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Did Lincoln Own Slaves?: And Other Frequently Asked Questions about Abraham Lincoln (Vintage Civil War Library)by Gerald Prokopowicz
Synopses & Reviews
In the bicentennial year of Lincoln's birth, here is the one indispensable book that provides all you need to know about our most revered president in a lively and memorable question-and-answer format.You will learn whether Lincoln could dunk a basketball or tell a joke. Was he the great emancipator or a racist? If he were alive today, could he get elected? Did he die rich? Did scientists raise Lincoln from the dead? From the seemingly lighthearted to the most serious Gerald Prokopowicz tackles each question with balance and authority, and weaves a complete, satisfying biography that will engage young and old, scholars and armchair historians alike.
About the Author
Gerald J. Prokopowicz served for nine years as the Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, where he studied under Lincoln biographer David Herbert Donald. He is the author of the critically acclaimed All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio 1861-1862 . He has written numerous articles and book reviews for popular magazines and professional historical journals, and was the editor of Lincoln Lore, the quarterly bulletin of the Lincoln Museum. He is a frequent public speaker on Lincoln-related topics and a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Board of Advisors. He is currently chair of the history department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
CHAPTER ONE: THE BOY LINCOLN
When and where was Lincoln born?
Is the cabin still there?
Havent I seen the cabin somewhere else?
About the original birthplace cabin-is it true that Lincoln helped his father build it with his own hands?
Who were Lincolns parents?
Were Thomas and Nancy married to each other when Abraham was born?
His mother was born out of wedlock?
Was Abrahams last name really Lincoln?
No, I mean,was Thomas Lincoln really his father?
So Lincolns greatness was due to his environment, not his genes?
Where did Lincolns ancestors come from?
Was Lincolns father a good-for-nothing bum?
Why did Thomas and Nancy choose the name Abraham?
What was Lincolns middle name?
Did he have any brothers or sisters?
Lincoln once said “All I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Did he mean his natural mother or his stepmother?
Lincoln didnt go to his own fathers funeral?
Did Lincoln have a happy childhood?
If Lincoln was born in Kentucky, why do Illinois license plates say “Land of Lincoln”?
Did they really spend their first winter in Indiana living outdoors?
Why did the Lincolns move to Indiana?
What did slavery have to do with their move?
What did Abe do in Indiana?
How did his mother die?
Can people still get milk sickness?
Did Abraham show any signs of future greatness when he was a boy?
Did he hunt smaller animals?
How else was Abe different from other children?
Is it true that Lincoln was nearly killed when he was a boy?
Did this really happen three times?
Whats a paw paw?
How much schooling did he have?
Did he write his school lessons on the back of a shovel, using a piece of charcoal?
Who taught him?
Whats a “blab school”?
Did Lincoln ever go to college?
If his education was so limited, how did he get so smart?
Did he once accidentally ruin a book that he borrowed?
CHAPTER TWO: RAIL-SPLITTER
Whats a rail-splitter?
So Lincoln didnt really split rails for a living. What did he do, before he became a lawyer and politician?
Was this the trip when Lincoln saw slave markets in New Orleans and decided he would dedicate himself to ending slavery?
What about his other jobs? Wasnt he a storekeeper?
Did he really once walk two miles to return change to a customer?
What else did he do for a living?
If his partner drank up the stores stock, are you saying that Lincoln kept a saloon?
When he got a job as a postmaster, did he really carry letters around in his hat?
What did Lincoln think about this? What was his religion?
Wasnt he secretly baptized when he was older?
If Lincoln wasnt a Christian, why are his speeches full of talk about God?
This religious conversion he went through-didnt this happen at Gettysburg?
What did Lincoln do for fun as a young man? Did he play sports?
Could he dunk a basketball?
So, what sports did he play?
What else did he do for fun? Did he drink a lot when he was young?
Did he smoke or chew tobacco?
Did he gamble?
Did he swear or tell dirty jokes?
Was he lazy?
So did Lincoln have any bad habits?
How about good manners?
He probably didnt need much in the way of manners for his first girlfriend, Ann Rutledge, did he?
Did he leave New Salem because of Ann Rutledge?
CHAPTER THREE: SPRINGFIELD
Why did he move to Springfield?
When a guy says to another guy, “Its a good place to meet people,” he usually means “Its a good place to meet girls.” Is that what really brought Lincoln to Springfield?
If he didnt do so well with the ladies, is it possible-I mean, I once heard a story that he used to visit, you know, working girls . . . ?
Was Lincoln gay?
Why does anyone care?
What was it in his youth that made him great?
Lincoln never was much of a lawyer,was he?
Where did he go to law school?
How did Lincoln do on his bar exam?
What kind of law did he practice?
Runaway slaves? I assume he was helping them to get free . . .or did Lincoln represent slaveowners?
Whats his most famous case?
What was his most important case?
Did he make a lot of money as a lawyer?
Is it true that the real reason he spent so much time at the office and “riding the circuit”was to get away from Mary?
About Mary Todd Lincoln: Was she crazy?
How did Abe and Mary meet?
What did she see in him?
Who broke the engagement?
How did Abe and Mary get back together?
Lincoln fought a duel?
What did Lincoln write in those letters that was so bad it made Shields want to kill him?
Was Mary pregnant when she married him?
CHAPTER FOUR: POLITICIAN
Its amazing how Lincoln failed at everything he tried but kept on trying, until one day he was elected president. I read about this in “Dear Abby.”How did he do it?
So he considered himself a failure before he became president?
Is that why he went into politics in the first place? For attention and fame?
Wasnt Mary Lincoln the real source of Lincolns ambition?
What did Lincoln do in the Illinois legislature, if he was so ambitious?
Didnt he once jump out of a window or a trap door or something when he was a legislator?
Wait a minute-Ive been to the Old State Capitol in Springfield, and the House chamber windows are at least twenty feet from the ground. How could he have survived that fall?
When did he become a Republican?
Was he the founder of the Republican Party?
What happened to the Whigs?
If he were alive today, what party would Lincoln belong to?
If Lincoln were running for office today, could he get elected?
CHAPTER FIVE: SPEAKER
Are there any recordings of Lincolns voice?
If they didnt have sound equipment, like microphones, how were big audiences able to hear Lincolns speeches?
Was Lincoln a good public speaker?
How did he learn to speak so well?
Did he write his own speeches?
Didnt Lincoln once make a speech that was so good nobody wrote it down?
In which speech did he say, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you cant fool all of the people all the time”?
Are there other famous things that Lincoln didnt really say?
Was Lincoln a good extemporaneous speaker?
What about his farewell to Springfield?
Did he ever make bad speeches?
What was his greatest speech?
Isnt it too bad we dont have politicians today who can debate issues like Lincoln and Douglas did?
You seem to be saying the debates contained nothing new. What about the “Freeport interrogatories”?
Why would he have settled for just the Senate? Didnt he always want to be president?
CHAPTER SIX: PRESIDENT
How old was Lincoln when he became president?
If Lincolns whole political experience was in the Illinois state legislature, plus one term in Congress, how did he ever get elected president?
How did he win the election?
Did he make a whistle-stop campaign?
Is it true that Stephen Douglas held Lincolns hat during the inaugural ceremony?
What about his cabinet? Did Lincoln really fill it with his rivals?
Did the rest of the cabinet support Lincoln?
Whats a chin-fly?
So did Chase ever come to acknowledge Lincolns superiority the way Seward did? 108
Who was Lincolns vice president?
But Andrew Johnson became president after Lincoln was killed.Why the change? 109
Why did Lincoln start the Civil War?
Did Lincolns presidential actions violate the Constitution?
Still, arresting 13,535 political prisoners is outrageous, isnt it?
What happened to those who did get arrested for opposing the war?
Is it true that Lincoln had an arrest warrant made out for
the chief justice of the United States?
Was Lincoln responsible for the income tax?
Did Lincoln make Thanksgiving a national holiday?
Did Mary remodel the White House without telling him?
Did Lincoln appear before a Congressional committee to defend his wifes loyalty to the Union?
Did the Lincolns have a secret summer home?
What was a typical day like for President Lincoln?
How big was his White House staff ?
How much mail did he get?
Did Lincoln answer his own mail?
Why didnt Lincoln sign every letter himself ?
Did one of his secretaries write the Bixby letter?
What was the “Blind Memorandum” that Lincoln wrote?
What did it say?
Why not just postpone the election?
CHAPTER SEVEN: COMMANDER IN CHIEF
Before Lincoln became commander in chief, did he have any military experience?
Were Lincoln and his men sworn into service by Jefferson Davis?
Did he teach himself military strategy when he became president?
Was Lincoln a military genius?
You said Lincoln “eventually” found the right commanders-why did it take so long?
So why did he put up with McClellan?
How did he finally get rid of McClellan?
Did McClellan and Lincoln know each other before the war?
How about Confederate General George Pickett, of Picketts Charge fame-wasnt he an old friend of Lincoln?
Didnt he once ask General McClellan if he could borrow the army, since McClellan was not using it?
Was he serious?
Why not? Didnt he understand military strategy at least as well as people like McClellan?
Did he ever see a battle?
For real? Lincoln was involved in a dangerous military operation?
Did Lincoln hire a substitute to fight for him?
Didnt one of his generals plan to replace him and take over the government as a dictator?
Didnt Lincoln offer to send a barrel of Grants whiskey to his other generals?
Did he pardon a soldier who was about to be executed for sleeping on duty?
Did Lincoln try to have Jeff Davis killed?
Did Lincoln have something to do with machine guns?
What did the soldiers think of Lincoln?
CHAPTER EIGHT: GETTYSBURG
Did Lincoln really think the world would not remember what he said at Gettysburg?
Did Lincoln write the Gettysburg Address on the back on an envelope, on the train to Gettysburg?
So the train ride was too bumpy to write with a pen.
Could he have done it if he had a laptop computer? 147
Didnt the Gettysburg dedication committee almost forget
to invite Lincoln?
If everyone there knew that Lincolns presence was not just an afterthought but an appropriate part of the ceremony, how did this myth get started?
So Lincoln didnt think the speech was a failure?
What did others think of it?
My kids textbook has the Gettysburg Address in it, and they took out the phrase “under God.” Cant these revisionists leave Lincolns words alone?
Where are the copies now?
When I heard the actor Sam Waterston recite the address, he emphasized “people” in the last line: “of the PEOPLE, by the PEOPLE, for the PEOPLE,” instead of “OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people,” the way its usually done. Why did he do that? Does he know something the rest of us dont know?
What was he trying to do?
CHAPTER NINE: EMANCIPATION
Washington owned slaves, right? Jefferson owned slaves, right? Did Lincoln own slaves?
Why doesnt the question go away?
So consider it. Whats the reason for asking if Lincoln owned slaves?
But you already established that he didnt. There must be some other justification for the question, no?
And what is the big question about Lincoln and slavery?
Which was he-the “Great Emancipator” or a clever, lying racist?
So, Lincoln was a racist. Everybody knows that now anyway. Why is he still called “the Great Emancipator”?
So Lincoln was not a racist?
Did Lincoln use the n-- word?
The Emancipation Proclamation wasnt announced until September 1862. If Lincoln cared about the slaves, why didnt he free them as soon as he became president?
What about the constitutional amendment Lincoln favored that would have protected slavery indefinitely?
Didnt he once say that he wanted to win the war, whether or not he freed the slaves?
Isnt it true that the Emancipation Proclamation didnt really free any slaves at all?
Did Lincoln write the Thirteenth Amendment?
Did Lincoln bribe Congressmen to get them to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment?
Did Lincoln make Nevada a state just so it could ratify the Thirteenth Amendment?
Why didnt Lincoln offer to pay the slaveholders for their slaves? That would have been easier than fighting a war.
What about paying slaveholders not in the Confederacy, like the ones in Kentucky or Missouri?
How did he come up with the value? Did slaves really cost four hundred dollars?
Did Lincoln want to send blacks back to Africa?
Was he serious?
Did he know any African Americans personally?
What did Lincoln think about womens rights?
Was Lincoln black?
What do you think Lincoln would have said about the idea of reparations for slavery?
CHAPTER TEN: LINCOLN THE MAN
How tall was he?
What was his shoe size?
Did people think he was ugly?
Why dont any photographs of Lincoln show him smiling?
Whats the worst photograph of him?
Whats the first one?
Whats the last photograph of Lincoln?
Whats the best Lincoln photo?
Are there any photographs of Lincoln with his wife?
When did he decide to grow a beard?
How was Lincolns health?
Didnt he have some kind of genetic disease that would have eventually killed him?
What about the one that makes people really tall?
Could his DNA be studied to find out if he had either of these conditions?
Was he manic-depressive?
If Lincoln went into a suicidal tailspin just because of bad weather in 1835, isnt that pretty manic?
Was he depressed when he was president?
Did he take anything to treat his depression, like after Willies death?
Is it true that he once took mercury pills? Arent they dangerous?
Other than from mercury poisoning, did Lincoln ever lose his temper?
Did Lincoln hate anyone?
So Lincoln got along with everyone he met?
I heard that he wrote some poetry. Is it any good?
What about the “suicide poem”? Did he really write it?
What was his favorite poem?
Was this Knox his favorite poet?
Was Walt Whitman his favorite poet?
Then who was his favorite poet?
Was the Confederate anthem “Dixie” really his favorite song?
Everybody knows that Lincoln was a great joker. Whats the funniest Lincoln joke you know?
OK, then whats the least funny Lincoln joke?
Why did he tell funny stories?
How many children did Lincoln have?
What kind of a father was he?
Did he have grandchildren?
Why isnt Robert Todd Lincoln buried in the Lincoln family tomb?
Did the presidents children have pets?
Is that where the tradition of the president pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey comes from?
Speaking of signing pardons, did Lincoln have good handwriting?
What was his favorite food?
Was Lincoln a Mason?
Did Lincoln invent something?
Did he know that he would be considered by many people to be the greatest president ever?
You said that Lincoln wasnt a Christian. Then why did he have “In God We Trust” put on our coins?
Didnt he become more religious when he was president?
Did he believe in dreams?
What about Mary? Didnt she hold a séance in the White House?
How did he stand it being married to her?
I read that she chased him with knives and broke his nose with a stick. Doesnt that go beyond “emotional highs and lows”?
Everyone knows he was born poor, but didnt Lincoln die rich?
CHAPTER ELEVEN: MARTYR
Did Lincoln know John Wilkes Booth?
Did Lincoln have premonitions of death?
How did the assassination happen? Why didnt the Secret Service stop Booth?
So there was nobody guarding the president?
Is it true that Booth drilled a hole in the door to the presidential box, so that he could see if anyone was looking before he entered?
Why were Rathbone and Harris invited? Were they special friends of the Lincolns?
Did Major Rathbone try to stop Booth?
What does Sic semper tyrannis mean?
Didnt Booth say something else?
How did Booth get a horse to wait for him?
What happened to Major Rathbone?
Could modern medical techniques have saved Lincolns life after he was shot?
Where is the bullet now?
Why did Booth shoot Lincoln?
Did Booth act alone?
What happened to the doctor who helped Booth? Didnt he get sent to jail and then pardoned?
But werent there also some secret conspirators? Wasnt the secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, really behind the plot?
Was the Confederate government involved in the plot to kill Lincoln?
Was Booth convicted of conspiring with anyone?
Where is he buried?
Are you sure?
What happened to the rest of the conspirators?
What about Mrs. Surratts son? Wasnt he involved?
Did anyone else ever try to kill Lincoln?
CHAPTER TWELVE: LEGACY
Was Lincoln the greatest president?
Does anyone hate Lincoln?
What do you think would have happened if Lincoln had not been assassinated?
Would Lincoln have been able to prevent the Radical Republicans from inflicting Reconstruction on
the South after the war?
So what would Lincoln have done?
You think he would have supported black voting? Didnt he once say he was opposed to political rights for blacks?
Are there any direct descendants of Abraham Lincoln alive today?
Isnt there another descendant, but they paid him to keep it quiet?
“Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”
What was it that Stanton said at the moment Lincoln died?
Where was Lincolns funeral?
Where is he buried?
Was Lincolns corpse ever stolen?
Is there a secret message in the hands of the Lincoln Memorial statue?
Whats the biggest memorial to Lincoln?
Who is the best Lincoln impersonator?
What is the Abraham Lincoln Association? Can I join?
Are there any Lincoln groups not based in Springfield?
What would Lincoln think of all the writers, professors, impersonators, museum guides, souvenir vendors, bicentennial administrators, and others, who make their living from his memory?
Is it true that Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day? If so, what does this mean?
Whats the best book about Lincoln?
What about the worst Lincoln book?
Are there any good childrens books about Lincoln?
Is it true that there are more books about Lincoln than any other historical figure?
Whats the best place to get Lincoln books?
All right, enough reading-what about movies and TV?
Whats the best and worst?
Did scientists raise Lincoln from the dead?
Speaking of JFK, what about the amazing coincidences between the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations?
What do you make of them?
Are you concerned that by simply repeating stories such as this you will end up perpetuating them?
Lets say that Lincoln really could be revived. What would he have to say about legalized abortion?
What museum has most of Lincolns things?
I have an artifact of the assassination. Its a copy of the New York Herald from April 15, 1865. My grandfather passed it on to me, so I know its old.How much is it worth now?
What if I have an ordinary letter signed by Lincoln? Whats that worth?
How can you tell if a Lincoln document is authentic?
Which Lincoln museum is the best?
I know that Lincoln was born near Hodgenville, but why is there a Lincoln museum in Fort Wayne, Indiana? Did he ever live there?
So does that mean Lincoln Financial Field, where the Philadelphia Eagles play, is also named for Lincoln?
Is it true that Lincoln Logs are also named for Lincoln?
What about the Lincoln Town Car?
What was Lincolns greatest accomplishment as president, saving the Union or helping to end slavery?
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