the moment of polarization? >> i think that in a sense, this brings us back to lincoln to put forward over the course of the war a vision of the american reunion, one that i think grand would eventually take up after the presidency of andrew johnson in which he attempted to blend a sort of desire with the commitment to principle so we say lincoln midway through the war promulgate a policy of
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amnesty to confederates who seem ready to change their hearts and minds. this is a policy that's less well known in the emancipation policy but very important and essentially asked confederates to pledge future loyalty to the union and lincoln hoped to re-create some of the occupied states forta these pledges of future loyalty so that was an olive branch if you will but at the same time he stood by the principles. ththere were voices in the opposition party, the democrats for the negotiated peace, one in which the unions would perhaps give up and make concessions. perhaps there were some so-called democrats willing to go that far. lincoln wasn't willing to accept hpeace on his enemies terms.
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i wrote a book about the surrender and which i made the case that grand and lincoln were on the same page and that was to say we can be magnanimous about we occupy the high ground and our magnanimity is intended to accept and essentially the message was we don't want to punish you, we want you to change and the message back is that confederates would consider the demand for change in the form of punishment alas. >> thank you for the thoughtful answer. the next question is for professor reynolds. howto much more is to be discovered? >> i am a great believer in what herman said. all subjects are infinite i
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think book after book it reveals more and more dimensions and let me tell everyone now more than ever there's a lot to be discovered because many newspapers, tablets, books, speeches that used to be very hard to get. you would have to travel are all online and you can word searchas them through databases and accessible archives, early english books and on and on. i teach a course at the center mining the archives and a lot oa the archives are the online archives are just wonderful.
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there's a lot of promise out of there. there really is. we have time for one more question and we would love to hear from both of you. professor let's start with you. was there an instance when you changed your mind about one aspect in the course of your research and writing this book? >> i would say, yes, i was looking at union motivation primarily when i studied thisre thesouth a great deal so for mee learning curve was with regards to union motivations and i read a lot of public deliverance and discourse so i was tempted to sort of dismiss the propaganda as the kind of things politicians say toay build a certain kind of case and to promote their own power and
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success. when i read the soldiers, letters and diaries and i saw those echoes in the moment, the sources about the deliverance rhetoric that i realized that i had briefly to accountnt for the appeal of this discourse because it really sunk in in the northern population, and as david says, we have this wonderful access to both public resources and to digitize letters and diaries so that we can compare in the cross referencing at the heart of the work compare and contrast public pronouncements with the private ones. >> did you change your mind about one aspect during your research? question.great i think i changed my mind at the
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very beginning and let me explain very briefly originally i was thinking about the subject of religion but i edited a book for norton, the selected writing and found so much intersection appointing a lot of his activities and i broadened it and it became a what i call cultural biography that tries to encompass so much of the culture that he never knew. ..
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>> a major change. >> thank you so much to both of you and also to everyone in the audience we appreciate your questions and i'm sorry that i didn't get to answer more than. and now will be closing out our program. >> when a great q&a and thank you again for taking questions from the audience rated but the prizewinners have been teaching on every dollar online program that offers books in-depth, and if you enjoyed today's program, you want tot learn more, encourage you to review those sessions. if drop questions and chat we also shared thanks to our bookshop page we can purchase these books and the copies of all of these books. the institute has arranged of programs and teachers and also
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for the history lovers we have hope that you will general website for more information of our programs read in particular, would like to invite everyone here tonight to join us one month from today, an annual gala having online in the first time ever. and you can learn more about the gala in the chat. and lastly, like to think of donors who supported this and it allows us to provide this program for free in this helps to ensure civil war scholarships are situated in american history education and we are deeply grateful for your support. he enjoyed nice program, and you want to support the gilder lehrman institute of american history you can do so in the chat. without thank you for joining us this evening and congratulations again to professor david reynolds, "abe." and we hope to see you and another event soon. goodbye everyone.
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