Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lincoln and the South Conference

It has been said that more books have been written on Lincoln than any other one man in history other than I don't know if that is true or not, but the next time you go to your local bookstore, just go to the biography or history section and you will see that Lincoln takes up a significant amount of space. One reason for that is this is the bicentenial of this birth (2/12/1809). Trivia time...what other notable of history was born on that month, day, and year? Charles Darwin! But back to Lincoln. Of course another reason for his recent rise in coverage was and is President Obama's interest in Lincoln and the struggles he faced during his war time administrations.

It has been a real pleasure the last two and a half days to be able to attend the Lincoln and the South Conference hosted by the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, and held at the University of Richmond. I think I speak for most all of the attendees when I say, congratulations for putting on a top rate conference.

The level of scholarship that presented different aspects of Lincoln's relationship to the South was outstanding. A veritable who's who of Civil War and Lincoln academia was in attendence. Many of my favorite historians participated, including Charles Dew, Edward Ayers (a fellow East Tennessean), David Blight, Emory Thomas, Leslie Rowland, Nina Sibler, and William Cooper. I also enjoyed the perspectives of historians Michael Burlingame, Manisha Sinha, Brian Dirck, Fitzhugh Brundage, and Christopher Phillips. From the opening address on Thursday evening by the well known and respected James McPherson to the closing remarks by John McCardell, the presentations and discussions enlightened us all. Being able to meet many of these historians in person was a real treat.

Lincoln is a fascinating man. Whether you personally like him or not is not important. What is important, is to understand him and his place in American history. I now feel that I have a better grasp on Lincoln the man, the Lincoln the myth, and Lincoln the American by having attended this conference.

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