Friday, January 15, 2010

Teaching Abraham Lincoln in the Classroom

The political and personal life of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, has undergone a fascinating renaissance among historians and the general public alike. Perhaps the recent attention being focused on Lincoln is due to the fact that Barack Obama has proclaimed Lincoln his favorite President and political idol, but the sheer magnitude of Lincoln's life and times has always deserved to be treated with awe and respect: he was the first elected Republican President, led the country through the trauma of the Civil War, was a member of the House of Representatives, delivered the epic Gettysburg Address speech, and introduced the Emancipation Proclamation that ultimately abolished slavery.

To continue teaching the inspiring legacy of Abraham Lincoln with your students, here are some books recommended for classroom use:

A fascinating close-up view of the Abraham Lincoln White House through the eyes of Lincoln's three personal secretaries: John Nicolay, William Stoddard, and John Hay. Sheds a new light on Lincoln—his brilliance and vision in a time of national turmoil and Civil War—by focusing on his relationships with the men who worked closely by his side.

Fred Kaplan explores the life of Abraham Lincoln through his use of language both as a vehicle to express complex ideas and feelings and as an instrument of persuasion and empowerment. This unique account of Lincoln's life and career highlights the shortcomings of the modern presidency, reminding students that the careful and honest use of words is a necessity for successful democracy.

The first new biography in almost 20 years of Mary Todd Lincoln, one of the most enigmatic First Ladies in American history. Abraham Lincoln is the most revered president in American history, but the woman at the center of his life—his wife, Mary—has remained a historical enigma. One of the most tragic and mysterious of 19th-century figures, Mary Lincoln and her story symbolize the pain and loss of Civil War America.

The murder of Abraham Lincoln set off the greatest manhunt in American history. From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, led Union cavalry and detectives on a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia, while the nation, still reeling from the just-ended Civil War, watched in horror and sadness. Manhunt is a fascinating tale of murder, intrigue, and betrayal.
The Civil War was the first "modern war." Among the many modern marvels that gave the North an advantage was the telegraph, which Lincoln used to stay connected to the forces in the field in almost real time. By paying close attention to Lincoln's "lightning messages," students see a great leader adapt to a new medium. Watching Lincoln carefully word his messages—and follow up on those words with the right actions—offers a striking example for those who spend their days tapping out notes on computers and BlackBerrys.

If you are considering adopting any of these books for classroom use, please order an examination copy. If you have already assigned any of these books as required reading, please order a complimentary desk copy.

1 comment:

  1. One book that definitely needs to be on this list is American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies by Michael W. Kauffman. Mr. Kauffman is a leading expert on the assination of Abraham Lincoln, having researched the subject for more than 35 years. The highly-acclaimed American Brutus is the most excellent book to read to learn about this period in our American history.