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Lincoln's America

Lincoln's America

1809 - 1865

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Edited by Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard


Hardcover (Other formats: E-book)
256 pages, 6 x 9, 13 illustrations


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About the Book

To fully understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln’s legacy, it is important to examine the society that influenced the life, character, and leadership of the man who would become the Great Emancipator. Editors Joseph R. Fornieri and Sara Vaughn Gabbard have done just that in Lincoln’s America: 1809–1865, a collection of original essays by ten eminent historians that place Lincoln within his nineteenth-century cultural context.

Among the topics explored in Lincoln’s America are religion, education, middle-class family life, the antislavery movement, politics, and law. Of particular interest are the transition of American intellectual and philosophical thought from the Enlightenment to Romanticism and the influence of this evolution on Lincoln's own ideas.

By examining aspects of Lincoln’s life—his personal piety in comparison with the beliefs of his contemporaries, his success in self-schooling when frontier youths had limited opportunities for a formal education, his marriage and home life in Springfield, and his legal career—in light of broader cultural contexts such as the development of democracy, the growth of visual arts, the question of slaves as property, and French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville’s observations on America, the contributors delve into the mythical Lincoln of folklore and discover a developing political mind and a changing nation.

As Lincoln’s America shows, the sociopolitical culture of nineteenth-century America was instrumental in shaping Lincoln’s character and leadership. The essays in this volume paint a vivid picture of a young nation and its sixteenth president, arguably its greatest leader.


Joseph R. Fornieri is a professor of political science at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the director of the Center for Statesmanship, Law, and Liberty. He is the author or editor of five books, the most recent of which is Abraham Lincoln, Philosopher Statesman (SIU Press), which won a prize for superior scholarship from the Illinois State Historical Society.

Sara Vaughn Gabbard is the executive director of the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana and editor of Lincoln Lore. She is a coeditor of three books, including 1865: America Makes War and Peace in Lincoln’s Final Year, and received the Order of Lincoln Award from the governor of Illinois in 2015.


"Each of the ten essays in Lincoln's America is the work of an acknowledged authority on Abraham Lincoln, and each has something new and enlightening to tell us about the most celebrated American." —Douglas L. Wilson, author of Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words