For a Vast Future Also: Essays from the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association

By Thomas F. Schwartz | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The following selection of articles comes from presentations made before the Abraham Lincoln Association over the past twenty-five years. Since 1908, the Association has provided a forum for discussion on Abraham Lincoln and his presidency. Believing that these examinations of Lincoln would benefit a larger public allthence and support an informed citizenry, the Association began a serious research and publications program in 1924 that continued until 1953. That year, the Association liquidated its total assets to see through to publication all eight volumes of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (with the addition in 1955 of a ninth volume, the Index). This remains the definitive compilation of all Lincoln writings and speeches known at that time. other materials came to light subsequendy, and two Supplement volumes were published, in 1974 and 1990.

The Association maintained its charter of incorporation throughout the period 1953–59 even though it never formally met. It reactivated in 1959 at the request of Illinois Governor Otto Kerner to raise money for the restoration of the Old State Capitol, site of Lincoln’s famous House Divided Address and where his body lay in state for 75,000 citizens to pay respects before Lincoln’s interment at Oak Ridge Cemetery. Meeting the challenge, the Association raised nearly $300,000 for the purchase of period furnishings and artifacts that now comprise the collections at the Old State Capitol.

In 1973, the Association turned its attention back to research and publications. A scholarly symposium became an annual offering, centered around a theme relating to some contested aspect of Lincoln’s life or presidency. Also, the Association sponsored an annual banquet featuring leading politicians, cultural critics, historians, authors, and what would now be termed “celebrities.” The banquet speakers were not obligated to talk about the sixteenth president, but most did in profound and moving ways.

Beginning in 1973, the Association published the banquet ad-

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