Greetings all – I’ve recently been asked to write a review essay on Brian J. Snee’s new book, Lincoln before Lincoln, for the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. Of course, I happily agreed to take on the project – Snee’s book concerns the cinematic adaptations of the life of Honest Abe. I mean…how could I pass, especially since I am working on a project about depicting historical actors and events in a motion picture.
To get in the right frame of mind (I have a little time on my hands this summer) I thought I would watch a number of Lincoln films – or films at least featuring the sixteenth president as a character. Asking around through the usual social media channels for recommendations has yielded a fine harvest of Lincoln movies. So far, the most frequently recommended film is John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln, starring Henry Fonda. I’m on it…and prepared to watch it this weekend…so expect a follow up. In addition, folks have suggested I check out Lincoln in a more pop-culture setting, such as Lincoln, the time traveler (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure) or vampire killing super hero (Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter).
But in all seriousness, there are any number of ways one can interpret the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln: great emancipator, commander in chief, astute and practical politician, husband, father, country bumpkin, rail-splitter, and I suppose, vampire hunter. Please leave your recommendations in the comments below – before I start writing, I want to see as many Lincolns as I can.
All things considered…this may be wishful thinking.
We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
A. Lincoln, March 1, 1861
Today I am featuring these cool vintage postcards depicting some Gettysburg battlefield tourist hot-spots. And…to let you know, if you do not already, that I have put together what I think is a pretty chill web-course on the battle. I designed it especially for high school APUSH and college students who want to know the battle and the historical context in which it unfolded. I also think it is great for anyone with an interest (buffs…I love buffs) in Civil War history or for those planning a trip to the national battlefield park. It will certainly get you in the Gettysburg mood. You can access the course HERE.
And this is what the reviewers think:
Succinct but detailed presentation by an instructor with an engaging style. Nice visuals. Very good production values.
Super concise and thorough. Love how he makes learning history fun 🙂
Professor Harris delivered an engaging and interesting way of approaching history. Rather than lecture and expect his students to accept his words at face value, Professor Harris challenges the student to engage the material and question long standing beliefs held by many. His integration of social media as a way of communicating ideas and engaging the material is superb. As he lectured, Professor Harris would periodically pop up in a side window to ask thought provoking questions, or to emphasize a point he had just made. Suffice to say, Professor Harris had no trouble making history come alive.
And there are more courses in production right now. I am nearing completion of a comprehensive course on the Reconstruction Era, and naturally, there is a Civil War course under development too.
So enjoy and please let me know what you think!
As I work on a project today concerning the presidential election of 1868, I am struck by both the Republican and Democratic campaign posters. Both show a strong commitment to American nationalism and virtue and of course, both show dedication to the late Union war effort. This was an easy one for Ulysses S. Grant, who after all, was second only to Lincoln in the Union hero pantheon. But illustrating dedication to cause was a little more touchy for Horatio Seymour, a New York career politician who supported the war effort but was highly critical of Lincoln’s conduct during the war. This, at least partly, explains his vice-presidential choice: Union army veteran Frank P. Blair. I’ll be posting more of these on Twitter as the day goes on so be sure and check them out.
I think you will all enjoy the most recent additions to the Americanist Independent website – under the Music, Art, and Literature section. We are featuring the music of Dusty Elmer, a New Yorker who plays a mean clawhammer banjo, reminiscent of old-time Appalachia, and the artwork of Wendy Allen. Her execution of Lincoln portraiture captures the essence of the man.
I think you will find, as I do, that both of these contributors add great value to the Americanist Independent site. And by the way, if you have not already figured it out, the scholarly journal is now published quarterly – so stay tuned for the next issue on April 1.