Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President

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In the more than 140 years since his death, Abraham Lincoln has become America's most revered president. The mythmaking about this self-made man began early, some of it starting during his campaign for the presidency in 1860. As an American icon, Lincoln has been the subject of speculation and inquiry as authors and researchers have examined every aspect — personal and professional — of the president's life. In Lincoln Legends, noted historian and Lincoln expert Edward Steers Jr. carefully scrutinizes some of the most notorious tall tales and distorted ideas about America's sixteenth president. These inaccuracies and speculations about Lincoln's personal and professional life abound. Did he write his greatest speech on the back of an envelope on the way to Gettysburg? Did Lincoln appear before a congressional committee to defend his wife against charges of treason? Was he an illegitimate child? Did Lincoln have romantic encounters with women other than his wife? Did he have love affairs with men? What really happened in the weeks leading up to April 14, 1865, and in the aftermath of Lincoln's tragic assassination? Lincoln Legends evaluates the evidence on all sides of the many heated debates about the Great Emancipator. Not only does Steers weigh the merits of all relevant arguments and interpretations, but he also traces the often fascinating evolution of flawed theories about Lincoln and uncovers the motivations of the individuals — occasionally sincere but more often cynical, self-serving, and nefarious — who are responsible for their dispersal. Based on extensive primary research, the conclusions in Lincoln Legends will settle many of the enduring questions and persistent myths about Lincoln's life once and for all. Steers leaves us with a clearer image of Abraham Lincoln as a man, as an exceptionally effective president, and as a deserving recipient of the nation's admiration.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Through meticulous research, Steers eventually uncovers a larger irony: Lincoln, whom he calls 'a passionate advocate for truth,' will forever be shrouded in legend."— New York Post" —

"Through meticulous research, Steers eventually uncovers a larger irony: Lincoln, whom he calls "a passionate advocate for truth," will forever be shrouded in legend."—New York Post" —

"Steers confronts the many distorted and fabricated stories about Abraham Lincoln... and deconstructs them with the exacting tenacity of a surgeon."— Blue & Gray Magazine" —

"Readers will be fascinated by the variety of tales told about Lincoln's life and death."— Indiana Magazine of Histroy" —

"The greatest favor a parent could do for a school-aged child with an interest in history is to buy a copy of this book and give it to their child's history or social studies teacher."—Blue and Gray Magazine" —

"Steers writes in an engaging style, and this book is highly recommended. It reminds readers that sensational headlines appear on the front page of newspapers while corrections and retractions are placed where few people will read them, allowing the erroneous report to become ingrained in the public mind."— The Historian" —

"Steers has written a book almost certain to appeal to that very wide audience uninterested in exploring the complexity of policymaking or studying Lincoln's role in momentous events."— H-Net Reviews" —

"A delightfully amusing, yet scholarly look at the many bogus tales about Lincoln's origins, life, loves, and death...."— NYMAS Review" —

"In Lincoln Legends, Steers,... gives us a delightfully amusing, yet scholarly look at the many bogus tales about Lincoln's origins, life, loves, and death, as well as some of the folks connected with these." —" —

Publishers Weekly

Noted Lincoln scholar Steers (Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln) succinctly and eloquently debunks 14 popular myths about the Great Emancipator's life and death. Is the so-called "Birthplace Cabin" in Kentucky the real thing? Probably not, save for a few random boards that might linger from the original structure. Was Lincoln's father of record, Thomas Lincoln, actually his father, or was Lincoln the bastard son of Nancy Hanks and another man? According to Steers, Thomas Lincoln sowed the seed in his lawfully wedded wife. Did Lincoln and Ann Rutledge have a love affair? No, says Steers. He also takes on such questions as whether Mary Lincoln was a Confederate spy (nope), whether the famous "lost draft" of the Gettysburg Address is real or a forgery (forgery) and whether the infamous Dr. Samuel Mudd was guilty of duplicity in the Lincoln assassination (guilty as charged). Additionally, Steers dismembers the myth that Lincoln was gay. Throughout, the author backs up his pronouncements with solid documentation: the surest tool for clearing the smoke of fantastic folklore that envelops the 16th president. Photos. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

For those wanting answers about Lincoln, this is a fine volume. Leaving humor to the fun front cover, the contents are at once deferential to those seeking basic information and probing about deeper layers of the president's life. A solid offering displaying expert research; for public and undergraduate libraries.

—Margaret Heilbrun
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813192413
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 8/28/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,455,003
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Steers Jr. is the author of several books, including Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and The Trial: The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators. He appears frequently as a Lincoln expert on PBS, C-SPAN, and the History Channel.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     xi
The Birthplace Cabin     1
Lincoln's Father     14
Abe and Ann     29
Ann Rutledge's Resting Place     51
Was Lincoln Baptized?     60
The Mole in the White House     80
You Can Fool All of the People Some of the Time...     89
The World Will Little Note...     102
The "Lost" Draft of the Gettysburg Address     115
The Gay Lincoln Myth     125
Noble American or Deceptive Doctor?     150
The Missing Pages from Booth's Diary     177
Peanut John     203
The Man Who Never Was     214
Notes     231
Index     253
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