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Ed Linenthal
Journal of American History

Last modified: Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Journal of American History marks Lincoln centennial with special issue

Sept. 22, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- "Has the Lincoln Theme Been Exhausted?" the historian James G. Randall asked in a 1936 essay. Not then, and not now. The Journal of American History makes the point this month with a special issue marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of America's 16th president.

More than 70 years after Randall raised the question, "there has never been a more active or creative period in Lincoln studies," writes Civil War historian Matthew Pinsker in an assessment of Lincoln scholarship that leads off a round table on Lincoln scholarship.

Abraham Lincoln at 200: History and Historiography is the title of the September 2009 issue of the journal, published at Indiana University by the Organization of American Historians.

  • In "Young Men for War: The Wide Awakes and Lincoln's 1860 Presidential Campaign," Jon Grinspan examines how militaristic clubs energized young voters and boosted support for Lincoln. Their presence "ratcheted up sectional pressure and invested Lincoln's election with weighty significance," he writes, contributing to Southern secession and the Civil War.
  • Dorothy Ross argues that recent historians have emphasized Lincoln's opposition to slavery to the neglect of his ardent nationalism. In "Lincoln, Nationalism, and the Ethics of Emancipation," she writes that American leaders' allegiance to the nation both blocked and advanced the emancipation of slaves.
  • Allen C. Guelzo explores the appearances of the 16th president in the JAH in "The Not-So-Grand Review: Abraham Lincoln in the Journal of American History." Guelzo writes that the journal's coverage has been inadequate, but that it mirrors trends in 20th century Lincoln scholarship.

The issue also includes a round table on "Lincoln Studies at the Bicentennial," with essays by Pinsker, Edward L. Ayers, Catherine Clinton, Michael F. Holt, Mark E. Neely Jr. and Douglas L. Wilson; and a conversation by 11 scholars on "The Global Lincoln."

In the JAH Podcast for September 2009, editor Ed Linenthal speaks with Pinsker about his state-of-the-field article, "Lincoln Theme 2.0." Civil War historian Pinsker is an associate professor at Dickinson College and a lecturer in the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lectureship series.

The issue and links to podcasts and other materials are online at