Did Abraham Lincoln hate his father so much that he would not visit him on his deathbed or buy him a tombstone? Is it true that Ann Rutledge, who died tragically young, was the real love of his life? Did he order the murder of thirty-eight Dakota Sioux warriors because of his hatred of Native Americans?
Noted historian and Lincoln expert Edward Steers Jr. sets the record straight in this engaging and authoritative book, analyzing the facts and clarifying some of the most prominent misconceptions about the sixteenth president's life. He investigates claims that have found a foothold in mainstream lore, ranging from the contention that Lincoln had a troubled and perhaps scandalous early adulthood in Springfield, to more serious attacks on his character, such as the accusation that he was reluctant to emancipate enslaved people and held racist beliefs. Drawing on his background in health science, Steers also examines allegations that Lincoln suffered numerous illnesses -- from endocrine disorders to syphilis.
Much of the recent revisionist history about Abraham Lincoln relies on selective sources that provide a false image of the man. His law partner of twenty-one years, close friend, and early biographer William Herndon described Lincoln as "the most shut-mouthed man" he ever knew, and yet volumes have been written on Lincoln's musings, beliefs, and private thoughts in general. His life and deeds have been heavily researched, interpreted, and reinterpreted time and again until the interpretations themselves have become untrustworthy.
In this book, Steers relies on primary textual evidence to address each legend at the source and maintains caution when reviewing the potentially biased reminiscences of historic figures close to the president. The result is a fascinating forensic exploration of some of the persistent hoaxes and myths related to America's most revered president.
The Shiftless Father Myth
A Case of Identity Theft
Abe and Ann
Proof from Beyond the Grave
The Great White Father and the Dakota
The Reluctant Emancipator
The Ailing Lincoln
Trading with the Enemy
The Making of West Virginia
"About as good as it gets. Edward Steers adds an unusual dimension to this subject because, as a scientist as well as a historian, he is able to grapple with the issues surrounding the creation of these legends and dissects them, in Abraham Lincoln's words, with 'cold, calculating reason.'" -- Frank J. Williams, founding chairman of the Lincoln Forum and author of Judging Lincoln
"First-rate -- highly readable, informative and thought-provoking. Getting Right with Lincoln is much needed and makes for fascinating reading both for scholars and general Lincoln enthusiasts." -- William D. Pederson, coeditor of Lincoln's Enduring Legacy: Great Thinkers, Great Leaders, and the American Experiment