Lincoln Group Members: Promoting Lincoln Scholarship and His Legacy

Wendy Swanson

Washington D.C.

October 14, 2021


Lincoln Group President David Kent and Immediate Past President John O'Brien are just two of our members who are contributing to our knowledge of Lincoln. However, they are not the only members to do so.


Member News: Over the years members of the Lincoln Group of DC (LGDC) have become respected leaders in the Lincoln scholarship community. They contribute in various ways to the growth of our knowledge of Lincoln and to the impact Lincoln’s leadership has on today’s society. The Lincoln Group is pleased to recognize the recent work of members to promote a deeper understanding of Lincoln and his times. Here is what just some of our folks have been up to.


At the Library of Congress

We were delighted to receive an email from member Michelle A. Krowl, Ph.D. announcing that the Blair Family Papers are now easily accessible online at this link: https://www.loc.gov/collections/blair-family-papers/about-this-collection/. This is the latest result from the Library of Congress’s By the People crowdsourcing initiative. Volunteers have helped get more of the Library’s collections available online by transcribing documents from home through the access link https://crowd.loc.gov/. Krowl is the Civil War and Reconstruction specialist in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.


The papers of the Blair family include those of the patriarch Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), journalist and presidential advisor, and his sons Francis Preston (Frank) Blair (1821-1875), soldier and politician, and Montgomery Blair (1813-1883), lawyer and Postmaster General in the Lincoln administration. The papers of Montgomery Blair include a file pertaining to Scott v. Sandford, the United States Supreme Court case in which Montgomery served as counsel for Dred Scott. Correspondents in the Blair Family Papers include most of the prominent public figures of the antebellum and Civil War era.

In Education

Three of our members have developed an adult continuing education course, “Abraham Lincoln: Savior of the Nation,” for Encore Learning in Arlington VA. LGDC President David Kent, and past presidents Ed Steers, Ph.D. and John O’Brien are presenting four class sessions that discuss Lincoln’s early life, his political career, his wartime service as commander-in-chief, and a summary session on the basis of his legacy and why we continue to honor him. Forty students have enrolled for the 6 hour course that is taking place by Zoom every week in October. Our faculty group is exploring ways of making this foundation course available to our members and other organizations at a later date.


In the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (JALA)

The Fall edition of the renowned ALA Journal arrived in mailboxes this week. Among the articles is a review of two books about the Civil War Congress by LGDC past president John O’Brien. His Review Essay compares the differing perspectives taken by William C. Harris in Lincoln and Congress, and Fergus Bordewich in Congress at War: How Republican Reformers Fought the Civil War, Defied Lincoln, Ended Slavery, and Remade America. O’Brien referred to the 1940 analysis by T. Harry Williams of the Radical Republicans who would not compromise on slavery and thereby made political war on Lincoln. This is the theme which Bordewich amplifies to stress the conflict and hostilities that make up the legend today. Harris on the other hand emphasizes the collaboration that was necessary to be able to pass some of the most consequential legislation that invented our post war society. O’Brien recalled listening to Harris at a recent Lincoln Institute when the professor was asked to compare that tumultuous period with Congress today. He declined with the diplomatic response that “The 21st century isn’t my bag.”


When Visioning A Better America

We honor LGDC board member Richard Margolies, Ph.D. for the successful completion of the week-long conference Visioning A Better America. The conference grew out of his idea to bring talented writers and policy researchers together to discuss how the country can move forward from our current dismal level of public discourse using the values and principles we have learned from Abraham Lincoln. The presenters were uniformly outstanding and made for an extraordinary set of views for progress. Richard’s only disappointment was that the conference had to held via Zoom rather that at the U.S. Capitol Building, as had been originally scheduled. Margolies hopes to publish the proceedings this winter. A second annual conference seems very likely. The Lincoln Group is proud to have supported Dr. Margolies in producing the conference.