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Judging Lincoln

Judging Lincoln

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Frank J. Williams. Foreword by Harold Holzer. Epilogue by John Y. Simon


E-book (Other formats: Paperback)
6 x 9, 49 illustrations


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About the Book

Judging Lincoln collects nine of the most insightful essays on the topic of the sixteenth president written by Frank J. Williams, chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and one of the nation’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln. For Judge Williams, Lincoln remains the central figure of the American experience—past, present, and future.
Williams begins with a survey of the interest in—and influence of—Lincoln both at home and abroad and then moves into an analysis of Lincoln’s personal character with respect to his ability to foster relationships of equality among his intimates.
Williams then addresses Lincoln’s leadership abilities during the span of his career, with particular emphasis on the Civil War. Next, he compares the qualities of Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill. The final essay, cowritten with Mark E. Neely Jr., concerns collecting Lincoln artifacts as a means of preserving and fostering the Lincoln legacy.


Frank J. Williams is the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island and a well-known expert on Abraham Lincoln. He has authored or edited eleven books and contributed to several others, including The Emancipation Proclamation—Three Views, published in 2006. Williams is the founding chairman of the Lincoln Forum, the current president of the Ulysses S. Grant Association, and a past president of the Abraham Lincoln Association and of the Lincoln Group of Boston. He is also a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.


“Though thousands of studies have already attempted to describe, explain, applaud, or criticize Abraham Lincoln. . . . [Judging Lincoln] offers fresh insights. . . . . These nine essays examine topics of interest to the modern reader, from Lincoln’s attitude toward women, civil liberties, and the 13th Amendment to a unique article written with Pulitzer Prize–winning author Mark E. Neely Jr. on collecting Lincoln memorabilia. Based on a variety of primary and secondary sources and adorned with rare historic illustrations not published elsewhere, this work is recommended for libraries that wish to have a truly comprehensive collection of materials on this President.”—Library Journal

Judging Lincoln contains many fresh and provocative insights on the life and times of our sixteenth president. [Williams] judges Lincoln with scrupulous and impartial empathy, not overlooking his mistakes but in the end making it clear why the architect of Union and freedom was our greatest president.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
“Williams is plainly a cut above unrefined Lincoln enthusiasm because he recognizes the difficulty of pinning Lincoln down. . . .  Like the work of Harold Holzer, Williams’ book will be popular with fellow Lincoln fans.” —Booklist

“Many of Judge Williams’s lectures have appeared in print before, both in journals and in important collections of the papers and proceedings of scholarly conferences. What has been lacking—until now—is a single volume of his best work. Its arrival promises to reveal, to a wider audience than ever, his highly original perspective, his gift for comprehensive analysis of complex legal and political issues, and his relentless curiosity about the deepest, often least studied, aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s life and career. Lincoln scholars used to be referred to as ‘authorities.’ It is a title one cannot help but feel rests comfortably on Frank J. Williams’s shoulders: he is an authoritative figure in every sense of the phrase.”—Harold Holzer, from the Foreword

“Both historians and general readers will welcome this treasury from one of the wisest and most original students of Abraham Lincoln and his times. This elegant and fascinating book confirms Frank Williams’s important place in the firmament of Lincoln scholars and does a brilliant job of showing us why Lincoln’s ideals and methods of leadership are so necessary for Americans to understand almost a century and a half after his passing.”—Michael Beschloss, presidential historian