From The Editor

By Carol Berkin

Abraham Lincoln is surely the most revered and admired president in our national history. As we look forward to the bicentennial of President Lincoln’s birthday in 2009, History Now is fortunate to have four leading Lincoln scholars giving us their thoughts on the man who preserved the Union and took the first critical steps toward ending slavery in the United States. Taken together, these essays offer us a new lens through which to view the man, his political philosophy, his deeds, and his legacy. In "Abraham Lincoln and Jacksonian Democracy," Professor Sean Wilentz traces the surprising connection between Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, and reminds us that Lincoln was willing to look for political wisdom and political strategies whether associated with his own party or with the rival Democratic Party. Professor Manisha Sinha provides insight into the role of both black and white abolitionists in the president’s evolving position on emancipation and black rights. In "Allies for Emancipation?: Lincoln and Black Abolitionists", Sinha shows how the President’s willingness to meet with and listen to the views of African Americans influenced his decision to reject colonization and embrace emancipation—and ultimately to support the call to extend political citizenship to African Americans. In "Natural Rights, Citizen Rights, States Rights, and Black Rights: Another Look at Lincoln and Race," Professor James Oakes clarifies Lincoln’s views on race through a careful look at the various, and competing definitions of "rights." Oakes argues that Lincoln did not believe black men and women could or should be denied their natural rights, but that his acceptance of states’ rights allowed him to avoid the question of extending political citizenship rights to African Americans. Finally, in "Lincoln’s Religion," Professor Richard Carwadine traces Lincoln’s deepening faith as the national crisis deepened and his growing belief in the immediacy of Providence in human affairs as well as the role that the President’s religious sentiments played in mobilizing support for the war among Union citizens. We hope that these probing and insightful essays will provide you with new perspectives on President Lincoln that you can share with your students in the coming months.

Our interactive feature allows you to see and hear these Lincoln scholars as they address the Lincoln Symposium held in November 2008 at Columbia University, and, as always, Dr. Mary-Jo Kline directs you to a wealth of primary and secondary sources in books and on the web. Our two book reviewers have chosen to diverge from their usual activity, and have instead offered valuable guidance and useful suggestions on how to best use Lincoln primary sources in the classroom. Finally, we offer readers lesson plans at all grade levels from master teachers from across the country.

All of us here at History Now wish you happy holidays and a joyous, healthy new year.

Carol Berkin                                                           
Editor, History Now                                              

Carol Berkin is Presidential Professor of History at Baruch College and The Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of several books including Jonathan Sewall: Odyssey of an American Conservative, First Generations: Women in Colonial America, A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution, and Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America's Independence.

The essays in this issue of History Now are adapted from Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, edited by Eric Foner. Copyright © 2008 by W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. "Abraham Lincoln and Jacksonian Democracy" copyright © 2008 by Sean Wilentz. "Natural Rights, Citizenship Rights, States' Rights, and Black Rights: Another Look at Lincoln and Race" copyright © 2008 by James Oakes. "Lincoln's Religion" copyright © 2008 by Richard Carwardine. "Allies for Emancipation?: Lincoln and Black Abolitionists" copyright © 2008 by Manisha Sinha.