Lincoln: In His Own Words
Republicans claim Lincoln as founder of their party. Democrats invoke him as the greatest leader ever to occupy our nation’s highest office. President Obama took the oath using the same Bible upon which Lincoln swore to defend the Constitution, and even Donald Trump treads carefully when speaking of Lincoln–perhaps the only figure, past or present, whose reputation daunts him. Who was this man, and why has he achieved such exalted stature? By reading Lincoln’s public speeches and private writings, we will explore his fundamental principles and how he used the English language to reach the hearts and minds of his contemporaries and of posterity. The problem of slavery must, of course, be at the center of our discussion, and we will try to reconstruct something of its enormity.
Andrew Delbanco is Alexander Hamilton Professor of American Studies at Columbia University, where he was awarded the Great Teacher Award. He’s the editor of The Portable Lincoln, a collection of Lincoln’s greatest speeches and writing, and the author of many books as well as a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and other journals. In 2001, he was inducted into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named “America’s Best Social Critic” by Time magazine. In 2011, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.