Skip to main content

We will keep fighting for all libraries - stand with us!

tv   2021 Lincoln Prize  CSPAN  August 25, 2021 3:59am-5:06am EDT

3:59 am
4:00 am
>> good evening and welcome to the lincoln prize. my name is -- i'm the senior high school at new york city and a member of the student advisory council. i'm pleased to announce i've been search. ed at several colleges including georgetown, harvard, brown, tufts, johns hopkins and boston university and will be deciding soon. i'm thrilled to be speaking it's this important event. the lincoln prize is one of the most prestigious awards and while we are sad not to celebrate person were honored to take this program online be join the students and teachers and history lover keys the country.
4:01 am
tonight we sell bait two distinguished lincoln prize winners, professor elizabeth varon win of the 2020 price for her book, and professor david rein internationals, winner of the 2021 prize for his book, "abe." we'll be hearing remark from there will a live q & a at the end of the program he. we'll hear other remarks. please note we'll keep the chat close decided minimize distraction but we encourage audience members to spates question using the q & a feature at the bottom of the screen. i prom will begin with an invitation by scott higgins, a -- friend of the lincoln
4:02 am
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 statue of mr. lincoln signing the emancipation proclamation which i'm proud to say that lynn and i and-under around checker higgins family, donatessed to get tis burg college. the statute is in front of stevenses hall, named for the congressman abolitionist who wag a longtime crustee of the college provided the landin' 1832 response the welcome was built. let's us take a few minutes in prayer. lord god we meet this evening to recognize and to celebrate the extraordinary work of two eminent historians, elizabeth varon for her armies deliverance, new history of the civil war, and a sweeping narrative of the civil bar and a bold flu interpretation of the
4:03 am
war aims over the union and the confederacy. and david reynolds, abe, an elegant book that brings abraham lincoln to life within the culture of a turbulent age. on this occasion we take an important moment to recognize dick gilder who passed away this year for this monumentsal contribution to american history and the gilder lamon institute. and we pray for his partner and our partner, lou for his continued progress back to good health. more than a century and a half after the lincoln era and the civil war we pray lord god for continued teaching scholarship and research of the lincoln era. we pray the legacy of the men and women who lived and suffered the honor years of war and the injustices of oppression will be a shining light to future generations of americans, and be pray that the ideals and the goals which inspired abraham lincoln, union, and unity,
4:04 am
freedom and dignities for all, and civility, will inspire today's leaders and and the people of this great country so that from the scourge war, rebellion, pandemic, systemic racism, civil strife and terrorism we are brought together in peace and liberty and with hope. we ask your blessing on those who have joined us tonight. amen. >> thank you, scott, for that elegant invocation. and let me add my welcome. i'm jim bass ancestor, performing of the institute of american history. and on behalf of the board of the lincoln prize let me welcome you to the 30th and 31st 31st lincoln prize award ceremony. in a year of zoom exhaustion and webinar weariness, thank you all for taking the time to join us. covid caused us to postpone our ceremony in 2020, but tonight we combine it with the 2021 award
4:05 am
in a special double presentation. we are able to do this thanks to the indefatigable he effort offered diane brennan the prize administrator and cassidy hook are events manager at the institute. and thank you also to the stamina and good nature of the lincoln prize jury who agreed to serve two years running, professors caroline janney of the university of virginia, and steven mints of the university of texas and at the chair express former chair of the university of virginia, eds ayers. thank you for making this ceremony possible. >> normally when we holding this event at the union league club in new york city, only about 250 people are able to attend. so the silver ling to being virtual is tonight we have more than 1,000 people in our audience. ...
4:06 am
at a time when it's only 5000. the boldness of their vision to shape the field of history and more broadly the whole landscape ever since. we lost nick in may of last year when he died three weeks short of his 80th birthday but we will hear message tonight from his son thomas. as many in the audience know not only is he a civic leader and philanthropist he is himself a historian and why did published author but his many books include lincoln in peoria in 2008 and lincoln and churchill statesman of four in 2018.
4:07 am
together with nick he was the co-founder of the gilder lehrman institute which today lies at the heart of the program of resources that provides a network of 29,000 schools and more than 7 million students. with a her sense of profound gratitude for help make this puzzle we turned to his son thomas lehrman a trustee of institute after which we will see a short video about the history of the lincoln prize. >> good evening. my name is thomas lehrman and i'm happy to hear these words of my father with you on the occasion of the gilder lehrman lincoln prize. you all know how much our work together in this common cause means to him and we are grateful for your continued support. imagine now my father's unmistakable presence and voice.
4:08 am
distinguished friends of the gilder lehrman institute we as an institute find ourselves grateful to you for so many things were investment your encouragement, your belief in our educational reason. we gather to celebrate american history. one of the greatest stories ever told and we gather especially to honor my co-founder from the institute richard gilder. my dear friends you know how we dedicated we are to the study of american history. we truly aspire to the goal that every american citizen of whatever age will know and embrace the price was passion we have inherited ford generations past. let it also be said that we are committed to this mission unselfconsciously because we
4:09 am
believe the study of american history is one indispensable formation of confidence and responsible american citizens. nick gilder and i history majors at yale university long ago deeply believe that the study of american history must be what opens the garden path to every single citizen so it can be an american in full and that's founding of the gilder lehrman institute. thank you very much. >> at a time of unprecedented strife president abraham lincoln took the reins of national leadership and reunited a fractured america. named in honor of the 16th
4:10 am
present the gilder lehrman lincoln prize started in 1990 and has been awarded annually for abraham lincoln the american civil wars soldier for the american civil war hero. 50 the inspired leadership of louis lehrman and richard gilder the lincoln prize committee has considered more than 3200 works that awarded more than $1.5 million in prices over the last three decades. the award has on the scholars such as barbara fields doris kearns goodwin jim macpherson and filmmaker steven spielberg and timbers honored for the not for four the not for a price for his documentary message the silver roll -- the civil war as well as many others. the gilder lehrman lincoln prize has set the standard for scholarly awards and shines a bright light on the legacy of
4:11 am
lincoln and the breadth of his accomplishments as well as the heroes of the civil war. although america may change and grow the memory in the words of abraham lincoln remain precious. with malice toward none let charity belong. let us drive on and finish the work we are in the mind of the nation's wounds to bind up the nation's men's to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. ♪♪ smack it is my privilege not introduce the president
4:12 am
gettysburg college robert juliano a distinguished lawyer of former pew court clerk and federal prosecutor. bob was for several years in your vice president and general counsel at harvard university where he led many university wide initiatives and was president and a trusted adviser. bobby came the 15 president of the gettysburg college in july of 2019. he and his first year residency covid struck and he was very successful in meeting the college's during this time. i can tell you from personal observation he is an ardent and eloquent participant in the board could offer a few remarks about the college here is president bob juliano. >> good evening everyone. i'm bob juliano present at gettysburg college and it's
4:13 am
truly an honor to join you for this special celebration. our colleges have a long and strong relationship with the gilder lehrman institute of american history and it's been a joy to be so intimately involved in the selection and presentation of the lincoln prize and andre such as elizabeth barrett and david reynolds. the lincoln prize ali recognizes the work of essential scholarship but also has a way of shining a light on our shared past and offering a new understanding for how we navigate the challenges by our world today. the sentiments these powerfully to the education we provide for students at gettysburg college. but because we provide students with what we call a consequential education when grounded in the belief that knowledge in any discipline or endeavor is critical for the formation of a well reasoned and creative response.
4:14 am
it's precisely because of our past and that our argument is at the intersection of the defining moment in american history that we have the gettysburg college have a special capacity and indeed a special obligation to forage the future of our society and democracy particularly in these most consequential times. as you know the history of gettysburg college is deeply enshrined with the events of 1866 events that tested our most fundamental values and indelibly shaped the course of our nation. on july 1 come 1863 pennsylvania college student amidst of the union and confederate forces. the great battle swept through the heart of our campus and i'm buildings would serve as an academic and residential space for students to be used as a field hospital to treat the wounded soldiers of the army.
4:15 am
pennsylvania our mates at the heart of our campus today and it's where my office is located and serves as a vivid reminder to me everyday at how much this institution's history forms our values and aspirations. following the battle the story turns a man by the name of david wills the gettysburg graduate of the class of 1861. wills invited president lincoln to say quote a few appropriate remarks at the dedication of the national cemetery in the lincoln home the evening prior but the next morning on november 19, 1863 are students and faculty walk to the town square and followed president lincoln to the national cemetery to hear his iconic address first-hand. today our students retrace the steps each ball through a tradition we call the hero walk. when they arrived at the cemetery are students in their
4:16 am
earliest days at gettysburg school here lincoln's word and reflect on what those words will mean to them over the next four years as a member of art distinctive community and indeed how they can live the promise of those words throughout their lives. to me it's clear that consequential education is inspired by consequential places and our colleges indeed situated in one of the most consequential places in our country. that matters and leaders like lincoln eisenhower and so many others throughout the college's storied history of has had a profound impact on who we are today and the change we believe is possible. the legacy at the gilder lehrman civil war era studies and history and events like the annual lincoln lecture in civil war institute conference which
4:17 am
are lincoln prizewinners speak at in the summer. short students come here to our college, to this place surrounded by history an opportunity to build in themselves and each other their responsibility and resolve to pick up the great and unfinished work of making a better world. indeed consequently educated people. for themselves consequential lives and we are honored that the gilder lehrman institute of the lincoln prize continues to play an important part in these efforts. again i want to congratulate elizabeth varon and david reynolds. i want to especially acknowledge our gratitude for nick gilder for all he did including through his support of the lincoln prize and a wish to thank louis lehrman for his vision and leadership and commitment to improving our understanding of the world in the studies of our
4:18 am
past and lastly a big thank you to all of you so much for joining us in a special event in a tour to seeing you at the gettysburg college in the years ahead. take care now. >> thank you bob. i'm a senior in new york city and member of the student advisory council of the gilder lehrman institute for history. i'm pleased to announce i've been accepted into three colleges including syracuse university manhattan college and i am a college and will start soon in the fall but i'm honored to take the next that. lincoln prizewinner martha hodes suppressed besser of history at new york university winner of the 2016 gilder lehrman lincoln prize for her book mourning lincoln. professor sipri will present the finals for the 2020 lincoln prize. take it away martha. >> thank you sebastian and good evening. my name is martha hodes and it's
4:19 am
my honor to introduce the finalists for the 2020 lincoln prize. the files were chosen by distinguished scholars from a pool of more than 100 looks nominated for the prize. we have named a finalist for the president speaker's award and a unique group that includes the very best history writing over the last 30 years. her first finalists is a 2020 lincoln prize is -- for his book the second coming of the civil war and reconstruction remade the constitution which traces the art of three foundational amendments the 13th, 14th and 15th. the second finalist was matthew for his book -- photography human bondage in the birth of modern visual politics in america which explores the role of photography in shaping the public's understanding of in the
4:20 am
19th century. the third finalist was stephanie e. jones rodgers for her book day worker property white women and slaveowners in the american south which examines white women in the market and how they use it for economic and social advance. the fourth finalist is caleb mcdaniel for his book the case of liberty a true story of in restitution in america which tells the extraordinary story of henrietta woods and enslaved woman who fought for justice and reparation. the fifth finalist was jesse morgan owens for her book -- the story of marion mildred williams and the abolition movement which looks at how photographs of enslaved 7-year-old child who passed as white galvanized white sympathy for the abolitionist cause. the six finalists was joseph p.
4:21 am
reedy for his book delusions of emancipation freedom and equality in the twilight of which examines emancipation the aftermath of the perspective and experiences of african-americans. the finalists finalist for the 2020 lincoln prize is david for his book raising the white flag house house surrendered to find the american civil war vets untaxed the social political and cultural meaning of surrender during the civil war. congratulations to all of the 2020 finalist and i'm now going to turn things back over to the president the gilder lehrman institute. >> presented a 20 toilet comprises my pleasure to introduce my fellow gilder lehrman trustee john. john is a successful businessman and civic leader and philanthropist who heads up more boards in good causes than you can imagine. among them at various times the national park foundation the
4:22 am
american battlefield trust the university of virginia board of visitors and for 15 years but texas historic connection but he only gave that up to accept a presidential appointment as chair of the national advisory council on the start reservation where he served for nine years. john is a longtime trustee and generous supporter of gilder lehrman who are in partnership with first lady laura bush he created the national history teacher of the year program operating in all 50 states and now in its 17th year. he's also the founder of the john now center for historic study with its illustrious program. when the jury selected a historian from uva is the winner of the 2020 lincoln prize he immediately asked john if he would present the price to her. here to do that right now is a good friend john now. >> good evening everyone.
4:23 am
thank you jim for that very kind introduction. tonight it's my honor to join you to present the 2020 lincoln prize on behalf of nick gilder and lou lehrman. established in 1990 the gilder lehrman lincoln prize is awarded annually for the finest scholarly work in english on abraham lincoln, the american civil war soldier or the american civil war hero. tonight the 2020 lincoln prize is awarded to elizabeth varon for her exceptional book "armies of deliverance" a new history of the civil war. liz is one of the leading historians of the civil war era and we are very fortunate to have her leadership and intellect at the nau center. it had an interest in the study of the civil war since i was a young boy.
4:24 am
all started with civil war battlefield tours on family trips. 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 this 19th century america. over the years i've made up my mind that if i ever had the capacity i would work to establish a 19 system -- i'm very proud of the work of the nau center at uva in the world that it's played in the study of the american civil war. liz has played a significant role in helping to shape programming at the nau center. she she's a very talented and dedicated teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. she is trained a number of doctoral student said uva and many have sought admission to
4:25 am
the uva program specifically to work with her. she has published five talks about the american civil war that underscore her impressive range of interests and she has received numerous accolades and recognition for her books. her writing and teaching have made a significant impact and she has played a critical role in sustaining uva's outstanding reputation in the field of civil war era history. tonight we recognize and celebrate her outstanding scholarship of the civil war era. her book provides a thorough insightful and very readable history of the war itself. congratulations to art 2020 lincoln prizewinner, dr. elizabeth varon for "armies of deliverance" a new history of the civil war. congratulations liz and thank you everyone.
4:26 am
>> thank you so much john. i'm profoundly grateful for this award and for the opportunity to address you all tonight and i extend my congratulations to my fellow honoree and all the wonderful finalists. if there ever there's a mom to celebrate the public mindedness of the gilder lehrman institute and support for countries history educators that moment is now. we are reminded again and again of the need to make our collective scholarship accessible to the general public. the issues at the heart of the american civil war bullets labor and the fulfillment of freedom are the issues of our time. america's never needed educators k-12 teachers and librarians and archivists newsstands national parks colleges and universities with generations of student teachers. i set out to write "armies of deliverance" is a public outreach in mind.
4:27 am
the hook was an interpretive meant to convey the analytical insights and the modern sensibilities of civil war scholarship in the 21st century. the title of the book captures this argument that the theme of deliverance is key to understanding the war under abraham lincoln and the union. the union soldiers are taught to war in 1861 believing their mission saved people from confederate death. deliverance proved to be a very addabbo political fame -- adaptable political theme that enabled the abraham lincoln broad coalition to wage a civil war. i train the book to explain the emotional appeal of deliverance and rhetoric particularly its impact on soldier motivation and i try to explain how it was the union has persisted in believing
4:28 am
they save themselves even in the face of massive evidence that confederates did not want to be saved to my book concludes ultimately that deliverance help the union when the war but conceded confederates to accept these for black freedom. as i researched and wrote this "armies of deliverance" three particular insight of scholarship are central and the first is that the union and confederacy were complex political constructs internally divided by race class gender ethnicity region religion and so one. our generalizations about the war left complexity. to give you a striking example would we can equate the south but we shouldn't do so. doing so is profoundly distorting and anti-confederate
4:29 am
confederate. black southern unionists were crucial to the victory and the major aim of my book was to highlight the role of blacks southerners and lincoln's coalition and the way the liberators were liberatory's. this was given a power -- powerful -- in my hometown of charlotte's -- charlottesville. researchers and educators in charlottesville have been hard at work recovering a history of unionism in the region. the efforts to recover its history will be doubled after the attacks on our city and the efforts have made a difference in recognition of the fact that over half of the population of virginia was enslaved on the eve of the civil war and the fact many black man fought in union regiments. their city now celebrates march march 3 liberation and freedom
4:30 am
day marks the moment in 1865 when they took possession of charlottesville and brought liberation to the region. the public history conducted collectively by a wide range of students and educators and researchers have ordered us with a new lens. the second way in which modern fellowship in for my book is in the conviction that are grand narratives are more compelling when they include a wide range of experiences and bland a range of methodologies to military and political culture. more than ever before civil war integrates the events of the battle and various methods for studying the past but is determined in "armies of deliverance" to leave the experiences and --of lemon not only to the roles they played as
4:31 am
nurses or former spies and so one but for the salience of their commentary on political matters. i tried to interweave the public pronouncements of opinion makers and politicians with the private reflections of civilians and soldiers in their personal letters and correspondence in so one so that i could reveal how ideologies are internalized to become part of people's identity. perhaps the most illuminating research discovery made in writing the book was the theme of deliverance was ubiquitous in the letters that the soldiers wrote home to their families through countless battlefields even as the soldiers were surrounded by evidence of the war's toll. they had in other words deeply internalized the idea that they could change southern hearts and minds. the third and final illustration
4:32 am
at the ways in which my book reflects modern scholarship was its rejection of false equivalence between the union and the confederacy. frederick douglass famously 1978 said there is a right side and a wrong side and no sentiment ought to cause us to forget. "armies of deliverance" is meant to help us appreciate the meaning of douglas' famous words and their continued relevance. that was deliberately said there was a right song -- are rising a wrong side in said reconstruction was running aground on the shoulders of racism. insisting the right side won the war that was was not claiming that the union cause was we must as douglas and his life fighting a two-front war against modern slavery and persistent racial discrimination in the north.
4:33 am
what he meant was that the civil war was fundamentally a war of ideas between as he put it the old and the new slavery and freedom barbarism and civilization. the conflict was so bitter he took the ideas that drove it were so strongly opposed. one can imagine the 21st century american would readily agree that the right side won the war but we have seen reminders in the recent past that false equivalency the idea that the union and confederacy are equally deserving of honor has made a comeback. i'd like to close by asking us as history educators and inform citizens to guard against rejecting his feet such false equivalency is. my book emphasizes the fundamental idealism of the war. i'm not claiming any more than douglass did that all northerners were saints and all southerners were demons but
4:34 am
account for the worst excesses its costs or the human suffering and fallibility and cruelty on both sides. it remained a reviewable that on the central issue of slavery union and confederate ideology were starkly opposed. union ideology was based on free labor and majority rule and insist as a slaveholder should no longer rule the country with the framework in which change and progress were possible not inevitable and not easy but possible the big years like frederick douglass and harriet tubman who faced immense diversity had cracked open the door for change. confederate ideology bike contrast was in defense of slavery and the supremacy of slaveholders flatly rejected the possibility of progress.
4:35 am
they were enemies of change and they sought to slow that freedom and chain it shut. .. the right side won the war and fell to us still to fulfill the promise of that victory. thank you. >> hello. i'm aga that and i'm a junior at the high school and a member of the student advisory council of the institute of american history. i'm honored honored to inintrodr next guest, larry walker, acknowledge thing finalis of the 2021 lincoln prize. larry is a businessman and civic leader and alum and trustee of the college and a member of the lincoln prize group which determines the prize winner.
4:36 am
larry, please telling us about the 2021 finalist. >> thank you, agatha and good evening. it is a privilege to be here with you tonight on the first ever online lincoln prize event. in the year marked by national crisis and division, scholarship dealing with lincoln's legacy reminds us that unity is possible through great leadership and it is my honor to acknowledge the 2021 prize finalist whose work contributed to preserving and advancing that legacy. the first finalist for the 2021 lincoln prize was alice bombarden for their book, south to freedom, runway slaves to mexico and the road to the civil war which examines how mexico's abolition of slavery and 1837 and antislavery policy helped spark the civil war in the united states, the second finalist for the 2021 lincoln prize was adrian, colassal
4:37 am
ambitions. which looked out our leading confederate thinkers he the relationship with the united states. the third finalist for the 2021 prize was -- for her book the women's fight, the civil war's bat littleles for home, freedom and nation which provides a comprehensive new history of women's lives and contributions during the civil war and how women were essentially and full i engaged throughout the war. the fourth finalist for the 2021 prize was ken ken which investigates the ways that weather climbed shaped the outcomes of civil war battles. congratulations to all the finalists and now going to turn things back over to pauline ya.
4:38 am
>> hello again. our next speakers is valerie rockefeller presenting the award to the 2021 lincoln prize winner. valerie has been a trustee of the institute for five years, and is one of its most active and generous supporters. a former classroom teacher who serves on the board of teachers college at columbia university, a major civic leader to chairs the board of the rockefeller brothers fun, a private foundation advancing social change that contributes to more sustainable and peaceful world. valerie will now introduce the winner of the 2021 lincoln prize. >> i'm honored to introduce the winner of the 2021 lincoln prize. professor david reynolds. david is a rhode island native who receive degrees from amherst college and uc berkeley and taught american lit tour and american studies at northwestern university, bar understands college, new york university, rutgers university. since 2006 a professor at the graduate center of the city
4:39 am
university of new york and teaches english and americansides. the author 0 editor of 16 books and books have won the bran croft prize, the gov aired the ambassador book ware and the outstating book award and one book is a finalis foss the national book credittic circle award. his book "abe" is a beautifully with live of lincoln set in a cultural context of the time. the "new york times" book review called eight lieu sitsly rendered exposition of the character and thought of the 167th present through prism of the -- "the wall street journal" deemed it's marvelous cultural biography that accupuncture tires lincoln and his full unless. the jury notessedly to innovative research the book of the settings and knowledge of america's religion, literature, humor and politics, allows him to populate lincoln's nation in
4:40 am
detail. it's with great flurry i on behalf over the institute of american history presented the 2021 lincoln prize to david reynolds. congratulations. now i turn it over to professor reynolds to tell us about his book. >> thank you so much for those kind remarks and thanks to the institute for this wonderful recognition . jim basker, bob, ed ayers and others on the committee, i truly appreciate it, and last year's winner of the award,ful we earlier but the mission of the institute and its outreach to high schools. congratulations to her and her explanation of her book. and browns -- background of my book, "abe" i want to mention lynn nesbitt who circulated a
4:41 am
book proposal and one paragraph in it on lincoln caught the eye of scott moyer of penguin and scott and i discussed things and i realized i had a book inside of me that had been kind of growing for years and years, and scott kind of pulled it out of me and thanks so much to lynn and school and thanks also to where i teach, the graduate center of city university of new york. a stimulating scholarly environment from the student cohort to the faculty members to the administration. thank you so much to cuny and particularly two professors, colleagues, in the history program, james doaks, the biggest winner of the lincoln prize twice, and david wallstriker who were kind enough to read my long manuscript when
4:42 am
it was still on the screen. couldn't believe it. and gave me such wonderful insights and edits, and -- edits and outside of kanye want to thang douglas wilson, lincoln scholar and mason lawrence, a wonderful americanist who also read the manuscript, and above all my family who have stuck by me through thick and thin, and it was both a great challenge and great fun to be writing my book while my wife was working on her book on creativity in neuroscience and humanities, and when my manuscript was finished she sat down and very carefully read through chapter by chapter and was a wonderful command tater so thank you -- commentator. i was going i say that walt whitman in his poem, his wonderful eulogy written after the death of lincoln, when
4:43 am
lilacs last in the door areas broomed, he described lincoln as the great western star, illuminating the landscape americans landscape, and in a sense that is what lincoln always was to me. this kind of beautiful, wonderful, star but also a little bit removed, and someone inaccessible. didn't see him attached to his contemporary culture and i thought but the culture, the greatest literary period in american literary history, and emmer union, thorough, melville, emily dickenson, walt whitman and then frederick douglass, harriet beecher stowe, john brown, william lloyds garrison and just so much going on, such a wonderful period, and wall --
4:44 am
walt whitman in 1856 fantasized but a president coming from across the alleghenies from the west, at that time illinois was considered the west. and he didn't know but lincoln at all but said some boatman or raftsman in working man, bearded, shrewd, working person, honest, would -- and whitman said i wish he would step across the allegheny and write -- ride into the white house. at the time of james buchanan and other inferior presidents and low lo and behold four years later here comes abe, and he is sold as a -- the illinois rail splitter, honest abe, old abe, and lincoln didn't particularly like that name, nor did he like mr. president or mr. lincoln or anything like that. he preferred lincoln. but he did say, i know i was not
4:45 am
going to get elected with the image of abe. and that's why i call my book "abe." it's but the interception between him and -- intersection between him and what got him elected which was his knowledge of his contemporary america, and emerson said about lincoln, there's no hero in history who encompassed culture all ranges of cultural from the very highest to the lowest, on the high side lincoln could recite shakespeare by the page, and many other poets -- not to brag because these lines meant something to him and he liked bawdy jokes and frontier humor and everything in between. sappy parlor songs and soing for. so he did bridge the whole range of culture, and he strongly believed that people are shaped
4:46 am
by conditions, outside conditions, indelibly shaped but at the same time, he stated he believed in the individual's capacity to shape, to in turn feed back into culture and for the individual to shape it and my book is really about the whole interchange between him and his surrounding culture and how that guided him into the presidency and through the civil war, and it was a nation divide, of course, over slavery, and in that division he was compared often to -- the famous tightrope walker who went back and forth across niagra falls, no net, backwards, forwards in chains, on stilts, pushing wheelbarrow, carrying a man over, and many cartoons portrayed him as -- and he compared himself to blondon, and people poo say can't you go faster on slavery in the says i
4:47 am
charles blonde don were going across onagra would we tell him to tilt this way to the left or right? have to stay centered here. if i don't, some people will say i'm too slows, others i'm too pham if i don't something bad is going to happen. for example we could lose a border stated. we lose kentucky we'll lose everything. we're just going to lose everything. so i have to stay centered. and he was also confronted with a culture that was turn lent, rowdy -- turbulent, rounds. >> fragmented. he once called america a mobocracy and full of white supremacy 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 he -- it was a fragmented nation, full of what we call callisms"," such as spiritualism
4:48 am
and no-nothingism and utopian socialism and free love and on and on, and temperance main lawism, and he was very much aware of all theseisms" and he said -- his words -- we have to concentrate on oneism." douglassism was the possible spread that threatened spread of slavery to the west that was opened up by stephen a douglas when he called for sovereignty in the western territories and lincoln put his foot down and said we have to stop douglass and that's what we have to son ken traits on -- concentrate on and he did that in the war and what was initially largely a war to preserve the union and as liz was saying earlier for deliverance, became a war specifically to get rid of slavery which fortunately lincoln lived too toe see with the passage of the 13th 13th amendment. it passes congress just a few
4:49 am
months before he was assassinated; so he did live and became the first president to publicly endorse the vote for african-americans. so, one thing that helped aim lot lot was poetry. loved poetry and on april 9, 1865, when he was on a boat from virginia to washington, and that was the day lee surrendered to grant and everyone on the boat was saying in effect, mission accomplished. this is great, we won. he preferred to read poetry for a few hours, and poetry about death. poetry spoke to him. thinking perhaps out the 800,000 people who died in the civil war. that's where his thoughts were. it wasn't so much about how great i am or the north but i was at outreach through poetry and poetry is the most channeled concentrated language and
4:50 am
focuses feeling and meaning so wonderfully and has greatest speeches are prose poems. the short, like gettysburg agrees and the inaugural address but so pithy and poetic and what lives with us today besides his example is his language, the better angels of our nature, malice toward none, of the people, by the people, for the people, language that still survives and in his honor i guess since he loved poetry so much i would like to recite the poem of langsston hughes who fewer years after the lincoln memorial with its grand columnss and wonderful marbling stat sure opened and langston wrote the
4:51 am
poppled called washington's mon. lincoln mon independent washington. let's go see old abe, sitting in the marble in the moonlight. sitting lonely, in marble and the moonlight, light for 10,000 centuries. old abe. quiet for a million, million years, quiet and yet a voice forever. against the timeless walls of time. old abe. thank you. >> thank you so much professor reynolds. we'll begin the q & a portion of the program. i'd like to remind audience member if you have a request use the q & as as button.
4:52 am
annabelle has a question. why did you become an historian, professor varon. >> that's a wonderful question. i was inspired by my parents, my parents both immigrants to this country, from turkey and germany, and they felt they wanted to get to know the place where they found themselves, which happened to be northern virginia and they took me to smithsonian institute to the various historic sites in the region. remember the smithsonian american human of american history and the civil war exhibit captured my imagination. it really caught my attention, and their on love for history and their own sense that u.s. history was important as
4:53 am
fascinating as their own backgrounds were. they inspired me to be immersed in this story, and again, sites, museums. there's just no substitute for getting to see and hold artifacts and imagine yourself in a place and so on, and all historians are so grateful to those who make those verse rallying, tang ilk experiences possible for us? thank you, professor varon. in the we for professor reynolds. what surprised you most but the lincoln during your research process about abe. >> thank you for that great question. i think what surprises me was that too many of our opinions of
4:54 am
lincoln are just formed from today's perspective. we have to understand him in his own time. one can cherry pick here and there, particularly in his early speeches when he was in illinois, which is kind of a racist environment and he was running for offers against stephen douglas and you can cherry pick certain things he said at the time to sound quite backward and forth, but i really surprised by his sincere closeness to african-americans that stretched from springfield when he lived in the neighborhood where w where there were some 20 african-americans through this presidency where frederick douglass who met him in the white house and sojourner truth, the african-american feminist and martin delany, a real radical and med him and they found him really the least
4:55 am
prejudiced person they had met and they were quite honest about that, and so it kind of helped for me to understand why he does become the first president to publicly endorse the vote for african-americans. >> thank you for that answer 'the next question from martha for professor varon, the question what did researching and writing for your book illuminate for you the endeavor of changing heartses and minds in a moment of polarization? >> so, i think that this -- in a sense brings us back to lincoln. lincoln put forward over the course of the war a vision of american reunion, one that i think grant would eventually take up after the disastrous presidency of andrew johnson in
4:56 am
which he attempted to blend a sort of desire for unity with the commitment to principle, and so we see lincoln midway through the war promulgate a policy of amnesty to confederates who seemed ready to change their hearts and minds. this is a policy that is less well-known in his eemancipation pollingly but very important and asked confederates to pledge future loyalty to the union and lincoln hoped to recreate the loyal core in the to union occupied states through the pledges of future loyalty. so that was an olive branch, but at the same time lincoln stood by his principles, though there were voice in north, the opposition party, the democrats, agitating for a negotiated peace, one in which the union
4:57 am
would perhaps give up emancipation -- make concessions to the confederacy, concede perhaps even confederate independence. some so-called copperheads democratics willing to go that far. lincoln wasn't willing to accept peace on his enemy's terms. write a book but the surrender at an mott mocks and they were on the same page and said weeing be mag national mountain but we occupy the moral high playground and is a magnanimity is to fake your repentance and essentially the message of lincoln and grant to the con fed was say was we don't want to punish you. we want you 0 cheng and unfortunately the message back was that the confederates would consider the demand for change as a form of punishment. >> thank you for that thoughtful
4:58 am
answer. our next question is from dawn, professor reynolds hutch more civil war history is yet to be discovered? >> well, i'm a great believer in what herman melville said, he said all subjects are infinite and the more that we learn about a subject, the more infinite it becomes. i think that there's a lot more civil war history to be discovered. i think that book after book after book that reveals more and more dimensions, and let me just tell everyone that now more than ever there's a lot to be discovered. buy and many, many newspapers, pamphlets, books, speeches, that used to be very, very hard to get, you would have to travel -- i don't know where -- california or here, there and every -- they're online and you can word search them through databases like accessible archives, early english books and on and on and
4:59 am
on. so, i think we could be at the dawn of a whole new era of civil war scholarship and just scholar sharp in i teach a class called mining archives. and beyond archives are wonderful. there's a lot of promise out there. there really is. >> okay. we have time for one more question and we would love ha hear from both of you. professor varon was there an instance when you changed your mind during one aspect of your research or writing the book? >> i would say that, yes, you know, i was looking at union motivation. primarily historian of the south and studied the south a great deal so for me the learning curve with regards to union motivation and i read a lot of public deliverance discourse and
5:00 am
i was tempted initially to sort of dismiss this propaganda as the things politicians say to build a certain kind of case and to promote their own power and success. it was when i read soldiers, letters and diaries and saw those echos to in the moment sources, the private sources of that deliverance rhetoric i realized that i had as i said briefly to account for the emotional appeal of this discourse because its really sunk in, in the northern population, and as david said, we have this wonderful access to both public resources and digitized letters and diaries so we can compare and cross-referencing at the heart of or work, compare and contrast the public pronouncementses with the private ones, retroactive
5:01 am
pronouncements with the in the moment ones. >> thank you. dioutside change your mind but one speck of your subjects during the research, professor reynolds. >> i think i changes my mind at the very beginning, and lot me explain very briefly. originally i was thinking but a book on lincoln and religion, but i edited a book for norton, lincoln's select its write examination found so much intersection with his contemporary culture and how that explained a lot of his activities and his thoughts that i broadened it and became a biography-what i call a cultural biography that tries to encompass the culture. we influences by our family
5:02 am
culture, local school culture, church, and how that intersects with strands in the larger culture, and i found this really did apply to lincoln. so, this whole broadening from that early focus to a full scale biography was really the major change. >> thank you so much, professor varon and professor reynolds. we appreciate you're questions and i'm sorry we didn't goetz answer more of them. i'm going to turn things over no fell linen who will be closing on the program. >> what a great q & a. thank you both again for taking questions from the audience. both of our prize winners have been features on book breaks, free online program where authors discuss their books in depth. if you enjoyed tonight's program and want to learn nor, we encourage you to view road recordings of those sessions.
5:03 am
wire sharing links in chat to the book page and you can purchase the books as well as copies of all the finalists books. the institute has a whole range of public programs and lee sources for teachers, students and histories lovers. we hope that you will check out our website for more information on upcoming programs and to get further engaged with the institute. in particular we'd like to invite everyone here tonight to join is a month from today for our annual gala online for the first time ever. you can learn more burst the guardrail through the link in chat. we would like to our doctors this. prize helps to ensure that civil war scholarship is sweated the mainstream0. 0 american history education deep bryly grateful for your support. if you enjoyed the program and want to support the lincoln prize you can do so through the link in the chat.
5:04 am
with that, thank you for joining us this evening and congratulations again to professor david reynolds and professor liz varon. i hope everyone has a nice evening and we hope to see you
5:05 am


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on