Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

Rated 5 out of 5 by from I've had the pleasure of listening to two of Professor Guelzo's lecture series, namely, The Founding Fathers and now The Life of Abraham Lincoln. I couldn't ask for more engaging, content-rich, clearly presented and organized lectures than these two from Professor Guelzo! He's quite simply one of the best educators I've had the pleasure of learning from!
Date published: 2020-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Springfield's Adopted Son I live outside the city that has claimed him as its own, I have portrayed his eldest son in a couple of local theatrical productions (based on both fact and fancy), and I am acquainted with people who help operate the Abraham Presidential Library & Museum as well as The Papers of Abraham Lincoln. I was very curious to see what this series would bring to the table. Dr. Guelzo's presentation is excellent, orating in a ringing, pastoral manner (Doctor of Divinity degree shining through right there) as he outlines Lincoln's pre-life, childhood, young professional life, and, finally political life and legacy. This is worth the watch for people who simply know Lincoln as "Honest Abe" and that he's considered a great president. For me, I got the most out of how Guelzo frames Lincoln against the circumstances which led to the secession of the Southern states, which I had never known. A couple of commenters here over the years have pointed out glaring gloss-overs and complete omissions, particularly with regard to liberties he took (in both senses of the word) during his Presidency - which, admittedly, are glossed over here,a s well, in the town that deifies him. All that (plus Dr. Guelzo's overt evangelizing in the final lecture) aside, this is a well-organized, briskly-paced 6 hours that, while shining an overly favorable light on the left face of Mt. Rushmore, is still grounded in truth that demonstrates that "right makes might."
Date published: 2020-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally appropriate Dr Guelzo's presentation is so personal and accurate, it seems he knew Lincoln personally. Great lecture series
Date published: 2020-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Super course Excellent course with a great professor! I just started the course on the revolutionary war and was delighted by the fact it’s the same professor as the course on Abraham Lincoln.
Date published: 2020-04-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific lecturer! Professor Guelzo has a terrific speaking style and voice. I chose the audio version, so I really need an instructor who can engage me without the benefit of visual aids. It’s obvious Dr. Guelzo is extremely knowledgeable about the period and Lincoln's place in it. Can't recommend him and this course enough.
Date published: 2020-04-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent course This was an excellent course. The one weakness was I think its rather cursory treatment of Lincoln's religious beliefs. I got the feeling that the speaker was not comfortable discussing religion himself and so did not know how to approach or think about the subject. Even so, the course is well-worth listening to.
Date published: 2020-01-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Well-Done Hagiography Please see reviewer jwm1's excellent "Most Helpful Critical Review", entitled "The Church of Saint Lincoln". Although I am not nearly as knowledgeable as Mr. 1, I agree pretty much completely. Lincoln comes across as near perfect in Professor Guelzo's telling. I recognize his (Lincoln's) greatness, but he was not a saint. As just one example which even I picked up on, Lincoln's well-known negative views of African Americans (racism in today's context) are ignored by our professor except for part of one sentence in the final lecture. Professor Guelzo is an excellent lecturer, organized, enthusiastic, and eloquent. My only complaint here is the order-of-magnitude variation in the volume of his speech: When I turned the sound down to where his highest-decibel exclamations were not painful, I could not hear the endings of the many sentences in which our professor swallowed his words. (Professor Guelzo also manages to come across as if he were addressing the Republican National Convention in his final summary, but this is thankfully brief.) Unlike jwm1, I am recommending the course, because it does give a well-delivered summary of the main points of Lincoln's life. But if you take it, keep in mind the negatives. And please review it!
Date published: 2019-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A most enjoyable course of study. While much of the course material traversed terrain familiar to an informed student of American history in general, and of the life of Abraham Lincoln in particular, the presentation was simply marvelous and made the familiar seem almost new. The end of one chapter of study left the viewer looking forward to the start of the next.
Date published: 2019-10-20
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Young Man Lincoln
1: 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
2: 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
3: 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
4: 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
5: 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
6: 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
7: 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
8: 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
9: 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
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.


University of Pennsylvania


Gettysburg College

About Allen C. Guelzo

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.

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