2021 Symposium Events

We are pleased to announce details of the 2021 Benjamin P. Thomas Symposium Banquet, which will all take place virtually on February 12, 2021 (Friday) and February 13, 2021 (Saturday). You may access all of the streaming content for free here on this page, on the ALA’s Facebook page, and on the ALA’s YouTube channel

Although we will miss seeing you in Springfield, we trust that by 2022 we will be holding both of these events in person in Lincoln’s hometown and reuniting with you then.

February 12 (Friday)

10:00 a.m. CT

Opening of Center for Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois- Springfield, followed by a welcome by Dr. Michael Burlingame.

11:00 a.m. CT

Symposium Speaker – Elizabeth Mitchell. Elizabeth Mitchell’s newest book, Lincoln’s Lie: A True Civil War Caper Through Fake News, Wall Street, and the White House, was published in October 2020. Her other books include Liberty’s Torch: The Great Adventure to Build the Statue of Liberty, Three Strides Before the Wire: The Dark and Beautiful World of Horse Racing, and W.: Revenge of the Bush Dynasty. Her bestselling e-single, The Fearless Mrs. Goodwin, tells the tale of the first female detective in U.S. history. Mitchell was executive editor of George magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Symposium Speaker – H. W. Brands Jr. H. W. Brands is an American historian who holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1985. He has authored 30 books on U.S. history, two of which have been selected as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book is John Brown and Abraham Lincoln. Born in 1953, Brands grew up in the Portland, Oregon area. He attended Jesuit High School, where he was a three-sport athlete and National Merit Scholar. Brands received his undergraduate degree in history from Stanford University in 1975, returning to Jesuit to teach mathematics. He taught at the high school for the next five years and earned a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Reed College in 1978, followed by an M.S. in Mathematics from Portland State in 1981. His dissertation was on the Eisenhower administration and its foreign policy during the Cold War.

7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. CT

Michael Burlingame, ALA President, will introduce banquet speaker Rich Lowry, author of Lincoln’s Nationalism. Rich serves as editor of The National Review, columnist for Politico and  guest commentator on NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week, and Fox News Sunday. He is author of Lincoln Unbound: How an Ambitious Young Railsplitter Saved the American Dream and most recently The Case for Nationalism: How It Made Us Powerful, United, and Free.

February 13 (Saturday)

10:00 a.m. CT

Symposium Speaker – Edward Achorn, author of Every Drop of Blood: The Momentous Second Inauguration of Abraham Lincoln (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2020), as well as earlier books on baseball history. He is the former vice president and editorial page editor of The Providence (R.I.) Journal. He has won numerous writing awards and his work appears in Best Newspaper Writing, 2007-2008. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for commentary and winner of the Yankee Quill Award, he is the author of two acclaimed books about nineteenth-century baseball and American culture, Fifty-nine in ’84 and The Summer of Beer and Whiskey. He lives in an 1840s farmhouse in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.


Symposium Speaker – David S. Reynolds, author of Abe: Abraham Lincoln in His Times, is a Distinguished Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He is the author of Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography, winner of the Bancroft Prize and the Ambassador Book Award. His other books include Beneath the American Renaissance (winner of the Christian Gauss Award); John Brown, Abolitionist; Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson; Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America; and Lincoln’s Selected Writings. He is a regular book reviewer for The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, and The Wall Street Journal.

1:00 p.m. CT

Roundtable – all four symposium speakers return – Michael Burlingame moderator – LIVE