Summers with Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments

Overview


Across the country, in the middle of busy city squares and hidden on quiet streets, there are nearly 200 statues erected in memory of Abraham Lincoln. No other American has ever been so widely commemorated.A few years ago, anticipating the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth in 2009, Jim Percoco, a history teacher with a passion for both Lincoln and public sculpture, set off to see what he might learn about some of these monuments-what they meant when they were unveiled, and what they mean to us today. The result is...
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Overview


Across the country, in the middle of busy city squares and hidden on quiet streets, there are nearly 200 statues erected in memory of Abraham Lincoln. No other American has ever been so widely commemorated.A few years ago, anticipating the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth in 2009, Jim Percoco, a history teacher with a passion for both Lincoln and public sculpture, set off to see what he might learn about some of these monuments-what they meant when they were unveiled, and what they mean to us today. The result is this captivating book, a fascinating chronicle of four summers on the road looking for Lincoln stories in statues of marble and bronze. Of all the monuments, Percoco selects seven emblematic ones. He begins and ends the journey in Washington, starting with Thomas Ball's Emancipation Group, erected east of the Capitol in 1876 with private funds from African Americans, and dedicated by Frederick Douglass. Here, Percoco and his multi-ethnic band of teenage historians explore the impact of this Freedman's Monument showing Lincoln and a kneeling freed bondsperson. What does the statute say about race and freedom to today's Americans? What did Ball-and his sponsors-want it to say? From Augustus Saint-Gaudens's majestic Standing Lincoln of 1887 in Chicago, which helped move our image of Lincoln from great emancipator to that of statesman to Paul Manship's 1932 Lincoln the Hoosier Youth, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which glows with an art deco sleekness, Percoco mines a wealth of Lincoln legacies-and our reactions to them expressed across generations. Here are controversial gems like Barnard's 1917 tribute in Cincinnati and Borglum's Seated Lincoln, struggling with the pain of leadership, beckoning visitors to sit next to him on his metal bench in Newark, New Jersey. At each stop, Percoco chronicles the history of each monument, spotlighting its artistic, social, political, and cultural origins. His descriptions of works so often seen as clichs tease fresh meaning from mute stone and cold metal-raising provocative questions not just about who Lincoln might have been, but also about what we've wanted him to be in the monuments we've built.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

". . . A captivating book that chronicles four summers on the road looking for Lincoln stories in statues of marble and bronze."-The AIHE Gazette

In Summers with Lincoln: The Man Behind the Monuments, James A. Percoco intrepidly explores the past to share the history of how seven of these monuments came to be, what they meant to their sculptors and the public at their unveilings and what they mean to us today."-The Washington Times

"Percoco, a Lincoln scholar who recently published his third book, Summers With Lincoln: Looking for the Man in the Monuments, doesn't run a typical history course. The seniors spend only part of the year in class. Many of their lessons come as they volunteer at or visit the area's historical sites. That's the applied part of the course."-Washington Post

"Blending scholarship with masterful flair, Percoco smoothly weaves historical stories into his research; the result is a thoroughly accessible account sure to fascinate as well as enlighten readers of all backgrounds."--The Midwest Book Review

"A high school history teacher in Virginia with a passion for Lincoln."-Daily Herald

"Jim Percoco's Summers with Lincoln will amaze readers and inspire teachers."-Gabor Borritt, author of The Lincoln Enigma: The Changing Faces of an American Icon

"Summers with Lincoln is pure pleasure. Part Lincoln biography, part cultural exploration, this one exceptional teacher's journey. . . . takes us all on a wonderful tour of quintessential American monuments. . . . fun and enjoyable."-Kate Clifford Larson, author of The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln

"This splendid evocation of Lincoln's image in sculpture combines poetic description, human-interest anecdotes, and incisive analysis. James Percoco shows how the different styles of public art shed light on the changing memories of our greatest president. Each chapter alone is worth the price of this book."-James M. McPherson, author of This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

"The real secret of the Percoco classroom magic is that unbeatable combination of a love of teaching and an all-out love of his subject. One of the finest examples the nation has of a history teacher."-David McCullough

''Lincoln monuments have become traditional. Tradition is something permanent that reminds the public of something notable. The Lincoln sculptures covered in this book give meaning to life by providing our communities a way to communicate their traditions and beliefs from generation to generation. James Percoco tells us how these statues represent Lincoln's lasting ideas that commemorate those principles we preserve, honor and cherish.''-Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court of Rhode Island and founding chair of The Lincoln Forum

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823228966
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Edition description: 4
  • Pages: 292
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

James A. Percoco is an award-winning history teacher at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Virginia, and is History Educator-in-Residence at American University. He was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission's Advisory Board.

Harold Holzer, Senior Vice President for External Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is one of the nation's leading authorities on Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He served as co-chairman of the U.S. Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and has written, co-written, or edited 35 books.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   Harold Holzer     xi
Preface     xix
Acknowledgments     xxxi
List of Photographs     xxxv
Charlotte's Seed: Thomas Ball's Emancipation Group / Freedmen's Monument (1876), Washington, D.C.     1
The Hero of Hoosierdom: Paul Manship's Lincoln the Hoosier Youth (1932), Fort Wayne, Indiana     31
A Different Kind of Civil War: George Grey Barnard's Lincoln (1917), Cincinnati, Ohio     49
Contemplative Statesmanship: Augustus Saint-Gaudens's Standing Lincoln (1887), Chicago, Illinois     89
Lincoln of Gethsemane: Gutzon Borglum's Seated Lincoln (1911), Newark, New Jersey     119
Lincoln the Mystic: James Earle Fraser's Lincoln (1930), Jersey City, New Jersey     145
A Lincoln for the Masses: Daniel Chester French's Seated Lincoln (1922), Washington, D.C.     175
Afterword     205
Other Lincoln Memorials of Note     207
State-by-State Breakdown of Lincoln Sculptures     219
Notes     221
Bibliography     227
Index     235
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