An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln: John G. Nicolay's Interviews and Essays
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In "An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln", Michael Burlingame has uncovered buried Lincoln treasure from the papers of one of Lincoln's private secretaries, John G. Nicolay. Between 1872 and 1890, Nicolay and John Hay worked on a monumental ten-volume biography of Lincoln for which they conducted thirty-nine interviews in Springfield and Washington. However, some of Nicolay's notes were written in shorthand, making them inaccessible to researchers. Nicolay and Hay had made little use of the interviews in the published biography, partly because they considered the information too personal or embarrassing for the Lincoln family, especially to Robert Todd Lincoln, and partly because they wanted to rely on contemporary documents rather than reminiscences. Through the interviews, Nicolay learned that Lincoln broke off his initial engagement to Mary Todd in 1841, that he suffered from frequent despondency, and that he was constantly anxious that his wife would embarrass him.
In this first paperback edition of "An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln", Burlingame unearths these documents, skillfully transcribes Nicolay's interviews, and presents them here with context and annotation, offering new insight into previously unknown aspects of Lincoln's life.
Michael Burlingame, Sadowski Professor of History Emeritus at Connecticut College, is the author of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln and the editor of ten volumes of primary sources about Lincoln, including An Oral History of Abraham Lincoln: John G. Nicolay's Interviews and Essays - winner of the Abraham Lincoln Association Prize. He won the prestigious Lincoln Prize, honorable mention, for his five edited collections of letters, memoranda, editorial essays, lectures, and interviews by Lincoln's White House private secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John M. Hay, all published by Southern Illinois University Press.
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