Renowned Scholar Revealed the Abe You Did Not See in the Movie

Published on Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Was Lincoln the Great Emancipator a calculating politician?  Did he inspire his countrymen or embarrass them? The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) and Becker College co-presented Harold Holzer, one of the nation’s leading experts on Lincoln and the Civil War era, in a program that will answer lingering questions about our sixteenth president and two of the most important documents in American history.

Entitled, “Emancipating Lincoln: The Prose and Poetry of the Emancipation Proclamation” the presentation was free and open to the public, and took place at the American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street in Worcester on Friday, October 18, 2013, at 7 p.m., as part of the Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series and the AAS series of public programs.

This lecture examined two of the most important texts in American history, both of which are 150 years old this year: the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address. In its own time, the Emancipation Proclamation was considered a politically risky, even revolutionary act.  In more recent years, many Americans have been taught that it was cautious, insincere, and ineffective.  What was the true impact and intent of Lincoln’s most famous executive order? And what did he do to prepare the public for its announcement–sometimes to the detriment of his own reputation?   The Gettysburg Address fundamentally changed the aims of the Civil War and reinterpreted America’s understanding of its founding principles. How Lincoln created these documents and their subsequent role in American life will be explored in this presentation.

A prolific writer and lecturer, Harold Holzer has appeared on numerous television programs and served as consultant to director Steven Spielberg’s recent film Lincoln. In 2000, President Clinton appointed Holzer to what is now The Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, which he currently chairs. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Bush in 2008. Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited 46 books.

About the American Antiquarian Society

The American Antiquarian Society is both a learned society and a major independent research library. The AAS library today houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, sheet music, and graphic arts material printed through 1876 in what is now the United States, as well as manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary works, bibliographies, and other reference works related to all aspects of American history and culture before the twentieth century.

The Society sponsors a broad range of programs–visiting research fellowships, research, education, publications, lectures, and concerts–for constituencies ranging from school children and their teachers through undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, creative and performing artists and writers, and the general public.

The AAS library is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and Wednesday from 10:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. It is closed on all legal holidays. The library is open to serious researchers, free of charge. Complimentary public tours are held Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m.  The Society can be found on the worldwide web at The American Antiquarian Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that supports public programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences.