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Boritt, ed., The Historian's Lincoln: Pseudohistory,
Psychohistory, and History. 1988; Urbana and Chicago:
University of Illinois Press, 1996. xxviii + 451 pp.,
illustrations, appendix, index.
It is a fair question to ask why the University of Illinois Press has seen fit to reprint a collection of conference papers, a dozen years old, concerning works on Abraham Lincoln published in the 1970s and early 1980s. In some ways the best way to look at the paperback edition of The Historian's Lincoln is to treat it as a sort of scholarly curiosity or artifact. So much has changed in the intervening years—or at least one would think so at first glance. After all, when the volume first appeared, Stephen Oates's With Malice toward None represented what many thought the best single-volume biography of the sixteenth president (although Benjamin Thomas's 1952 study still had its fans); and while the editor Gabor S. Boritt noted that there were rumors that David Donald was engaged in preparing a full-length study, he remarked that Donald "fell silent on Lincoln years ago" (xx). If, as Boritt quickly added, "his considerable prestige lingers," one must observe that Donald was not present at the conference that sparked this book. Other leading Lincoln scholars were present, including several people who have since made major contributions to the field, but on the whole, this conference was more successful at assessing what had been done than what was next on the agenda. In most cases, the central speakers reworked material found in more extended form in (then) recently published monographs. This edition is enlivened by the inclusion of speakers' responses to commentary, previously only available in pamphlet form from the Civil War Institute. Armed with the advantage of hindsight, one can offer some observations about the evolution of what Boritt calls "Lincoln studies" over the past two decades.
The first section, "The Common People's Lincoln," explores how the president communicated to people through his shrewd use of stories and how the people saw him represented in prints and pho- Page [End Page 67] tography. P. M. Zall sets Lincoln's storytelling in the context of his experiences as a public speaker and lawyer, both of which taught him the importance of making contact with his audience. Norman Graebner and Mark Neely highlight the political uses of that humor, and Neely reminds us that at times it misfired. A selection of photographs from James Mellon's Face of Lincoln (1979) precedes a joint endeavor by Boritt, Neely, and Harold Holzer on the Lincoln image in print, concentrating on the manipulation of that image for political ends. It is left to Wendy Wick Reaves to challenge the authors' assumption that such prints were precious, for they were cheap and not always well-executed, and she questions whether the purchase of such prints was always a political act.
While the study of the iconography of Lincoln and the Civil War continues to absorb the attention of several scholars, it remains unclear as to the impact of such studies or whether the analysis offered therein is often much more than common sense with a twist of Art History 101. And while it is always enjoyable to revisit Lincoln's sense of humor, one must note Michael Burlingame's observations about Lincoln's ability to ridicule others as well as the reservations raised by Holzer about Lincoln's ability as an extemporaneous speaker. Perhaps one reason Lincoln offered the occasional joke in public—before he was president—was to divert his audience's attention from more serious matters where he was less prepared to comment. In private, his humor served several purposes, from setting his listeners at ease to making a point in succinct and memorable fashion. Sometimes his humor carried with it an edge that betrayed his impatience or dissatisfaction; sometimes it proved counterproductive or unprofessional, as when he repeatedly mocked George B. McClellan.
The extent to which Lincoln embraced free labor principles and how in turn his presidency served those principles is the central theme of Boritt's summary of his book, Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream (1978), and the responses of M. E. Bradford and Phillip Paludan. Boritt reiterates his insistence on the centrality of the theme of an individual's "right to rise" in Lincoln's thinking about the ideal economic order in a democracy. Government, Lincoln believed, should enhance one's ability to assert this right by extending a helping hand—in the form of Henry Clay's American System. Boritt correctly highlights how much of Lincoln's abhorrence of slavery reflected his assumptions about the right to rise; however, he falls short of demonstrating how Lincoln applied these principles to his understanding of what black freedom meant. And, Page [End Page 68] ironically, Lincoln's application of the principle of rewarding achievement to military promotion led eventually (and somewhat circuitously) to the elevation of two men who had struggled mightily (and with little success) in antebellum free labor society—Grant and Sherman. Of special interest is a rather lengthy footnote in which Boritt discusses his work in the context of other scholars' writings about Lincoln's economic thought.
Bradford shows little patience with such celebrations of Lincoln in an essay littered with the first-person singular (a style strangely familiar to readers of Andrew Johnson's speeches) and shaped by his desire to "set the record straight" about his own thoughts on Lincoln. Perhaps it would have been wiser to allow him his own forum instead of having to attach his thoughts to Boritt's argument (indeed, a book featuring Bradford's thoughts on Lincoln and scholars' reactions would be a lively one). As it is, Bradford basically ignores Boritt altogether, preferring instead to offer a compressed version of his indictment of the sixteenth president as a hypocrite whose quest for union and emancipation threatened liberty (whose liberty, one might ask) and contributed to the nation's "continuing racial problems" (113).
Paludan offers a much more cogent response that anticipates themes developed in his later scholarship on the North during the war. The war, he argues, accelerated the transformation of the free labor order celebrated by Lincoln and others into something ironically closer to the wage slavery decried by proslavery theorists. He could have pressed his point even more. Did the persistence of such principles in forums such as the Horatio Alger stories actually inhibit Americans from dealing with the problems of an emerging industrial society? That Lincoln thought about the right to rise is obvious; whether he had thought it through in the context of the America to come is not nearly so apparent.
Yet Boritt's essay is also open to another criticism—one which could have been offered at the time. What, exactly, renders Lincoln's economic ideology distinctive? Did not Stephen A. Douglas also believe in a right to rise? Was it not true that by the late 1840s and 1850s there was precious little difference between Democrats and Whigs on several issues of economic development, most notably internal improvements? It is one thing to highlight, as Boritt so ably does, how Lincoln's opposition to slavery was grounded in its violation of free labor principles (and that helps to explain why he found the writings of George Fitzhugh so interesting); it is another to demonstrate the distinctiveness of his formulation of Page [End Page 69] those free labor principles in political debate aside from the question of slavery. In emphasizing the sectional dimensions of free labor, historians often fail to explicate the partisan dimensions in comparing Republicans and Democrats.
Two chapters address topics that have not stirred much scholarly inquiry. Glen E. Thurow's essay on Lincoln and political religion reminds us of how Lincoln laced his public pronouncements with religious references and images. Thurow takes special care to examine the two speeches whose texts flank Daniel Chester French's imposing statue within the Lincoln Memorial: the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural. In his comments, David Hein offers some observations on Lincoln's explanations of how God functioned in the world. David A. Nichols's overview of Lincoln's Indian policy modifies somewhat the interpretation he offered in Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics (1978), although apparently not enough to satisfy Hans Trefousse, whose comments betray a willingness to give the president the benefit of the doubt. One senses a missed opportunity for scholars, for a comparative study of Lincoln's attitudes toward African Americans and Native Americans might tell us much about how he defined American nationhood, balanced competing agendas, and understood race relations. At the same time, a comparison of federal policies toward Native Americans and southern blacks would tell us much about the means and ends of policy toward minority groups. After all, the same man who pledged to reform the Indian Bureau also signed into law the Freedmen's Bureau Bill in March 1865.
Historians continue to argue over Lincoln's attitudes toward race and slavery, noting in turn how these shaped his approach to emancipation and reconstruction. One can see clear foreshadowings of the current debate over "who freed the slaves" in LaWanda Cox's summary of her perceptive and judicious Lincoln and Black Freedom (1981) and the responses of Stephen Oates and Armstead Robinson. Scholarship, too, can create strange bedfellows, for today Ira Berlin and Barbara Fields find themselves next to James G. Randall in questioning the image of "the Great Emancipator." Perhaps the work most closely allied with Cox is Paludan's Presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1994), which clearly demonstrates that Lincoln valued how one went about achieving one's goals at a time when the very process of representative government was under duress.
Cox's essay suggests that one reason Lincoln does not always receive the credit he deserves for his role in ending slavery is that he practiced a style of presidential leadership that stressed subtle Page [End Page 70] persuasion and indirect methods. Lincoln might well protest that events controlled him, but in fact he was usually sensitive to the direction in which they pointed and looked to derive some advantage from understanding the future course of events. If he appeared to be a reluctant emancipator, perhaps that was in part because it was politically advantageous to appear so; he possessed a sense of timing, a willingness to wait for the appropriate moment, that served him well. Yet this cannot be the entire explanation. For Lincoln was in fact not sure what to do about slavery or how to do it; he struggled to come to terms with the consequences of emancipation. He rarely reached conclusions quickly, least of all on this momentous issue fraught with so many implications. Indeed, it is unlikely that he would have become president had he established himself as the eager emancipator prior to 1860.
Moreover, Lincoln placed great value in the argument that one of the best ways to secure emancipation was by letting the initiative come from the slaveholding states themselves. There was good reason for this on constitutional grounds—Lincoln explicitly denied the power of the federal government to abolish slavery by fiat during peacetime—but he also realized that white southerners would be more comfortable with and supportive of a process in which they, and not the president, took the decisive step. Perhaps in his desire to give white southerners an interest in voluntary compliance he went too far at times, but then, in the long term, imposed emancipation may have carried its own costs—and it certainly imposed moral obligations upon the federal government that went unmet. Robinson's remarks reveal that how white southerners would respond to emancipation was very much on Lincoln's mind and that the president had to weigh and reweigh the impact of his emancipation policy on his larger objective of preserving the Union.
The debate over Lincoln, race, slavery, emancipation, and reconstruction often serves as a Rorschach test, sometimes revealing more about each participant's values and priorities than about Lincoln. Oates, for example, chides Cox for giving insufficient attention to the Emancipation Proclamation, which he asserts is "the central act" in the story of Lincoln and black freedom. Perhaps. Other historians might choose the Thirteenth Amendment, and a good number would diminish Lincoln's agency altogether. In contrast, Robinson reminds us that the revolutionary impact of emancipation affected whites as well as blacks in the South; even as he struck blows at the peculiar institution, Lincoln had to cultivate a resurgence of Unionism among whites if he was to reunite the re- Page [End Page 71] public—a point often overlooked or dismissed by some of the more critical commentators who assail Lincoln's reputation as the Great Emancipator. After all, Lincoln was out to preserve liberty and union, not one at the cost of the other. Had the Union failed to win the war, the Emancipation Proclamation would have become a dead letter; conversely, as Lincoln observed, it might have proven very difficult indeed to save the Union without eventually embracing emancipation as a war measure. How to preserve the republic while striking at slavery proved Lincoln's greatest challenge.
In the Cox-Oates-Robinson exchange, as well as in the more recent debates over who freed whom, one detects a process akin to the blind men and the elephant. Freedom came in different ways at different times and in different places. Moreover, it is one thing to assert one's freedom and quite another to have that freedom recognized and protected—as fugitives well knew. Better, one might suggest, to explore emancipation as a process in which many people took part, including blacks, soldiers, generals, politicians, and presidents, instead of engaging in a somewhat fruitless process of ascertaining credit (or blame) and partitioning praise. And, as Cox argues, better to look at the whole range of Lincoln's activities to end slavery than to concentrate on one act alone.
If defining Lincoln's role in the process of emancipation appears to dominate much discussion about him today, one might recall that at the time of the Gettysburg conference, psychological assessments prevailed. Three sections are devoted to various Lincoln studies informed by psychological insights. Charles B. Strozier's piece revisits arguments set forth in his Lincoln's Quest for Union (1982), emphasizing the links between the private and public Lincoln as he sought harmony and union at home and across the nation (with mixed results on both fronts). Strozier's discussion of Lincoln's relationships with his parents and wife is provocative, although it also provoked the ire of the commentator Herman Belz, whose remarks reflect little patience with psychological modes of inquiry in biography. Jean Baker, whose biography of Mary Todd Lincoln presented Lincoln's wife as a prototype of Victorian womanhood, appears more sympathetic, except when it comes to Strozier's treatment of Lincoln's marriage, for Baker sees Mary as a far more stable woman than Strozier would have us believe. Strozier's wide-ranging and pungent response makes for fascinating reading. It demonstrates both the necessity for informed speculation by biographers drawing connections between private and public life and the perils of reading much into very little, specifically Lincoln's Page [End Page 72] juxtaposition of a story about killing a turkey and mentioning the death of his mother in a brief autobiographical essay.
Less restrained in argument and much more disturbing in interpretation is Dwight G. Anderson's reiteration of the central thesis of Abraham Lincoln: The Quest for Immortality (1981), which wrenches Lincoln's 1838 address to the Young Men's Lyceum in Springfield completely out of context and presents it as some sort of public confession of oedipal rage against the father of his country, George Washington. Handling Lincoln's subsequent public statements with equal deftness, Anderson suggests that Lincoln took pains to warn the American public about his own tyrannical tendencies: One wonders whether Anderson's chief inspiration was M. E. Bradford himself. It is difficult to recognize Lincoln in Anderson's treatment of him, although one might profit from some of his more restrained observations; the essay's chief contribution is to render Strozier's piece more acceptable as history to skeptics of psychohistorical analysis. Robert V. Bruce skewers Anderson's argument in understated fashion. Marcus Cunliffe raises questions about the special role Anderson insists George Washington played in Lincoln's mind. Anderson replies in mannerly fashion to Cunliffe but fails to suppress his own rage in lashing back at Bruce.
In such company, George Forgie's ruminations about Lincoln and the dilemmas of a post-heroic generation seek less risk intellectually, in part because they resonate with instinctive understandings of how hard it is to follow a successful predecessor while carving out one's own identity. Although Forgie has his own observations to make about the Lyceum speech and the threats tyrants posed to American institutions—Forgie's Lincoln identified Stephen A. Douglas as the tyrant—his main argument is that Lincoln framed his political arguments within the context of a heroic struggle to preserve liberty. So, one might observe, did Daniel Webster and Jefferson Davis. Comments by Kenneth Stampp and Major Wilson place Lincoln's utterances about conspiracies against liberty in the context of prevailing political rhetoric, questioning whether Lincoln's use of such images was unique or reflected deep personal concerns.
One comes away from these forays into the world of psychological inquiry somewhat frustrated. It would seem that any understanding of a public figure would be incomplete without an understanding of the private individual; we are quick to draw such connections in everyday life. Boritt himself does so when he suggests that one motivation to write about Lincoln is to bask in his Page [End Page 73] reflected glory and to make a name for oneself, a sort of petty "quest for immortality"; one might, with tongue slightly in cheek, suggest that Anderson and Forgie, each trying to unmask tyrants, also look to unmake reputations, thus committing their own act of oedipal "murder" in the dual sense of killing Lincoln and overthrowing the work of their professional predecessors. It is well to remember that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. We can now reread Strozier's summary in the context of Michael Burlingame's provocative study of Lincoln's "inner world" and reassess Forgie's treatment of the Lincoln-Douglas rivalry in light of Robert Johannsen's Lincoln, the South, and Slavery (1991) and David Zarefsky's Lincoln, Douglas, and Slavery (1990). If the commentators for these three presentations warn us of the problematic nature of such speculation, it nevertheless remains true that biographers who forego weaving public and private worlds do so at their own peril.
The final two sections deal with variations of assassination: murder and biography. William Hanchett offers readers a summary of the conclusions he reached in The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies (1983); so does Thomas R. Turner in an essay bearing the same title as his book, Beware the People Weeping (1982). Both authors remind us that one reason so many stories about Lincoln's assassination persist is because historians do not devote much time to researching and writing about such events, leaving it to popular writers, sensationalizers, and the like to make what they may of conspiracy rumors. In some sense, their cry has been heeded: Hanchett's essay barely and only indirectly alludes to the evidence about John Wilkes Booth's prior scheming that ultimately appeared as Come Retribution (1988), in which collaborators William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall, and David W. Gaddy examined the complicity of Confederate authorities in Booth's plans to kidnap the president—a case Tidwell developed in his 1995 book, April '65. James M. McPherson elaborates on Hanchett's essay, while Harold M. Hyman offers a few observations on military and civil justice; it is left to James W. Clarke, student of assassins, to object to Turner's characterization of Booth as "a deranged gunman," which in turn serves as a point of departure for a short foray into American society's compulsion to characterize assassins as insane (in response, Turner wondered whether Clarke had gone to the other extreme of explaining Booth's motivation primarily in terms of his political agenda).
Except for the work exploring links between the Confederate government and Booth, the call for more scholarship on Lincoln's assassination has fallen on deaf ears. Hanchett and Turner did such Page [End Page 74] a good job in setting the assassination and the literature about it in context that other scholars have found little to add. They might look beyond Lincoln proper to issues such as security for presidents, covert operations, and popular responses to murder and murderers. Although Lincoln was the first president to die at an assassin's hands, he was certainly not the first president to be threatened (in fact, only Richard Lawrence's botched handling of his handguns saved Andrew Jackson from being the first president to be shot). Yet Booth's act did not change attitudes about protecting the president. No one has thought to draw connections between different forms of political violence in the Civil War era, from Bleeding Kansas and Bleeding Sumner all the way to Memphis, New Orleans, and Colfax—each in turn a challenge to democratic political institutions as forums for decision making. Scholarship in these areas would do much to place Lincoln's assassination in a wider context.
Two historians take on three biographers—only one of whom appears to have been present at the Gettysburg conference. Richard N. Current has many good things to say about a book that has more recently come under fire: Stephen B. Oates's With Malice toward None (1977). Readers of Oates's biography are surprised to learn that the author pledged "not to canonize or denigrate him, but to draw a portrait that is fair and unflinching in its realism," in an effort to present him as "a human being" instead of "an immortal saint" (Oates, xv–xvi). For, as Current points out, Oates presents Lincoln in a very positive, flattering light, committed to black freedom, yet wiser than his Radical Republican associates in knowing when and how to press for it while preserving the Union. Current reminds us that important differences in means and ends separated Lincoln from Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens, although he has little patience with claims that Lincoln was a deep-seated racist. Undoubtedly, he would feel more comfortable with the Lincoln in David Donald's biography, although not entirely so. In reply, Oates stands his ground, once more celebrating Lincoln as the Great Emancipator and expressing disappointment that Current did not say more about other aspects of the book.
Current's curt, dismissive assessment of Oscar and Mary Handlin's short biography seems richly warranted, for virtually no one can come away from reading that book without feeling that it was a sad mistake. Elsewhere Boritt observes that the critics of the Handlins' effort perhaps betrayed a little chagrin at "not gaffing the assignment for themselves" (xxii). In fact, there remains plenty of Page [End Page 75] opportunity for anyone who wants to prepare a short biography. Had the Handlins done their job to their critics' satisfaction, such might not be the case. As it stands, promised brief studies by William Gienapp and Robert W. Johannsen have yet to appear nearly a decade after Boritt alerted readers about these projects (xxiii).
Don Fehrenbacher takes Gore Vidal to task for some aspects of his portrayal of the sixteenth president in Lincoln (1984)—a book in which careful readers will detect a trace of the perspectives offered by Strozier, Anderson, and Bradford. Vidal sought historians' validation by having David Donald peruse the manuscript, yet evaded their strictures about evidence by subtitling the book A Novel, allowing him to play either side of the street according to circumstances—an opportunity he has not neglected in defending the book in a series of ill-tempered jabs at his critics. It will thus come as some surprise to those people who devour Vidal's words as truth and nothing but the truth to learn that Fehrenbacher also has some positive things to say about the book. What disturbs him most about Vidal's book is the tendency of reviewers, innocent of historical knowledge, to accept it as accurate history. He takes no comfort in Boritt's statement that Vidal and others "serve history ... by enchanting a large public that historians cannot hope to reach" (xxiii); so, after all, did the proponents of various conspiracies about Lincoln's assassination.
False dichotomies, real and potential, characterize this debate. Biographies of prominent Americans written by historians sometimes share the same disregard for factual accuracy and selective use and abuse of evidence that Fehrenbacher finds in Vidal, and professional historians who review these works do not always catch these errors: Once in a while such a book may even win a Pulitzer Prize. Rather, it is easier for some people to take on Vidal precisely because he is not a historian and because of his own dubious tactics in defending his work: better to risk finding oneself portrayed as an uninspired scholar by the colorful Vidal than to open oneself to professional reprisals from offended colleagues and their friends for highlighting a biographer's inadequacies. This cannot be said of Fehrenbacher or another of Vidal's critics—Current: both scholars have always called them as they see them, letting the chips fall where they may. And historians should be disturbed and perhaps provoked by Boritt's comment about an audience "historians cannot hope to reach," for one might define the central dilemma of the American historical profession as rooted in its declining influence in shaping the historical awareness of Page [End Page 76] the American public. We might know more about the past, but no one else knows that we do, and that will continue as long as professional historians write primarily for each other and disparage the efforts of those who strive for a broader audience. It might well be argued that many topics that presently engage historians are of little interest to others, but that cannot be said of Lincoln or the Civil War; if historians leave it to Gore Vidal to explain Abraham Lincoln to the American people, they have no one but themselves to blame for the result.
Another of Boritt's observations about Lincoln studies—that a number of nonspecialists make contributions to Lincoln scholarship—remains undeveloped. One might question whether Michael F. Holt would have classified his 1986 essay on Lincoln and the Republicans as part of "Lincoln studies" as opposed to simply American political history; nor is it clear that James M. McPherson still deserves classification as a "nonspecialist" in light of his own writings on Lincoln, including his 1991 book of essays, Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution. One detects in Garry Wills's stimulating Lincoln at Gettysburg (1992) hints of the Lincoln offered by Thurow and even Vidal, but much of the richness of his argument comes from the fact that he grounds the president's remarks that November afternoon in larger contexts, demonstrating the special value of the nonspecialist. What, exactly, constitutes a "Lincoln specialist" or the field of "Lincoln studies"? Boritt offers no definition. At one point, he observes that "the most heatedly fought-over subject of Lincoln studies" concerns the president's policies on slavery and emancipation (xvi): one might observe that at least some of the participants in the recent debate over "who freed the slaves?" would resent the classification of that debate as part of "Lincoln studies." Some of the best work on Lincoln presented at the Gettysburg conference benefits from the very fact that it was presented by people who would find the label of "Lincoln specialist" too confining as a description of their interests; such work, then and now, does much to establish Lincoln's place and role in American history. More amusing is Boritt's comment that some students of Lincoln "must instinctively sense that somewhere on their road acclaim might be waiting with its rewards" (xxi)—including, perhaps, a large chunk of the Lincoln Prize.
It is too bad that the University of Illinois Press did not take the opportunity of a reprint to correct several egregious errors in the text, such as "George McGregor Burns" (182), "Frank S. Williams" (xxiii), and "John V. Simon" (xxi). And it is also too bad that Boritt Page [End Page 77] did not offer a new preface for this edition that would incorporate his reflections on how the themes of the volume have fared since its initial appearance. "Only the years to come will tell, however, whether through this book that gathering of scholars has also made a lasting and worthwhile contribution to the study of Lincoln," he mused in 1988; eight years later, he might well have taken stock. What of the generation of Lincoln scholars Boritt must have hoped to cultivate with this book? Who are the authors of today's new Lincoln studies? How much turnover has there been since 1984? Not much, one might argue. Mark Neely has fulfilled Boritt's prediction of "a major book," and Paludan has treated us to a wonderful examination of the Lincoln presidency, while Merrill Peterson (another of those "nonspecialists") has surveyed Lincoln's image and reputation in American memory. Michael Burlingame's explorations of Lincoln's personality and private life may be the best example of recent work rooted in concerns raised in The Historian's Lincoln; Douglas Wilson's Honor's Voice (1998) offers a fresh and thoughtful discussion of Lincoln's maturation grounded upon more traditional approaches. Here and there one comes across projects mentioned by Boritt that have failed to materialize: The most important success story aside from those mentioned above may be the compilation of Lincoln's legal papers, while Boritt may be rejoicing that nothing has come of Bradford's threat to embark on a full-scale study.
Some of the themes highlighted in the volume continue to attract historians' attention and engage their energy; others have proven less compelling and enduring. Its retrospective nature precluded it from anticipating several recent trends in Lincoln scholarship. There is no assessment of Lincoln's entire presidency, a yawning gap admirably filled by Paludan's masterful overview. Nor is there anything on Lincoln as commander in chief, a topic that cries out for new treatment. The collection lacks a sustained examination of Lincoln's political skills, something that both Paludan and Neely have since skillfully addressed. Boritt failed to anticipate the renewed flurry of interest in Lincoln and Ann Rutledge, although one must add that few people outside the community of Lincoln scholars noticed it.
Thus, this volume brings together the work that in the majority of cases is now at least fifteen years old and with few exceptions includes something from the usual suspects (Donald is the most surprising absentee). It probably comes as no surprise that the assemblage consists mostly of white males. If the result does not of- Page [End Page 78] fer a snapshot of the Lincoln establishment, it nonetheless comes close. And yet one must note that even its youngest members are now rounding into the middle years of their scholarly careers. Effective as a way of summing up a decade's worth of scholarship on Lincoln, the collection is far less successful in pointing the way to the future, and its record as a crystal ball is mixed. It remains unclear who is at the forefront of the next generation of Lincoln scholarship—or how their work will differ from that of their predecessors. One hears talk of a multivolume biography in the works, and there are several topics worth reexamination, but there are precious few self-identified Lincoln scholars in the ranks of the rising generation of American historians. As this volume attests, the Lincoln theme is far from exhausted (even if some topics deserve a rest); it remains to be seen who will next explore it. Page [End Page 79]