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Harold Holzer is one of the leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era. He is a prolific writer and lecturer. He has written, co-written and edited over 30 books including Abraham Lincoln, The Writer (2000), which was named to the Children's Literature visa mer Choice List and the Bank Street Best Children's Books of the Year, and Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President (2004), which won a 2005 Lincoln Prize. He has also written over 425 popular magazine and scholarly journal articles and numerous pamphlets and monographs. He has won numerous awards including the Barondess Award of the Civil War Round Table of New York five times; the Award of Achievement from the Lincoln Group of New York three times; a 1988 George Washington Medal; the 2000 Newman Book Award; and the 2008 National Humanities Medal. He is the Senior Vice President for External Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. (Bowker Author Biography) visa färre
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Verk av Harold Holzer

The Civil War in 50 Objects (2013) 167 exemplar
Lincoln on War (2011) 78 exemplar
The Lincoln Family Album (1990) — Författare — 41 exemplar
1863: Lincoln's Pivotal Year (2013) 21 exemplar
Lincoln and New York (2009) 19 exemplar
Lincoln Seen and Heard (2000) 15 exemplar
Rediscovering Abraham Lincoln (2002) 13 exemplar
The Civil War Era (1996) 5 exemplar
Prang's Civil War Pictures (2001) 4 exemplar
Lincoln in His Own Words (2000) 2 exemplar
Changing the Lincoln Image (1985) 2 exemplar
The Civil War 1 exemplar

Associerade verk

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (1958) — Redaktör, vissa utgåvor337 exemplar
Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World (2008) — Bidragsgivare — 118 exemplar
Lincoln on Democracy (1990) — Redaktör — 102 exemplar
The Annotated Lincoln (2016) — Redaktör — 25 exemplar
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Autumn 1995 (1995) — Co-Author "Portrait of a City Under Siege" — 19 exemplar
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Autumn 1992 (1992) — Co-Author "Theater for War: The Gettysburg Cyclorama" — 16 exemplar
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Autumn 1998 (1998) — Author "The Bohemian Brigade's Best" — 14 exemplar
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Summer 1996 (1996) — Co-Author "Winslow Homer's Civil War" — 12 exemplar
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Spring 2001 (2001) — Author "Artists on War: The Union's Medal of Honor Artist" — 9 exemplar
MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History — Autumn 2003 (2003) — Co-Author "Who Designed the CSS Virginia?" — 8 exemplar


Allmänna fakta

Queens, New York, USA
Queens College, City University of New York
Abraham Lincoln Association
Illinois State Historical Society
Priser och utmärkelser
National Humanities Medal (2008)
Kort biografi
Harold Holzer (born February 5, 1949) is a scholar of Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the American Civil War Era. He serves as director of Hunter College's Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. Holzer previously spent twenty-three years as senior vice president for public affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York before retiring in 2015.



I read an opinion piece in a leading New York newspaper that attributed the calamitous presidential election loss of one party’s nominee to the sinister tactics of the opposing party, which had enlisted vast numbers of the foreign born—many with strange customs and an alien faith—into voting for their candidate. This was primarily achieved, the author asserted, by willfully spreading misinformation and fanning the flames of fear among foreigners to “vote in a body for the side they are told is the Democratic, no matter what it proposes to do or leave undone.” Moreover, it was alleged, there was a suspicion of widespread fraud by noncitizens casting votes illegally that may have tipped the balance.
No, this editorial is not hot off of any press in 2024, but instead saw publication late in 1844! And the author is a no pundit on the right venting in an op-ed, but rather the esteemed Horace Greeley, a reformist who was then-editor of the Whig-friendly New-York Daily Tribune. That Greeley’s grievances strike such familiar chords one hundred eighty years later is illustrative of an unsettling but familiar constant in American history: a nation comprised almost entirely of immigrants has with some consistency frequently demonstrated a hostility towards the next generation of immigrants. This odd streak of nativism dates back to the very dawn of the Republic with the “Alien and Sedition Acts” of 1798, enacted only ten years after the Constitution was ratified and championed by none other than Alexander Hamilton, who himself was born in the West Indies! And long after Greeley was gone, Woodrow Wilson warned in 1903 that “there came multitudes of men of the lowest class . . . as if the countries of the south of Europe were disburdening themselves of the more sordid and hapless elements of their population.” As recently as 1960, Rev. Norman Vincent Peale assailed the candidacy of John F. Kennedy in apocalyptic terms: "Faced with the election of a Catholic, our culture is at stake." In this context, the uncomfortable truth is that when Donald Trump branded Mexicans “rapists” and called for a Muslim ban, he was operating within a reluctantly acknowledged time-honored American tradition, even if he voiced it in a tone more vulgar than customary.
But never in our history did nativism—and the forces aligned against it—have as much outsize consequence for American politics and policy as it did in the antebellum and the Civil War era, as becomes abundantly clear in the splendid new book by acclaimed Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer, Brought Forth on This Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration [2024]. In these pages Holzer, author of more than fifty books and winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize, takes a fresh look at the critical if too often overlooked significance of the Native American “Know-Nothing” Party in antebellum politics as the Whigs came apart and the new Republican Party was born. At the same time, he widens the lens on the familiar “benefit vs. burden” debate over immigration to establish with some conviction that in this particular moment in history immigrant minorities proved not only key cohorts of electoral contests but, upon the onset of secession and war, surprisingly essential to our national survival.
First, Holzer takes us back to a time when the most despised immigrant population was the Irish: desperately poor, largely illiterate, and Roman Catholic—a faith that was an anathema to Protestant America. Their numbers increased exponentially after 1844 with the devastating potato famine that claimed a million dead to starvation and sent millions more fleeing the country. They were largely unwelcome in America, even as their addition to the labor force boosted American business. There was the typical charge against the Irish of putting the native born out of work, but like most immigrants then and now, they flocked to low-paid menial jobs most Americans did not want, and because of an overheated demand, their presence actually generated a degree of upward mobility for those already employed, particularly in places like Boston brutally focused upon wage labor in factories and mills. But, then and now, the perceived threat was all that really mattered.
Politically, that perceived threat spawned an unlikely coalition of the disaffected, including many former Whigs, to form secret societies to resist the influx of immigrants that quickly evolved into the Native American Party, popularly dubbed the “Know-Nothings,” which briefly but mightily shook up the established political order. That the Whigs as a national party eventually imploded over the issue of slavery overlooks nuance in other factors such as the Know-Nothings, which contributed to their slow unraveling. At the same time, the Know-Nothings’ advertised hostility to the Irish sent them into the welcoming arms of the Democratic Party, which happily targeted them as a dependable long-term voting bloc. This was the conundrum Greeley, a steadfast Whig, opined about in the Tribune.
Today’s charged allegations of immigrant votes swaying elections are largely imaginative talking-points broadcast to inflame hyperpartisanship, but in Greeley’s day such anxieties were well-founded. The reality in our times—with so much vitriol directed at millions of the undocumented—is that in order to cast a ballot, an immigrant must first establish legal residence (no small hurdle for those who lack legal status), then wait five years before applying for citizenship and earning the right to vote. But back then, no one could be branded as “illegal”—such a concept did not even exist until the shameful 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act—so five years after stepping off the boat, regardless of national origin, virtually anyone could request and be granted citizenship, and along with it any male of a certain age could obtain voting rights. The push-pull factor of the Know-Nothings’ blatant enmity and the deliberate embrace of the Democrats rattled Whig confidence to no end.
The other significant foreign born demographic was German, Protestant and Catholic, many whom had fled Europe after the failed liberal revolutions of 1848. While wary of Whigs who sometimes danced in the same circles as Know-Nothings, their antislavery principles could not abide a close coupling with Democrats closely allied with southern slave power interests. Germans, for a variety of factors, also seemed to assimilate more rapidly, and their votes remained valuable if up for grabs. All of this occurred against a dramatic backdrop that saw national unity crumbling, Whiggery gradually going extinct, and the creation of the Republican Party.
Enter Lincoln, a longtime Whig unfriendly to nativism, who was also a brilliant politician capable of sensing and seizing opportunities. Armed with reliable antislavery credentials but well-distanced from the radicalism attached to abolitionists, Lincoln privately denounced the Know-Nothings while publicly withholding judgment, and championed “free soil” opportunities in the territories equally attractive to the native and the foreign born. Shrewdly navigating a precarious center that found competing as well as conflicting interests to his left and right, Lincoln recruited all-comers, reconciling nearly all save those that would countenance the further spread of slavery. In the end, Lincoln managed to find wide support among immigrants, especially the Germans, without alienating former Know-Nothings, a notable achievement too often overlooked in the literature. But none of it was by accident: leaders of the German-American community that Lincoln courted worked tirelessly to drive voters to the polls. The breadth of Holzer’s scholarship and his expert analysis are perhaps best showcased in this portion of the narrative as he explores how the subtleties of Lincoln’s character, coupled with his strategic instincts, reinforced his political acumen.
With secession and Civil War, of course, the focus shifted from ballots to bullets, and here immigrants—citizens and non-citizens alike—proved vital to the struggle. The foreign born filled the ranks. With their adopted nation under threat, the Irish, who had voted for Lincoln in far smaller numbers than their German counterparts, nevertheless sent more than 150,000 men to the front. Still, the largest ethnicity belonged to the Germans, who contributed well over 200,000 soldiers—about ten percent of the fighting force! But the new president also put his thumb on the scale: in the scramble for political appointments Lincoln astutely rewarded those with the most clout, including German-Americans who campaigned for him. And this type of favor was even more pronounced as new generals were commissioned, most famously with Franz Sigel, whose ability to inspire enthusiasm in the ranks vastly exceeded his talents on the battlefield. Sadly, he was not alone. In fact, the ineptitude of many of Lincoln’s political generals—both native and foreign born—plagued him throughout the conflict, but yet remained essential to recruitment efforts as the war dragged on.
Immigration was crucial elsewhere, as well. From the time the first shots were fired, the Confederacy was able to field a larger percentage of men with muskets than the United States because they could rely on the enslaved as a massive labor force, both at home and at the front; we now know that thousands of “camp slaves” accompanied rebel armies for the duration of the war. The north had no such luxury. So in addition to their service in uniform, the Union counted on immigrants behind the lines for production of materiel as well as to take the places of those at the front in factories, mills, and beyond. At the same time, acts fostering internal improvements, long blocked by the south, were now making their way through Congress. Lincoln, a man of vision whose prescience often far exceeded that of any of his contemporaries, recognized the urgency in expanding the population to meet accelerating demands for labor, just as the nation confronted an existential threat of extinction. Of course, with no end to the war in sight, more soldiers would be needed too. Thus Lincoln became the first president to sponsor and sign legislation that encouraged immigration.
Many nationalities other than Irish and German deserve their due, and the author touches upon them, but he rightly focuses his attention on the most consequential groups. Yet, he does carve out space to discuss Jews in America, a minority both within and outside of the immigrant community, whom Lincoln generally treated with favor, for personal as well as political reasons. While Lincoln was sometimes given to the telling of ethnic jokes, as Holzer recounts, he genuinely seems to have lacked many—if certainly not all—of the prejudices common to his time.
If I was to find fault, I thought there were far too many pages devoted to chronicling the series of German-American generals who consistently let Lincoln down on the battlefield, the only drag to an otherwise fast-moving narrative. At the same time, I craved a deeper dive into what drove fierce German antislavery sentiments to begin with, something that made them natural allies to the Republican cause. But these are, I suppose, just quibbles. It is, after all, a fine work, and it more than earns a place on your Civil War bookcase.
I came to this book in an unusual fashion. I unexpectedly ran into Harold Holzer in the lobby of an eighteenth century inn in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. We had met before, at the Civil War Institute Summer Conference at Gettysburg College, and at other events. I was on my way to see blues guitarist-vocalist extraordinaire Samantha Fish in Great Barrington; Harold was returning from a presentation of this very book at a local library. We exchanged pleasantries and moved on. The next day, my wife and I stopped in at bookstore in a nearby town and I asked about Holzer’s book. The owner of the bookstore suddenly became quite animated. Did I know Harold, he wanted to know … While I chatted with him, I pretended not to notice my wife surreptitiously purchasing Brought Forth on This Continent, which two weeks later showed up in my Easter Basket. (Yes, we still do Easter Baskets in my house!)
I was most grateful to receive this book because antebellum nativism falls into my zone of interest. Some years ago, I even published a journal article about the weird confluence of events that in 1855 had the Massachusetts legislature controlled by Know-Nothings pass the very first bill mandating school desegregation in American history! I have also spent decades studying Lincoln and the Civil War, so Holzer’s book checked all the boxes. As it turned out, I was not disappointed. This is an outstanding work that succeeds not only in recapturing critical moments in American history, but in restoring the relevance of immigration to the survival and success of the Republic. Given the dynamics of this election year, that comes perhaps not a moment too soon.

Link to Greeley, cited above: New-York Daily Tribune, November 11, 1844

Link to my journal article: Strange Bedfellows: Nativism, Know-Nothings, African-Americans and School Desegregation in Antebellum Massachusetts, by Stan Prager

More on the Know-Nothings: Review of: The Know-Nothing Party in Massachusetts: The Rise and Fall of a People’s Movement, by John R. Mulkern

More on CWI: Civil War Institute at Gettysburg Summer Conference 2024 – Regarp Book Blog

Review of: Brought Forth on This Continent: Abraham Lincoln and American Immigration, by Harold Holzer – Regarp Book Blog
… (mer)
Garp83 | May 16, 2024 |
My problem with history books, generally speaking, until recently, was the most of them tended to focus on statistics in one form or another (dates, battles, treaties, laws, etc) and very rarely about the people, the culture. One without the other is history without context and as such either put me to sleep or went in one ear and out the other.

But I've always had more than a bit of hero worship for Abraham Lincoln. Just looking at his portraits, there is something compelling to his visage, something that implies the hidden depths are deep indeed.

So when I heard about this book, it sounded like just the thing I was looking for: mostly contemporaneous anecdotes of Lincoln, told by those that loved him, worked with him, or worked for him - and a few by those that worked against him. Short of asking Lincoln's cat what he thought of him, I can think of no better way of really learning the true quality of the man himself than from what his friends and opponents thought of him.

Holzer puts together a slim but comprehensive volume of such anecdotes, groups by relationship to Lincoln: family, friends, press, etc. In the introduction and at the end in the author's notes he is clear that the collection is but a drop in the bucket, but is representative of the whole, and that he has left each alone save for editing for readability (i.e. swapping em dashes for periods to comply with modern grammar).

By far the most eloquent of the pieces, and likely my favourites on first reflection, are those written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, and Frederick Douglass. Beecher Stowe for her beautiful writing, Truth for her passion and grace, and Douglass for his honesty. My least favourite, although Holzer gets credit for avoiding bias, are two excerpts from John Wilkes Booth; it brings balance to the work, but feels blasphemous somehow, to include his assassin's memories.

The number one thing in common amongst all these anecdotes - whether the writer admired or reviled Lincoln: that he was honest, kind and moral. How many historical figures have the respect of their detractors?

I read this for the Optional 4th of July Main Street Read for space #13. Pages: 262
… (mer)
murderbydeath | 1 annan recension | Jan 24, 2022 |
Interesting perspectives and analysis how various Presidential administrations handled press coverage throughout our nation’s history. Based on this book, FDR (with his Fireside Chats) and JFK with his intellect and humor were very good at dealing with the press and also communicating with the American public. Donald Trump has been a disaster.

It was interesting to see how various Press Secretaries in the various administrations made out. Most of them did not have long tenures. I enjoyed the book as the author kept things interesting with inside stories throughout its 443 pages.

Trump has little use for the press. Very few press conferences. He uses Twitter to get his message out. Hopefully starting with Joe Biden, there will be a renewed civility between the President and the Press. But I’m not counting on it.
… (mer)
writemoves | 1 annan recension | Oct 26, 2021 |
5760. The Presidents vs. The Press The Endless Battle Between the White House and the Media--from the Founding Fathers to Fake News, by Harold Holzer (read 19 Oct 2021) This book covers the presidencies of Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, and all the presidents since Kennedy up to 2019 and their relations with the media. That relationship is usually contentious. The author of the book is a Lincoln scholar and one gets the idea that he was not really very familiar with other presidents and suspects that his discussion of the other presidents elations with the media relies much on less intense study. He paints a picture of all the presidents sort of looking on the press as an enemy, though only Trump actually called the media an enemy. The book is very readable and holds one's interest--but I can't say I always agreed with the author's judgments. That may be because he was as hard on Democratic presidents I liked as he was on presidents I disapproved of.… (mer)
Schmerguls | 1 annan recension | Oct 19, 2021 |



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Associerade författare

Frank J. Williams Contributor
Bill Clinton Foreword
Jr. Lerone Bennett Contributor
Mario M. Cuomo Contributor
Horace Greeley Contributor
John G. Nicolay Contributor
Henry Ward Beecher Contributor
Ida M. Tarbell Contributor
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