Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed

Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed

by Charles Strozier

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On April 15, 1837, a "long, gawky" Abraham Lincoln walked into Joshua Speed's dry-goods store in Springfield, Illinois, and asked what it would cost to buy the materials for a bed. Speed said seventeen dollars, which Lincoln didn't have. He asked for a loan to cover that amount until Christmas. Speed was taken with his visitor, but, as he said later, "I never saw so gloomy and melancholy a face." Speed suggested Lincoln stay with him in a room over his store for free and share his large double bed. What began would become one of the most important friendships in American history.

Speed was Lincoln's closest confidant, offering him invaluable support after the death of his first love, Ann Rutledge, and during his rocky courtship of Mary Todd. Lincoln needed Speed for guidance, support, and empathy. Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln is a rich analysis of a relationship that was both a model of male friendship and a specific dynamic between two brilliant but fascinatingly flawed men who played off each other's strengths and weaknesses to launch themselves in love and life. Their friendship resolves important questions about Lincoln's early years and adds significant psychological depth to our understanding of our sixteenth president.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780231541305
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 8 MB

About the Author

Charles B. Strozier, a historian and psychoanalyst, is a professor of history at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, and faculty, training, and supervising analyst at TRISP in New York City. His books include Lincoln's Quest for Union: Public and Private Meanings (1982) and Until the Fires Stopped Burning: 9/11 and New York City in the Words and Experiences of Survivors and Witnesses (2011).

Table of Contents

A Note on Sources
1. Beginnings
2. Two Friends, One Bed
3. Friendship
4. Depression
5. Sex and Prostitution
6. Broken Engagement
7. The Winter of Discontent
8. Kentucky Bluegrass
9. Homeward Bound
10. A Vicarious Romance
11. Mary Todd, Once Again
12. The Crucible of Greatness
Conclusions: On Friendship
List of Abbreviations

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Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Casey07 More than 1 year ago
I received a free PDF copy of Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln by Charles B. Strozier courtesy of Net Galley and Columbia University Press, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages. I requested this book as I have read a number of biographies about the Presidents of the United States including several on Abraham Lincoln.  This is the first book by Charles B. Strozier that I have read. The subtitle of the book, "The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Josuha Speed", accurately describes the content. The primary focus is on Lincoln's early years before he becomes President. The book attempts to provide more of a pyschoanalytic look at Lincoln and the relations with Speed (stressing that they were not gay), the causes for Lincoln's dark moods and depression and his vacillation in his courting of Mary Todd. I found the author's writing style to be on the dry side which can really hamper a history book, but the subject may be interesting enough for others to undertake reading it or find the author's writing style more to their taste that I did.
Roslandium More than 1 year ago
This is a thorough investigation of the friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed and an enjoyably readable explication of the facts. It has, though, I believe, an undeniable subtext: an attempt to counter the claim that they had a homosexual relationship, not that author Strozier makes any secret of his opinion on that subject. But one thing becomes undeniably clear in the course of the examination: Lincoln and Speed deeply loved each other, whatever that means in the context of their sexuality which we can only guess at. Both managed to function heterosexually though both shared a horror of heterosexual consummation. That and the prospect of marriage and the end of their relationship led to severe depression and suicidality, particularly for Lincoln. It is entirely unjustifiable to presume that the two were heterosexual simply because they married and had children. They famously shared a bed in a room shared with another man, William Herndon, later to become Lincoln’s law partner and biographer. What did the three do for sex before marriage? Abstain? Did all three satisfy their urges with masturbation, Lincoln and Speed together? To what degree did they indulge in sex with prostitutes? But if Lincoln and Speed loved each other, and having elementary sex in another bed, how could Herndon not have noticed? Or did he suppress or ignore his observation, thinking it an embarrassment to the subject of his hagiography, especially if it were just limited to sex in an elementary form? We’ll never know. Strozier is committed to their heterosexuality, but the entire story leads one to much less confident conclusions. Could Abraham Lincoln, who accomplished from his beginnings in a rude cabin more than almost any other person in history, leading the forces that destroyed a monstrously evil social system, have practiced sex in a way still generally considered repugnant, if less anathematized? Strozier is very liberal, supports gay civil rights forthrightly, and has no apparent prejudice. That being said, why deny that the facts he elucidates militate that Lincoln and Speed were going through all the things that gay men have had to go through in a society in which heterosexual marriage was a requirement for social respectability? It appears to me that they were able to muster the degree of heterosexuality necessary to avoid having to deal with homosexual anathema, though it is also must be considered very probable, all things accounted for, that they would have preferred a homosexual life if they had the freedom to do so. Strozier is a psychoanalyst, but for whatever reason does not make the connection that both Lincoln and Speed had great dislike for, and rejected, their fathers and adored their mothers and the role this plays in the development of homosexuality. Genetics may certainly predispose one to homosexuality, but equally predisposing, in my opinion, is this psychological profile. It is often rejected because it is an opening for homophobic ideologues to claim that homosexuality is a psychopathology, but no matter. These troglodytes need not be paid attention when trying to discover reality. The Lincoln/Speed relationship, now so well documented, may well be the most thoroughly documented case of how 19th century predominantly homosexual men had to maneuver themselves in life to maintain their sanity as best they could and have the conventional marriages that they so desperately felt they needed to have.
rscTN More than 1 year ago