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Lincoln in American Memory

Merrill D. Peterson

Published in print July 1995 | ISBN: 9780195096453
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853939 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195096453.001.0001
Lincoln in American Memory

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This book provides a history of Lincoln's place in the American imagination from the hour of his death to the present. In tracing the changing image of Lincoln through time, the book offers insight into the evolution and struggles of American politics and society—and into the character of Lincoln himself. Westerners, Easterners, even Southerners were caught up in the idealization of the late President, reshaping his memory and laying claim to his mantle, as his widow, son, memorial builders, and memorabilia collectors fought over his visible legacy. The author also looks at the complex responses of blacks to the memory of Lincoln, as they moved from exultation at the end of slavery to the harsh reality of free life amid deep poverty and segregation; at more than one memorial event for the great emancipator, the author notes, blacks were excluded. The book makes an engaging examination of the flood of reminiscences and biographies, from Lincoln's old law partner William H. Herndon to Carl Sandburg and beyond. Lincoln was made a voice of prohibition, a saloon-keeper, an infidel, a devout Christian, the first Bull Moose Progressive, a military blunderer and (after the First World War) a military genius, a white supremacist (according to D.W. Griffith and other Southern admirers), and a touchstone for the civil rights movement. Through it all, the author traces five principal images of Lincoln: the savior of the Union, the great emancipator, man of the people, first American, and self-made man.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; American society; blacks; slavery; segregation; Herndon; Carl Sandburg; prohibition; Bull Moose Progressive; white supremacy

Book.  488 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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Table of Contents

Apotheosis in Lincoln in American Memory

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Shapings in the Postwar Years in Lincoln in American Memory

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Filling Up the Image in Lincoln in American Memory

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To the Afterwar Generation in Lincoln in American Memory

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Themes and Variations in Lincoln in American Memory

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From Memory to History in Lincoln in American Memory

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Zenith in Lincoln in American Memory

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Lincoln Everlasting in Lincoln in American Memory

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