The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and MemoryA Lincoln Forum Book


The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most prominent events in U.S. history. It continues to attract enormous and intense interest from scholars, writers, and armchair historians alike, ranging from painstaking new research to wild-eyed speculation. At the end of the Lincoln bicentennial year, and the onset of the Civil War sesquicentennial, the leading scholars of Lincoln and his murder offer in one volume their latest studies and arguments about the assassination, its aftermath, the...
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The Lincoln Assassination: Crime and Punishment, Myth and Memory A Lincoln Forum Book

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The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln remains one of the most prominent events in U.S. history. It continues to attract enormous and intense interest from scholars, writers, and armchair historians alike, ranging from painstaking new research to wild-eyed speculation. At the end of the Lincoln bicentennial year, and the onset of the Civil War sesquicentennial, the leading scholars of Lincoln and his murder offer in one volume their latest studies and arguments about the assassination, its aftermath, the extraordinary public reaction (which was more complex than has been previously believed), and the iconography that Lincoln's murder and deification inspired. Contributors also offer the most up-to-date accounts of the parallel legal event of the summer of 1865-the relentless pursuit, prosecution, and punishment of the conspirators. Everything from graphic tributes to religious sermons, to spontaneous outbursts on the streets of the nation's cities, to emotional mass-mourning at carefully organized funerals, as well as the imposition of military jurisprudence to try theconspirators, is examined in the light of fresh evidence and insightful analysis.The contributors are among the finest scholars who are studying Lincoln's assassination. All have earned well-deserved reputations for the quality of their research, their thoroughness, their originality, and their writing. In addition to the editors, contributors include Thomas R. Turner, Edward Steers Jr., Michael W. Kauffman, Thomas P. Lowry, Richard E. Sloan, Elizabeth D. Leonard, and Richard Nelson Current.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the fourth volume from scholarly collective the Lincoln Forum (following Lincoln Revisited), 10 contributors turn their attention to the 16th president's assassination. Editors Holzer and Williams collaborate on an interesting (and well-illustrated) look at popular engravings and prints portraying Lincoln's final hours, some of which put a crowd of 50 at Lincoln's deathbed, in a room large enough for no more than a half-dozen. Richard Sloan looks at Lincoln's funeral procession and his time lying in state in New York City, with interesting insight for amateur urban historians. Thomas Lowry's "Not Everybody Mourned Lincoln's Death" is vivid but narrow, focusing on the easily-grasped point that many Americans, on the heels of the Civil War, were glad to see Lincoln dead. Multiple articles look at the trial of John Wilkes Booth's conspirators, often disagreeing about which of the accused, convicted and hanged were actually guilty. Thomas R. Turner notes that as early as the 1860s, "historians were agonizing that... there was little left to be said" about Lincoln; while this collection does reinforce that idea, it also turns up enough unanswered or undecided questions to hold readers' interest and promise more scholarship to come. B&w illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher

The nine essays in The Lincoln Assassination--all of them excellent--explore, in the words of the introduction, 'the legal, cultural, political, and even emotional consequences of the assassination.'-Henry Cohen

Unlike other scholars who couch assassin John Wilkes Booth's motivations in the politics of the time (his romanticization of the South and anguish at its perceived oppression), Holzer locates Booth's disenchantment within the bosom of the idiosyncratic, theatrical Booth clan.-Georgette Gouveia

Can there possibly be anything new to add to the millions of words already written about Abraham Lincoln's assassination and its aftermath? The answer is a resounding yes, and much of it is contained in this slim but enormously informative and thought-provoking volume. Exploring topics such as the identity of those who kept vigil at the President's deathbed, the joy that some Americans felt when they learned what Booth had done, and the character of the judge who presided over the conspirators' trial, this collection of essays offers welcome - and yes, new - insight into a tragedy whose history-shaping impact remains undiminished after 145 years.-Richard Moe, President

"The volume serves as an introductory sampling of those unfamiliar with the work of these scholars." -The Journal of Southern History

"The appearance of these thoughtful essays is thus useful for no other reason than to separate myth from history." -H-CivWar

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823232260
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 6/7/2010
  • Series: North's Civil War Series
  • Edition description: 2
  • Pages: 263
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

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 thirty-five books.

Craig L. Symonds is Professor Emeritus at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he taught courses on the American Civil War and naval history for thirty years. He is the author of twelve books, most recently Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War, which won the Barondess/Lincoln Prize, the Daniel and Marilyn Laney Prize, the John Lyman Book Award, and the Lincoln Prize in 2009.

Frank J. Williams , a renowned Lincoln scholar, is a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island, a member of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and author or editor of many books, including Judging Lincoln. He is chair of the Lincoln Forum.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Introduction 1

1 Lincoln's Deathbed in Art and Memory: The "Rubber Room" Phenomenon Frank J. Williams Williams, Frank J. 9

2 Abraham Lincoln's New York City Funeral Richard E. Sloan Sloan, Richard E. 55

3 Not Everybody Mourned Lincoln's Death Thomas P. Lowry Lowry, Thomas P. 95

4 Lincoln's Chief Avenger: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt Elizabeth D. Leonard Leonard, Elizabeth D. 115

5 The Lincoln Assassination in Law and Lore Frank J. Williams Williams, Frank J. 137

6 Writing History in a Vacuum: The Lincoln Assassination Thomas R. Turner Turner, Thomas R. 157

7 "Let the Stain of Innocent Blood Be Removed from the Land": The Military Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators Edward Steers Jr. Steers, Edward, Jr. 175

8 Process versus Truth in the Case of the Lincoln Conspiracy Michael W. Kauffman Kauffman, Michael W. 195

9 The Martyr and the Myth: The Lincoln Nobody Knows Richard Nelson Current Current, Richard Nelson 217

List of Contributors 241

Board of Advisors of the Lincoln Forum 245

Index 247

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