The OAH Magazine of History

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The Lincoln Legacy

A special issue published by the Organization of American Historians and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission for the celebration of Abraham Lincoln's two hundredth birthday this year.

from the editor

Teaching Lincoln’s Legacy, by Carl R. Weinberg

Abraham Lincoln was a big part of my childhood. I was born in the Land of Lincoln, attended Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, played with Lincoln Logs, dreamed of driving a Lincoln Continental, and learned from my iconoclastic father that Lincoln was the only U.S. president who was not, in his words, “a jerk.” Fast forward forty years. On December 9, 2008, one month before this issue went to press, police arrested Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who allegedly sought to profit personally from his appointment of Barack Obama’s successor to the U.S. Senate. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said that Blagojevich’s criminal activity “would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.” While Lincoln Logs have lost ground to computer games and gas guzzling sedans are going out of style, Lincoln retains his hold on the American imagination. Read more >


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Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy Born in Politics,
by Harold Holzer
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Tracing the Roots of Lincoln’s Democratic Vision,
by Joseph R. Fornieri
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Creating a Military Image: Lincoln as Commander in Chief,
by William C. Davis
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The Limits of Gratitude: Lincoln in African American Memory,
by Barry Schwartz
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“Old Abe” in Political Caricature: Revisiting the Drawn Lincoln,
by Gary L. Bunker
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“Abarack Lincoln” and Lincoln's Legacy through Political Cartooning,
by Carl R. Weinberg
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teaching resources

Lincoln’s Pockets: Doing History on Day One,
by Keith A. Erekson
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"To Thee We Sing": Racial Politics and the Lincoln Memorial,
by Keith R. Eberly
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“Living Words”: Using Abe Lincoln in Illinois to Teach Film Analysis and Historical Thinking,
by Christopher Stone
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history today

Does Lincoln Still Matter?,
by Carl R. Weinberg
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on the cover

Lincoln 30, 1999, oil on canvas. Copyright © Wendy Allen.

Artist Wendy Allen is constantly asked why she paints only Abraham Lincoln. “It’s never easy to explain a passion,” says Allen. “For me, his face is familiar and comforting. It symbolizes humanity, wisdom, and moral courage. And he remains one of the few historical figures we can all admire--self-taught, self-made. My hope is that, by transforming the black-and-white and sepia images of the past, I can keep Lincoln within our grasp. I want people to see him as a modern figure, still powerful and relevant and with much to teach us. He never ceases to inspire me.”

Wendy Allen lives in New Milford, Connecticut.