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Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

Join an award-winning professor on a great adventure: A tour of Lincoln's life, from his forebears' arrival in America through an evaluation of how his legacy lives on for us today.
Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 151.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from A little too much pure Civil War History I enjoyed the portrait of Abraham Lincoln that was painted in this course, especially in the first few lectures. The professor is very likable and enjoyable to listen to. My only criticism of this course is that in the second half, it at times turned a little bit too much into a straight telling of Civil War History. While I understand it is necessary to make sure the audience knows the basics of the Civil War for context, it at times got into real detail of the course of the war that strayed far from Lincoln. I had just completed Gary Gallagher's excellent 48-lecture course on the Civil War before this, and I didn't mind hearing it again, I suppose I was just hoping for a bit more of a focus on the life of Abraham Lincoln based on the title of the course (more of his personal life, his views as revealed in his extensive correspondence, more detail on the Douglas debates). But no matter: I bought the History of the United States 2nd Edition course to which Mr Guelzo is a contributor and look forward to that, and I also bought Michael Burlingame's "Abraham Lincoln: A Life" to supplement this course. Recommend this course for Lincoln lovers though!
Date published: 2024-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well put This is a superbly done synopsis of Abraham Lincoln’s life and his special contribution to our country’s democracy. It is spectacularly presented by Professor Guelzo, who does so without referring to any notes.
Date published: 2024-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As timely today — 20 years later! This should be required viewing for everyone in public office (and for all citizens and residents of the U.S.). In our especially polarized time (with the 2024 presidential election coming up) we desperately need the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln more than ever!
Date published: 2024-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting lectures by a knowledgable presenter Have been studying A. Lincoln, over the last few months, to see if he was as great as we are sometimes led to believe. Mr. Guelzo presents twelve lectures which give a terrific insight into Lincoln's background, career, and eventual political career. Terrific introduction to the subject.
Date published: 2024-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Insights I have watched this many times, as I love Abraham Lincoln as much as the professor. Allen gave some excellent insights into Lincoln's life that you don't normally hear about in school and I appreciated that. Thank you for this fine biography so well presented.
Date published: 2024-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT !! This course is about the man, not just what you have always been taught. It makes you feel the true Lincoln. The professor is fantastic and truly passionate about Lincoln and the lecture, I recommend this course to anyone who is interested in this period of our history.
Date published: 2023-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! We have been surrounded Civil War and Lincoln information since we live in an area that is "Lincoln land" for nearly all of our lives. This is the first time I have heard all the separate stories that I know told as one seamless narrative that ties them together. I now have a better understand the decisions that Lincoln made in the context of the circumstances he was facing. The lecturer has a wonderful presentation style that makes him easy to listen to and follow. We have 2 lectures to go and will be sad when it is finished!
Date published: 2023-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful overview of a great man! Although the Great Courses feature many, many fine teachers and superb lecturers, none surpasses Allen Guelzo (at least in my opinion) for his dynamic style in which he brings to life notably Mr. Lincoln in this short 12-lecture course, but also so many others whom Lincoln encountered and/or impressed. It is sadly unthinkable that a man like Abraham Lincoln could today in our own fractured times even be considered as a candidate for high office, both because in our television and influence dominated age his looks would disqualify him but also because he had such solid ethics and such high-minded principles. I appreciated how professor Guelzo both traced Lincoln's growth in understanding of the major issues of his time as well has stressed those many factors which were seemingly present in Lincoln from the beginning, including his voracious appetite for reading, curiosity about apparently everything, simple human decency, and an unwillingness to ever see the mistreatment -- let alone enslavement -- of other human beings as anything other than a great evil. It is true that the ending of slavery in the South was NOT Lincoln's priority, in large measure because he shared the prevailing view that its presence there was part of the compact by which the Constitution was hammered out and adopted. Put simply, the federal government had no ability to interfere in an institution -- however deplorable and inhumane -- in states where it had already existed in 1789. It is a sad fact that the South ALWAYS used the existence of slavery -- and their demands that their slaves count towards representation in the US House's membership (through the infamous 3/5 clause) -- to demand, and win, concessions from the rest of the country. This was so in the adoption of the Constitution, since without the South's votes the document could not be adopted, and it remained so throughout the first half of the 19th century when, on issue after issue, the South demanded respect for its views and a continued "hands-off" when it came to their system of chattel slavery. The breaking point -- for Lincoln and many others -- came when the South increasingly pressed for territorial expansion of their system to NEW territories and states. For many in the South, the lands to the West, Southwest, and Northwest that the US acquired in the first half of the 19th century represented an opportunity to perpetuate the dominance of slave-holding states' powers throughout the rest of the 19th century and well into the next century as well. This Lincoln would not -- and could not -- allow. Many today have been critical of Lincoln for this, as well as for his expressed non-wish -- at least before the beginning of the Civil War -- to allow equal political rights, let alone social rights, to Black people. But not only was he a man of his time -- something we who study history have to always remember (we are to tell truthfully what happened while remaining cautious about falling into judgment) -- but he also had the tremendous task of BRINGING ALONG a sufficiently large segment of the voting population to support his efforts to end slavery. I think anyone will find this course absolutely mesmerizing as well as deeply informative. And, by the way, this is one of those relatively few courses that can be deeply appreciated through audio alone, for Guelzo's voice will entrance and carry the day. Bravo to all involved!
Date published: 2023-04-19
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What made our 16th president capable of achieving his greatness? Explore this grand question with the help of award-winning Professor Allen C. Guelzo, one of the country's most distinguished Abraham Lincoln scholars. In Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, he takes you on an insightful tour of Lincoln's life and an evaluation of how his legacy lives on today. See Lincoln through the eyes of those who knew, lived with, and worked with him. By the end of this absorbing course, you'll have expanded your knowledge of this profound man and political leader&;amp;-one whose unforgettable words, courageous ideas, and ambitious life embody the nature of democracy and the triumphant spirit of America.


Allen C. Guelzo

For Lincoln, no matter what our political persuasions, moral principle in the end is all that unites us and all that ensures that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.


Gettysburg College

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Among garnering other honors, he has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He is a member of the National Council on the Humanities. Professor Guelzo is the author of numerous books on American intellectual history, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War era. His publication awards include the Lincoln Prize as well as the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize for two of his books-Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America–making him the first double Lincoln laureate in the history of both prizes. His critically acclaimed book, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. Professor Guelzo has written for The American Historical Review, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, C-SPAN's Booknotes, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

By This Professor

America's Founding Fathers
Young Man Lincoln

01: Young Man Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born with little more than his own natural talents. His father, Thomas, was more than contented with the life of a classic Jeffersonian farmer in Kentucky. When the Lincolns moved from Indiana to Illinois in 1830, Abraham struck out on his own and never looked back....

32 min
Whig Meteor

02: Whig Meteor

Lincoln's entry into politics coincided with the emergence of a new national political party, the Whigs, founded by Henry Clay. Lincoln moved into the forefront of Whig agitation in Illinois to improve business and finance. His own business ventures, however, flopped, and in 1837 he took up the practice of law in Springfield, Illinois....

31 min
Lincoln, Law, and Politics

03: Lincoln, Law, and Politics

Through his law partner, John Todd Stuart, Lincoln met and married Mary Todd in 1842 and attached himself to the Whig elite of Springfield. He won election to Congress in 1846, but his term was undistinguished. Lincoln returned to Illinois to a life of domestic unhappiness, but substantial success as an attorney, especially in civil litigation....

29 min
The Mind of Abraham Lincoln

04: The Mind of Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's folksiness was a shield he rarely let down. Many saw him as an introverted, slightly aloof lawyer. He disliked wanna-be aristocrats and was a tremendous reader. He believed in God, but not the God of any formal religion....

29 min
Lincoln and Slavery

05: Lincoln and Slavery

Lincoln expected that slavery would die out. Instead it experienced a tremendous revolution in profitability. In 1854, Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas opened the western territories to slave expansion through the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Lincoln reentered politics in opposition....

31 min
The Great Debates

06: The Great Debates

Lincoln joined the Republican Party and challenged Stephen A. Douglas for the Illinois senate seat in 1858. In seven open-air debates across Illinois, Douglas portrayed Lincoln as an abolitionist fanatic, and Lincoln condemned Douglas's indifference to the moral wrong of slavery. Lincoln narrowly lost the election but gained national attention....

29 min
Lincoln and Liberty, Too

07: Lincoln and Liberty, Too

After Lincoln impressed East Coast Republicans with a major address at New York's Cooper Institute, his backers stage-managed his nomination at the Republican convention in May 1860. He won the presidency by garnering almost all of the North's electoral votes....

29 min
The Uncertain President

08: The Uncertain President

When South Carolina led the Southern states in seceding from the Union, it was unclear whether Lincoln had the experience or skill to manage the situation. He responded to the South's attack on Ft. Sumter by calling out the militia, but the first battle of the Civil War, Bull Run, was a defeat for the Union army. Lincoln then turned to George McClellan as his chief strategist....

31 min
The Emancipation Moment

09: The Emancipation Moment

General McClellan was a great organizer but strategically lethargic. Lincoln concluded that he had no choice but to connect the war with the ending of slavery, over McClellan's opposition. Lincoln's original plan for emancipation had been to offer gradual buy-outs-monetary compensation to slave owners-but when these were refused by the Border States, he turned to the Emancipation Proclamation....

31 min
Lincoln's Triumph

10: Lincoln's Triumph

The Emancipation Proclamation cost Lincoln and his party dearly in the 1862 elections. He also sustained deep personal wounds in the death of his son and political tribulations from a divided cabinet, radical members of his own party, and the Democratic Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Lincoln drew on his confidence in the will of God and his shrewd powers of analyzing people and situations....

30 min
The President's Sword

11: The President's Sword

Lincoln used speeches and letters to defend his ideas, and his success was extraordinary. His gift as a communicator was matched by the gift for battlefield victory offered by Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln feared he would be defeated for reelection, but a string of Union military victories rejuvenated his fortunes....

35 min
The Dream of Lincoln

12: The Dream of Lincoln

Lincoln's Second Inaugural offered a quasi theology of the war, rebuking radicals of his own party who wanted a vengeful reconstruction of the South. But Lincoln was already beginning to attach conditions to reconstruction himself, beginning with recognition of slave emancipation and voting rights for freed slaves. These plans were tragically cut short by his murder on the night of April 14, 1865....

31 min