Tag Archives: American History

6 Reads to Celebrate Lincoln’s Legacy

This Sunday marks the 208th birthday of Abraham Lincoln–the only president born in Kentucky! To celebrate, we’re sharing a few of our favorite books about Honest Abe.


morel.final.inddLincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages

Since Abraham Lincoln’s death, generations of Americans have studied his life, presidency, and leadership, often remaking him into a figure suited to the needs and interests of their own time. This illuminating volume takes a different approach to his political thought and practice. Here, a distinguished group of contributors argue that Lincoln’s relevance today is best expressed by rendering an accurate portrait of him in his own era. They seek to understand Lincoln as he understood himself and as he attempted to make his ideas clear to his contemporaries. What emerges is a portrait of a prudent leader who is driven to return the country to its original principles in order to conserve it.

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9780813192413Lincoln Legends: Myths, Hoaxes, and Confabulations Associated with Our Greatest President

As one might expect with a revered national icon, nearly every facet of Abraham Lincoln’s life has been subject to mythmaking as well as academic inquiry of widely varying quality and accuracy. In Lincoln Legends, noted historian and Lincoln expert Edward Steers Jr. carefully scrutinizes some of the most notorious tall tales and distorted ideas about America’s sixteenth President. Did Abraham Lincoln write his greatest speech on the back of an envelope on the way to Gettysburg? Did he appear before a congressional committee to defend his wife against charges of treason? Was Lincoln an illegitimate child? Was he gay? Edward Steers weighs the evidence in these and other heated debates about the Great Emancipator. Steers’s conclusions will satisfy some and disappoint others, and he just might settle some of these enduring questions once and for all.

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canavan.final.inddLincoln’s Final Hours: Conspiracy, Terror, and the Assassination of America’s Greatest President

In Lincoln’s Final Hours, author Kathryn Canavan takes a magnifying glass to the last moments of the president’s life and to the impact his assassination had on a country still reeling from a bloody civil war. With vivid, thoroughly researched prose and a reporter’s eye for detail, this fast-paced account not only furnishes a glimpse into John Wilkes Booth’s personal and political motivations but also illuminates the stories of ordinary people whose lives were changed forever by the assassination. Through her careful narration of the twists of fate that placed the president in harm’s way, of the plotting conversations Booth had with his accomplices, and of the immediate aftermath of the assassination, Canavan illustrates how the experiences of a single night changed the course of history.

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9780813136530Abraham Lincoln, Esq.: The Legal Career of America’s Greatest President

As our nation’s most beloved and recognizable president, Abraham Lincoln is best known for the Emancipation Proclamation and for guiding our country through the Civil War. But before he took the oath of office, Lincoln practiced law for nearly twenty-five years in the Illinois courts. Editors Roger Billings and Frank J. Williams, along with a notable list of contributors, examine Lincoln’s career as a general-practice attorney, looking both at his work in Illinois and at the time he spent in Washington. Each chapter offers an expansive look at Lincoln’s legal mind and covers diverse topics such as Lincoln’s legal writing, ethics, the Constitution, and international law. Abraham Lincoln, Esq. emphasizes this often overlooked period in Lincoln’s career and sheds light on Lincoln’s life before he became our sixteenth president.

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9780813109718With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union

William C. Harris maintains that Lincoln held a fundamentally conservative position on the process of reintegrating the South, one that permitted a large measure of self-reconstruction, and that he did not modify his position late in the war. In With Charity for All he examines the reasoning and ideology behind Lincoln’s policies, describes what happened when military and civil agents tried to implement them at the local level, and evaluates Lincoln’s successes and failures in bringing his restoration efforts to closure.

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9780813190624Lincoln on Lincoln

Though Abraham Lincoln has been the subject of numerous biographies, his personality remains an enigma. During his lifetime, Lincoln prepared two sketches of his life for the 1860 presidential race. These brief campaign portraits serve as the core around which Paul Zall weaves extracts from correspondence, speeches, and interviews to produce an in-depth biography. Lincoln on Lincoln shows a man struggling to reconcile personal ambition and civic virtue, conscience and Constitution, and ultimately the will of God and the will of the people. Zall frames Lincoln’s words with his own illuminating commentary, providing a continuous, compelling narrative. Beginning with Lincoln’s thoughts on his parents, the story moves though his youth and early successes and failures in law and politics, and culminates in his clashes and conflicts–internal as well as external–as president of a divided country. Through his writings, Lincoln said much more about himself than is commonly recognized, and Zall uses this material to create a unique portrait of this pivotal figure.

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To explore more titles about Lincoln and the American Civil War, visit our website.

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Happy Birthday and Congratulations to Dalton Trumbo and the ‘Trumbo’ Team

December 9, 1905, Dalton Trumbo was born in Grand Junction, Colorado. A reader and a writer from a young age, Trumbo would go on to an incredible career as a screenwriter, playwright, and author, until the House Un-American Activities Committee sought to bring him down for his involvement with the Communist Party.

Trump’s very public fight against HUAC as one of the Hollywood Ten is now the basis for the movie, Trumbo, which was nominated for 3 major Screen Actors Guild Awards this morning–more than any other film in the field. A very happy birthday present, indeed!

Congratulations to Jay Roach, Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, and the rest of the cast who labored so diligently to bring the life of one of Hollywood’s most infamous and influential radicals to the silver screen. You deserve a slice of birthday cake!

For more on Trumbo’s life, Dalton Trumbo is currently discounted during UPK’s Holiday Sale:

Dalton Trumbo

Today, We Remember

Memorial Day

As we take this Memorial Day to remember those who gave their lives to protect and defend our country, we wanted to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the holiday that takes the time to reflect upon and appreciate the contributions of our armed forces.

The History:

Today, Memorial Day honors all veterans, but the holiday was originally called Decoration Day, and was created in reverence to those who lost their lives in the Civil War. General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, a veteran’s group born out of the Cvil War, first declared the holiday in 1868, proclaiming:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or Memorial Day Propagandaotherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit. . . .

If other eyes grow dull, other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain to us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with the choicest flowers of spring-time; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from hishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon a nation’s gratitude, the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.

Memorial Day Propaganda5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery on the first Decoration Day in 1868. After World War I, Decoration Day was re-designated to honor the fallen American soldiers who died fighting in any U.S. wars. Memorial Day, as it came to be known, was only officially recognized as a national holiday in 1971, and is now observed on the last Monday of May each year.

The Traditions:

  • When raising the American flag on Memorial Day, it is to be raised quickly to full-mast, and then lowered slowly and solemnly to half-mast. At noon, the flag is to be raised to full staff for the remainder of the day. The half-staff position remembers the more than one million men and women who gave their lives in service of their country, and the full-staff position represents the raising of their memory, and a commitment to not to let their sacrifice be in vain.

American Flag Memorial Day A young boy holds a Poppy in Montreal, Wednesday, November 7, 2012.  THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes.

  • Many American’s think of the British people wearing red poppies on Armistice Day (November 11, which coincides with our American Veteran’s Day), but the memorial red poppy originated in the U.S. and are a traditional decoration for Memorial Day. Inspired by the famous World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael wrote a poem of her own:

We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

Moina was the first to wear a poppy in remembrance, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. A Frenchwoman traveling to the U.S., heard of the custom, and began selling artificial red poppies to raise money for war orphaned children and widowed women. The tradition soon spread to other European countries, and in 1922 the VFW became the first veterans’ organization to nationally sell poppies.

  • Many cities and towns across the U.S. hold Memorial Day parades. Ironton, Ohio, puts on the nation’s oldest continuously running Memorial Day parade. The first parade was held May 5, 1868, and the town has held it every year since.
  • In 2000, Congress passed the “National Moment of Remembrance Act,” for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or commemorating as they choose at 3 pm on Memorial Day.

As some families gather to remember a relative’s service, or others gather for Memorial Day parades, cookouts, or picnics, please take a moment today to remember those who lost their lives in service to all of us, and those who continue to sacrifice for our country every day.

“My Old Confederate Home” and the Pewee Valley Memorial Day

In 1902 Kentucky’s Confederate veterans organized and built the Kentucky Confederate Home in Pewee Valley, near Louisville for their unfortunate comrades. Some- due to lingering effects from war wounds, other disabilities, or the horrors of combat- were unable to care for themselves.

Next weekend, The Sons of Confederate Veterans, The Daughters of the Confederacy, the Pewee Valley Cemetery Board of Trustees, The Pewee Valley Historical Society, and The University Press of Kentucky invite you to THE ANNUAL KENTUCKY CONFEDERATE MEMORIAL DAY.

On Saturday, June 6 from 10 am – 6 pm The City of Pewee Valley will be hosting various events to commemorate Confederate veterans of Kentucky and the Kentucky Confederate Home. You can attend the General’s Luncheon, performances by the Dulcimer Society of Louisville, take a tour of the home, or meet Rusty Williams and have him sign a copy of My Old Confederate Home at various events throughout the day. For more information, click here.

Coming Soon:

“Teems with humanity. Williams has a storyteller’s gift for making historical characters come alive. This well-researched account of the establishment of a Confederate veterans’ home in a state, Kentucky, that did not even support the Confederacy is a dramatic story of a diverse range of people who responded to the needs of Civil War veterans. It offers a new angle on the South’s Lost Cause.” -Charles Reagan Wilson, author of

Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920

$34.95

For Kentuckians: read all about Rusty William’s project to document the stories behind Kentucky’s Confederate Home in the newest issue of Kentucky Humanities.

For all you non-Kentuckians: you can download the magazine here and scroll to page 23.

Rusty Williams also writes his own fabulous blog about the home. My Old Confederate Home, the blog, is a great place to get to know Rusty and some of the stories that you’ll find in the book- and a few you won’t!

Look for My Old Confederate Home coming

May 21!