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Lincoln's Unknown Private Life: An Oral History by His Black Housekeeper Mariah Vance, 1850-1860

Overview

This memoir presents invaluable evidence for in the continuing debates about African-American language of the period and Lincoln's personal life.

Unknown for more than a century, these recollections by Abraham Lincoln's housekeeper paint a new portrait of the man before he became president. The editors include authenticating documents and statements from respected Lincoln scholars which verify the book's contents. 40 sepia prints.

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Overview

This memoir presents invaluable evidence for in the continuing debates about African-American language of the period and Lincoln's personal life.

Unknown for more than a century, these recollections by Abraham Lincoln's housekeeper paint a new portrait of the man before he became president. The editors include authenticating documents and statements from respected Lincoln scholars which verify the book's contents. 40 sepia prints.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mariah Vance, an African American, worked for Abraham Lincoln as a domestic in Springfield, Illinois, from 1850 to 1860. In 1900, Adah Sutton, a white teenager, took systematic notes on Vance's by then often-repeated stories of life with the future President. Those notes form the basis for the work reviewed here. Its authenticity has been questioned, but its contents are scarcely earthshaking. Vance's most controversial assertion, that Lincoln was secretly baptized by a Baptist minister after his election as President, remains unverifiable. Other anecdotes describe details of the Lincolns' domestic economy, the strained relations between Lincoln and his wife, the rise of local attorney Lincoln to national political prominence. The whole adds up to a buff book, an interesting addition to the body of Lincolniana. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Lincoln scholars disagree as to the authenticity and accuracy of this manuscript purporting to be remembrances of Vance, a maid who worked for the Lincolns during the 1850s. Stories include Lincoln's "secret" baptism, Mary Lincoln's drug addiction and jealousy, and day-to-day family tensions all recounted by Vance years later to a woman named Ada Sutton, who kept shorthand notes of the tales. The transcription was sold to Lincolniana collector Ostendorf, who sought a publisher for this unique manuscript. As editor, journalist Olesky clarified the black English dialect of Vance and offered a historical perspective. Nonetheless, given questions about the book's provenance, it is not a recommended purchase.-Ann Owens, Wabash Valley Coll., Mt. Carmel, Ill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803893757
  • Publisher: Hastings House Daytrips Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/1/1995
  • Pages: 600
  • Product dimensions: 8.29 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.63 (d)

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