The First Slave Freed by Abraham Lincoln: A Biographical Sketch of Nance Legins (Cox-Cromwell) Costley, circa 1813 1873

October 8, 2018

by Carl M. Adams A “Negro girle named Nance” first attracted nationwide attention in 1866, about eighteen months after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Chapter three of Illinois Republican Congressman Isaac Newton Arnold’s book, The History of Abraham Lincoln and the Overthrow of Slavery (1866), is subtitled: “Pleads the Case of the Negro Girl ‘Nance.’” Subsequent Lincoln biographers believe that Arnold acquired information of this case from William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s abolitionist junior law partner. The biographers who wrote of Nance (pronounced Nancy) each restated the basic fact that Nance obtained her liberty from servitude during the proceedings of Lincoln’s first Illinois Supreme Court session in the 1841 case of Bailey v. Cromwell. Read The Full Newsletter Below  

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Beware the Ides of March

October 8, 2018

In Shakespeare’s play, “Julius Caesar,” a soothsayer warns Caesar of impending treachery declaring, “Beware the Ides of March.” Lincoln’s assassination by the treacherous hands of John Wilkes Booth was proceeded by similar warnings. The warnings were so numerous throughout his entire presidency that, to modern observers, it is easy to dismiss them as idle threats. Moreover, several recent studies argue that Lincoln did not take the death threats very seriously and that his personal secretaries did not show him the offending letters, even destroying them upon receipt. Read The Full Newsletter Below (Please allow a few minutes to load the file)

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It Is Begun! Mclean County Reacts to Ft. Sumter and Prepares for Civil War

October 8, 2018

By Robert C. Bray R. Forest Colwell Professor of American Literature, Illinois Wesleyan University Within hours of learning, via telegraph, of the April 12, 1861, Confederate attack on Ft. Sumter, citizens of McLean County began planning for civil war. Some with a reluctance built of a deep understanding of what internecine conflict could do to a nation, but many more, perhaps most, with a sense that it was high time that a recalcitrant and now “rebel” South got punished. As the editor of the Daily Pantagraph exulted, “War is upon us at last!” What had been a protracted political and sectional dispute during the 1850s was suddenly a matter of southern treason, and no “Northern man will dare to stand up in our midst,” the April 13th editorial continued, “to palliate the hell-born treason of the Secessionists!” (DP 13 April 1861) In the weeks to come, more than one county citizen would find to his chagrin that the only really free speech left to him was to shout out in favor of the Union. Read The Full Newsletter Below (Please allow a few minutes to load the file)

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The Bixby Letter

September 20, 2018

By Michael Burlingame Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, University of Illinois Springfield and a Director of The Abraham Lincoln Association In 1995, the Journal of The Abraham Lincoln Association (JALA) ran an article, “New Light on the Bixby Letter,” which argued that Lincoln’s much admired condolence letter was actually composed by John Hay. Earlier authors had noted that Hay told some people (among them the British statesman John Morley and the American journalists William Crary Brownell and Walter Hines Page) that he had written the document but did not want his authorship revealed until after he died. Moreover, people close to Hay (among them his secretary Spencer Eddy and the journalist Louis Coolidge) testified that he had written it, though they did not claim that Hay himself had told them so. Read The Full Newsletter Below (Please allow a few minutes to load the file)

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Richard Carwardine – 2018 Annual Banquet Speaker

September 20, 2018

As an undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in the 1960s, Richard Carwardine took his BA in Modern History. After graduation, he took up the Ochs- Oakes Graduate Scholarship in American History at The Queen’s College, Oxford; he spent a year at the University of California, Berkeley, during an era of campus convulsions (1969-70).

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Abraham Lincoln, John Hay, and the Bixby Letter

November 15, 2016

Abraham Lincoln, John Hay, and the Bixby Letter by Michael Burlingame Most moviegoers are aware that Abraham Lincoln’s letter of condolence to Lydia Bixby, a widow who purportedly had lost five sons in the Civil War, looms large in Stephen Spielberg’s recent film, Saving Private Ryan. Dated November 21, 1864, the letter reads as follows: “I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the alter of Freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, A. Lincoln. Read The Full Newsletter Below (Please allow a few minutes to load the file)

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