Remembering the Life and Legacy of Abraham Lincoln

TUE, APR 14, 2015 (1:18:39)

"Abraham Lincoln was born dirt poor, had less than one year of formal schooling, and became the nation's greatest president," wrote Harvard's Dr. John Stauffer, an author and leading scholar on Lincoln, antislavery and social protest movements. One hundred fifty years ago on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, shot the 16th President during a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came just five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War. Lincoln's assassination united blacks and whites in the North as never before and "made us kin," as Frederick Douglass said. Dr. Stauffer calls this "Lincoln's most enduring legacy: as inspiration for Americans of all stripes to unite and work together to fulfill, finally, the nation's ideals of freedom and equality of opportunity for all."

+ BIO: John Stauffer

John Stauffer writes and lectures on the Civil War era, antislavery, social protest movements, and visual culture. He is the author of seven books and more than 45 articles, including The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (2002), which won four major awards, including the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, the Avery Craven Book Award, and the Lincoln Prize runner-up.

His essays have appeared in Time Magazine, Raritan, New York Post, 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography, and The Harvard Review; and he has appeared on national radio and television shows. His new book, GIANTS: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, was published in November 2008. Currently, John is completing a book with Sally Jenkins on radical interracialism and Unionism in Civil War era Mississippi. The story, Free State of Jones, will appear as a major motion picture by the filmmaker Gary Ross, with whom John served as a scholarly consultant.

John received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1999, began teaching at Harvard that year, and was tenured in 2004. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife, Deborah Cunningham, and their two-year-old son, Erik Isaiah Stauffer.

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