Within the decided limits of a Hollywood blockbuster, Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln presents a nonheroic version of the 16th president. Though some iconic images are carefully polished—Lincoln as folksy storyteller and as lonely bearer of the ravages of war—the film focuses on Lincoln as wily politician, twisting arms and trading favors.
On Hallowed Ground: Abraham Lincoln and the Foundations of American History, by John Patrick Diggins
In his long and storied career, historian John Diggins has, he admits, been called many things. He says that the phrase he likes best is "a cold water historian." Fittingly, in this work he lines up a myriad of candidates and gives all of them a thorough dousing.
The earliest occurrence of what church historians call a jeremiad happened before there was a United States. In 1670, only 50 years after the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Reverend Samuel Danforth offered a harsh assessment of the colonists’ “errand into the wilderness.”
What I knew about Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, was pretty much confined to the popular image of him: he was the hero of the battle of New Orleans and a “man of the people.” After reading Jon Meacham’s American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, I have new appreciation for Jackson and a new understanding of how critical his presidency was.
Americans who have been living under a large, soundproof rock for the past year or so may be forgiven for not knowing that February marked the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The rest of us have no excuse, and the nation’s publishers have certainly done their part to ensure that no aspect of the 16th president’s life is overlooked.
Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America
During the third debate of the 2000 presidential election, then–vice president Al Gore stepped away from his podium and wandered over to George W. Bush’s side of the stage while Bush was answering a question. Observers were perplexed. Was Gore attempting to establish an alpha-male persona?
Illinois claims Abraham Lincoln as a native son, because even though he was not born in the state, he settled in Springfield, which is where he practiced law, entered politics, married and raised his children. We Presbyterians like to claim him too, though he never formally joined a church and his parents were Separate Baptists.