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Lincoln's genius, Lincoln's suffering

Craig Symonds will discuss Lincoln's management of slavery on Oct. 27.

Lehigh will commemorate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birth with two public lectures that explore both his political and personal journeys.

"Commemorations of major anniversaries, such as Lincoln’s bicentennial, are important to remind us of our connections to the past and how history has shaped the present," says Roger Simon, professor of history and organizer of the first of the two events.

The first lecture, which starts at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, in the Perella Auditorium of the Rauch Business Center, will feature Craig Symonds, professor emeritus of American history at the U.S. Naval Academy. Symonds will deliver the 2009 Harmon Lecture, titled "Assessing Lincoln’s Political Genius."

Symonds will discuss the 16th president’s management of the slavery question. Some scholars cite his support of overseas colonization for former slaves to question his commitment to black freedom and equality. Symonds will examine whether Lincoln was a reluctant emancipator or a champion of equal rights.

Symonds, who retired from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005, is the author of 12 books, including prize-winning biographies of Joseph E. Johnston, Patrick Cleburne, and Franklin Buchanan, as well as The American Heritage History of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Symonds’ Decision at Sea: Five Naval Battles that Shaped American History won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Prize for Naval History. His most recent book, Lincoln and His Admirals: Abraham Lincoln, the U.S. Navy, and the Civil War, won the Barondess Prize, the Laney Prize and the Lyman Prize, and shared the 2009 Lincoln Prize with James McPherson’s Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief.

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Visiting Lectures Committee will host a talk titled "The Suffering of Abraham Lincoln: A Story of Mental Anguish and Depression on an Extraordinary Individual’s Journey to Wisdom."

The talk will be given by Joshua Wolf Shenk, author of Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness. Shenk is also an essayist and the director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at Packard Lab Auditorium. It is cosponsored by the Chaplain’s Office and Dialogue Center; the Counseling Center; the American Studies program; the history, psychology and religion studies departments; the counseling psychology program; and the Health, Medicine and Society Program.

 

Story by Tricia Long

Posted on Tuesday, October 27, 2009

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