Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions About Abraham Lincoln

Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Author . Pantheon $24.95 (311p) ISBN 978-0-375-42541-7

East Carolina University history professor Prokopowicz has created a Lincoln trivia book, answering dozens of questions about the 16th president of the United States. Did he write his own speeches? (Yes, though sometimes he “borrowed” from other writers—the conclusion of the Gettysburg Address echoes abolitionist Theodore Parker.) Do we celebrate Thanksgiving because of Lincoln? (Lincoln declared a national day of thanksgiving on the urging of writer and editor Sarah Josepha Hale.) Did Mary Lincoln hold séances in the White House? (Yes; she was trying to contact her dead son.) How tall was Abe? (Six feet and “nearly” four inches.) Prokopowicz addresses some trendy topics, such as the two depressive episodes Lincoln experienced in the 1830s and 1840s and the debate about Lincoln's sexual orientation. As for the titular question, Prokopowicz insists that people keep asking whether Lincoln owned slaves: he did not, but he “may have rented one.” Although the irksome q&a format necessarily lends itself to a certain superficiality, Prokopowicz is learned, his tone is engaging and his suggestions for further reading at the end of each thematic chapter are also a helpful resource. (Jan. 22)

Reviewed on: 11/19/2007
Release date: 01/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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