Past Programs

  • Past Book Discussions
  • Past Annual Lincoln Dinner Speakers
  • Past Fall Lincoln Lectures

Past Book Discussions

January 23, 2024 – The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention that Changed History by Edward Achorn (Grove Atlantic, 2023).

Harold Holzer Lincoln Forum Book Award and Lincoln Institute Book Award winner Edward Achorn presents a richly detailed micro-history of the raucous 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago that produced underdog candidate Abraham Lincoln as his party’s presidential nominee.

October 17, 2023 – And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle, by Jon Meacham (PenguinRandom House, 2022).

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and New York Times best-selling author Jon Meacham chronicles the life and moral evolution of Abraham Lincoln.

January 17, 2023 – Ways and Means: Lincoln and His Cabinet and the Financing of the Civil War, by Roger Lowenstein (Penguin Press, 2022).

American financial journalist and author Roger Lowenstein, guest speaker at our 2023 Lincoln Dinner, joined our virtual book discussion in January. Lowenstein is the recipient of the 2022 Howard Holzer Lincoln Forum Book Prize for Ways and Means.

October 25, 2022 – Lincoln at Gettysburg: the Words that Remade America, by Gary Wills (Simon & Schuster, 1992).
This winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction (1993) is a perennial favorite for exploration of a speech that was said to “redefine the Constitution in light of the Declaration of Independence.” (Patrick T. Reardon)

July 19, 2022 – An American Marriage: the Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd, by Michael Burlingame (Simon and Schuster, 2021).
Lincoln scholar Burlingame is a past dinner speaker at the Lincoln Club of Delaware.

April 11, 2022 – 1861: The Civil War Awakening, by Adam Goodheart (Knopf/Vintage, 2011).
Our Spring 2022 selection was the bestselling history of the first year of the Civil War by Washington College Professor Adam Goodheart, our invited speaker for the annual Lincoln Dinner held on May 3, 2022.

June 14, 2021 – Lincoln’s Mentors: The Education of a Leader, by Micahel Gerhardt (Harper Collins, 2021).
Gerhardt’s critically acclaimed study looks at Lincoln’s lessons from influencers around him who shaped his leadership style.

Past Lincoln Dinner Speakers

2024 – Edward Achorn, former journalist and historian described “Abraham Lincoln, the Candidate Nobody Expected,” the subject of his award-winning The Lincoln Miracle: the Republican Convention that Changed History.

2023 – Roger Lowenstein, American financial journalist spoke about his recent book, Ways and Means: How Lincoln and his Cabinet Financed the Civil War, winner of the 2022 Harold Holzer Lincoln Forum Book Prize.

2022 – Adam Goodheart, Washington College professor, historian, essayist, and author of the best-selling history, 1861: The Civil War Awakening (Knopf, Viking).

2021 – Dinner postponed due to COVID-19.

2020 – David W. Blight, Sterling Professor of History, Yale University; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition; author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Pulitzer Prize History 2019).

2019 – Jonathan W. White, associate professor of American Studies, Christopher Newport University; author of Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War: The Trials of John Merryman (2011) and Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln (2014). Board or advisory member of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Lincoln Forum, and the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History (University of Virginia), Ford’s Theatre, and the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.

2018 – John Stauffer, Harvard University professor of English and American Literature, American Studies and African American Studies; author of Giants: The Parallel Lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln (2008), and The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On (2013).

2017 – John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law, Yale Law School, author of Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Bancroft Prize 2013).

2016 – John Skilton, leading litigation lawyer, Madison, Wisconsin; course lecturer on “Lincoln the Litigator,” University of Wisconsin Law School; chair of the Wisconsin Lincoln Bicentennial Commission; “Abraham Lincoln: A Lawyer ‘For the Ages’.”

2015 – John David Smith, Charles H. Stone Distinguished Professor of American History, University of North Carolina, Charlotte; author of Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era (2002) and Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops (2013).

2014 – Matthew Pinsker, Brian Pohanka Chair of Civil War History, Dickinson College, author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home (2003).

2013 – Michael Burlingame, Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, University of Illinois, Springfield; author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life (2008) and The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln (1994).

2012 – James L. Swanson, Senior Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.; author of Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (Edgar Award, 2007) and sequel Bloody Crimes: The Funeral for Abraham Lincoln and the Chase for Jefferson Davis (2010).

2011 – James Oaks, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York; author of The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (Lincoln Prize 2008).

2010 – Douglas L. Wilson, George A. Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of English and Co-director of the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois; author of Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words (Lincoln Prize 2007).

2009 – Honorable Frank Williams, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Rhode Island. Dr. Harold Holzer, Senior Vice President, External Affairs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2008 – James L. Swanson, Senior Fellow, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.; author of Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution (2001) and Manhunt: The 12-day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer (Edgar Award, 2007).

2007 – James M. McPherson, Geoge Henry Davis ’86 Professor Emeritus of American History, Princeton University.

2006 – Honorable Frank J. Williams, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Rhode Island, “Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties in Wartime.”

2005 – Nelson D. Lankford, editor of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, “Lincoln in Richmond.”

2004 – Lucas E. Morel, Assistant Professor of Politics, Washington and Lee University, “An Analysis of Frederick Douglass’s speech of April 14, 1876, and Douglass’s views on Lincoln.”

2003 – William Lee Miller, Scholar in Ethnics and Institutions, Miller Center, University of Virginia, “A Magnanimous President Chooses a Secretary of War.”

2002 – Alan C. Guelzo, Dean of the Templeton Honors College and Grace F. Kea Professor of American History, Eastern College, “Perspectives on Lincoln’s Attitudes and Views on Race Relations in America.”

2001 – John C. Waugh, journalist and author of Reelecting Lincoln (1998), “Reelecting Lincoln in 1864.”

2000 – Grant Romer, head of the Photograph Conservation Department, George Eastman House, “Lincoln Likeness and Dislikeness: Validating Photographic Portraits.”

1999 – Jean H. Baker, Professor of History, Goucher College in Baltimore, “Parallel Lives: The Marriage of Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln.”

1998 – James I. Robertson, Jr., Alumni Distinguished Professor in History, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, “Abraham Lincoln and Stonewall Jackson, Two Amazingly Similar Lives.”

1997 – David E. Long, Assistant Professor of History, East Carolina University, “I Shall Never Recall a Word: Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.”

1996 – Stephen B. Oates, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; author of With Malice Towards None (1977), “Lincoln’s Vision: The Central Idea of the Civil War.”

1995 – Merrill D. Peterson, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Virginia, “Lincoln and Jefferson.”

1994 – James W. Symington, Esquire, great grandson of John Hay, private secretary to President Lincoln, “A Hayride with Abraham Lincoln.”

1993 – Calvin Skaggs, film producer and director, “Seeing Lincoln Human Again.”

1992 – Honorable Paul Simon, U. S. Senator from Illinois, newspaper editor and publisher, “Lincoln as a Legislator and his Legislative career in Illinois.”

1991 – Harold Holzer, news reporter and writer, speech-writer, political advisor, authority on Lincoln portraits and prints, “Two Views of Abraham Lincoln.”

1990 – John A. Munroe, H. Rodney Sharp Professor Emeritus of History, University of Delaware, “Lincoln’s Opponents.”

1989 – Frank J. Williams, M.A.J.D., Lincoln collector, “Abraham Lincoln – Deeds and Misdeeds, or Mistakes of a Mortal.”

1988 – John K. Lattimer, M.D., Sc.D., Professor, Department of Urology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, “A Comparison of the Lincoln and Kennedy Assassinations.”

1987 – William F. Stapp, photographic historian, Department of Photographs, National Portrait Gallery.

1986 – Richard Nelson Current, Distinguished Professor of American History, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, “Abraham Lincoln and Fiction As History.”

1985 – Richard Venezky, Professor of History, University of Delaware, “Lincoln and His Oratorical and Rhetorical Style.”

1984 – James Munroe McPherson, Professor of American History, Princeton University, “Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution.”

1983 – John Hope Franklin, Duke University, “Lincoln’s Evolving View of Freedom.”

1982 – John Lloyd, insurance consultancy Lloyd and Co., author of Vignettes of Lincoln (1974) and Snowbound with Mr. Lincoln (1979), “Mr. Lincoln Defines America.”

1981 – Harry Repman, M.D., practicing urologist, Wilmington, “Mr. Lincoln’s Health.”

1980 – Dr. Mark E. Neely, Jr., Director, Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum, Fort Wayne, Indiana; editor of Lincoln Lore, “Who Voted for Abraham Lincoln?”

1979 – William Hanchett, Professor of History, San Diego State University, “Stanton and Lincoln’s assassination: The Eisenschiml Thesis.”

1978 – Harold Holzer, news reporter, editor, speech-writer, political advisor, and authority on Lincoln portraits and prints, “Lincoln as the Print Artists Saw Him.”

1977 – E. Elton Trueblood, eighth-generation Quaker, Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College, “Abraham Lincoln: Theologian of American Anguish.”

1976 – William B. Catton, Professor of History, Middlebury College, “Lincoln and the Declaration of Independence.”

1975 – Honorable Fred Schwengel, eight-term Congressman from Iowa and president, United States Capitol Historical Society, “Lincoln the Fiery Moderate.”

1974 – Bell L. Wiley, Professor of History, Emory University, military historian of the Civil, “A Southerner Looks at Lincoln.”

1973 – Dr. Richard D. Mudd, grandson of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, “Circumstances of the dream of Lincoln, the public attitude which erupted from the assassination, and the conspiracy trial.”

1972 – Honorable Mark O. Hatfield, U. S. Senator from Oregon and collector of Lincolniana, “Lincoln, the Scholar.”

1971 – Dwight L. Dumond, Professor of History, University of Michigan, “Abraham Lincoln.”

1970 – Burton R. Laub, Dean of Dickinson School of Law, “Will the Real Abraham Lincoln Please Stand Up?”

1969 – William A. Coblenz, President of the Lincoln Group, District of Columbia, “Abraham Lincoln and His influence on Our Time over the World.”

1968 – Honorable C. Douglass Buck, Jr., and the Lyceum Players, excerpts from The Rivalry by Norman Corwin, directed and produced by Victor Clarke.

1967 – Edwin D. Coddington, Professor of History, Lafayette College, “Lincoln’s Role in the Gettysburg Campaign” (read in absentia by Dr. Jacob S. Cooks, Lafayette College).

1966 – Robert L. Bloon, Adeline Sager Professor of History, Gettysburg College, and President, Pennsylvania Historical Association, “The British Press and the American Civil War.”

1965 – Walter F. Berns, Jr., Department of Government, Cornell University, “Lincoln’s American Poetry.”

1964 – Dr. Marshall W. Fishwick, Director, American History Studies and Research, Wemyss Foundation, “Lincoln and the American Spirit.”

1963 – Frederick B. Tolles, Howard M. Jenkins Professor of Quaker History and Research, Swarthmore College, “Lincoln and the Quakers.”

1962 – Rabbi Herbert E. Drooz, Temple Beth Emeth, Wilmington, “Lincoln’s Better Angels.”

1961 – David Donald, Professor of History, Princeton University, “Abraham Lincoln and the Mastery of Men.”

1960 – William B. Catton, Department of History, Princeton University; son of historian Bruce Catton, “Lincoln and the Meaning of the War.”

1959 – John A. Munroe, Professor of History, University of Delaware, “Abraham Lincoln, Member of Congress from Illinois.”

1958 – The Reverend John W. Christie, Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, “Another Look at Lincoln in Delaware.”

1957 – Showing of two motion pictures: Moonlight Witness, a dramatization of Lincoln as a trial lawyer, and the documentary The Face of Lincoln (1955).

1956 – Richard F. Lufkin, Boston-based engineer and Lincoln scholar, “Lincoln’s 1860 New England Merry-Go-Round, or Within Reach of the Brass Ring of the Nomination.”

1955 – Dr. Louis A. Warren, Director, Lincoln National Life Foundation of Fort Wayne, Indiana, “The Freedom Emphasis in the Gettysburg Address.”

1954 – Dr. Otto Eisenschiml, Chicago chemist and author of Why Was Lincoln Murdered? (1937), “Adventures in Lincoln Research.”

1953 – Harry E. Pratt, State Historian, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, “Lincoln’s Finances.”

1952 – Dr. John H. Sachs, DuPont chemist and Club member, “Lincoln Learns from History.”

1951 – Dr. Robert L. Kincaid, President, Lincoln Memorial University, “Lincoln’s Faith, The Hope of our Times.”

1950 – Film showing of 1940 adaptation of Robert Sherwood’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois, featuring Raymond Massey, Gene Lockhart, and Ruth Gordon.

1949 – Jeter A. Isely, Professor of History, Princeton University, “Lincoln and the Press.”

1948 – The Reverend John G. Mac Kinnon, Pastor, First Unitarian Church of Wilmington, “The Timelessness of Lincoln.”

1947 – The Reverend John W. Christie, Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, “Lincoln and Delaware.”

1946 – Jay Monaghan, State Historian, Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield; Lincoln bibliographer and author of Diplomat in Carpet Slippers (1945), “Anecdotes about Lincoln’s Foreign Policy.”

1945 – J. Duncan Spaeth, Professor of English Literature, Princeton University, “The Heritage of Abraham Lincoln.”

1944 – Dr. Stewart McClelland, President, Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate, Tennessee.

1943 – Dr. John H. Sachs, chemist, E. I. duPont de Nemours and Company.

1942 – Speakers: Otho Nowland, Dr. C. L. Candee, Robert Wheelwright, Stanley M. Arthurs, and Frank E. Schoonover; followed by showing of Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940) with Raymond Massey in the title role.

1941 – Honorable Bruce Barton, former Congressman of New York. Additional brief address by guest Raymond Massey, star of DuPont-sponsored Cavalcade of America Lincoln broadcasts.

1940 – Paul N. Angle, editor of The Abraham Lincoln Quarterly and Librarian, Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield.

1939 – Mrs. Honoré Willie Morrow, author of trilogy of novels Great Captain (1927-1930), February dinner speaker.

1939 – Dr. Louis A. Warren, Director, Lincoln National Life Foundation, special April luncheon meeting.

1938 – Dr. Dixon Ryan Fox, President, Union College. Frank G. Tallman’s Collection of Lincolniana was exhibited.

1937 – Robert Fortenbaugh, Professor of History, Gettysburg College, principal speaker. J. Edgar Rhodes of Wilmington read a paper found among his father’s effects telling of an interview with Lincoln.

1936 – Speakers: Arthur E. Bailey, Librarian, Wilmington Institute Free Library; Dr. S. M. Stouffer, Superintendent, Wilmington Public Schools; Dr. Burton P. Fowler, Headmaster, Tower Hill School; Dr. George H. Ryden, University of Delaware; Otho Nowland and Dr. M. A. Tarumianz.

1935 – Emanuel Hertz, New York lawyer, historian, and collector of Lincolniana, “The Story of a Watch That Figured in the Early Life of Lincoln, obtained from a Baltimore dealer in antiques.” Brief address by Colonel George A. Elliott, President, Historical Society of Delaware.

1934 – Roy Nichols, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania, “The Debunkers of Lincoln.”

1933 – Willis O. Stoddard, Jr., son of the newspaper editor who first editorialized a plan for the Lincoln’s presidential nomination and who later became Lincoln’s private secretary. The Club also heard President Herbert Hoover’s Lincoln Day radio address.

1932 – Frank G. Tallman, Club member and collector of Lincolniana, Wilmington.

1931 Honorable Thomas F. Bayard, Former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator, and State Senator George McIntire.

1930 – Ruby R. Vale, Philadelphia lawyer and legal scholar, resident of Milford, Delaware.

1929 – William H. Lingelbach, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania. “The Biographies of Lincoln,” U. S. Representative Robert G. Houston of Georgetown, Delaware. Professor George McIntire, educator, New Castle, Delaware, recited Walt Whitman’s “Captain, My Captain.” John Bancroft, manufacturer, Wilmington, related a story of seeing Lincoln as a boy in Cincinnati, during a street parade in Lincoln’s honor as he was about to leave for his first inauguration in Washington.

Past Fall Event Speakers

2023 November 19 – The 2023 Fall Program marked the 160th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, which endures as one of President Lincoln’s most important speeches. Wilmington attorney Martin Lessner spoke about the importance of this iconic American address.  A PDF of “Lessner-Gettysburg-Address-2023-11-19” is available for reading or the presentation may be viewed on Youtube. (Note: This presentation may not be reproduced without permission of the author.) Historian W. Barksdale Maynard provided a Delaware connection to Gettysburg as he described the design of the 2000 Delaware state memorial monument at the historic battlefield.

2022 November 20 – Todd Harra, Delaware mortician and author of fiction and non-fiction books related to American funerary traditions, including Last Rites: the Evolution of the American Funeral. He spoke about the dual importance of scientific advances in caring for the Civil War dead and the precedence of Lincoln’s funeral procession in the history of American post-mortem practices and traditions of mourning. His presentation was recorded by C-Span2 American History TV and made available for viewing December 24, 2022.

2021 November 21 – The Hon. Henry duPont Ridgely, retired Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, past president of the Lincoln Club of Delaware, chair of the Delaware Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (2009) on “Delaware and Mr. Lincoln.” (Note: This presentation may not be reproduced without permission of the author.)

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