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James M. Mcpherson

February 2024
1min read

CIVIL WAR HISTORIAN

I met Abraham Lincoln in Baltimore on his 150th birthday, February 12, 1959. I was a first-year graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, still academically wet behind the ears. About all I knew of Lincoln I had picked up from a cursory reading of Benjamin Thomas’s biography a year or two earlier and from a first-semester research paper I had done on Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton (which in fact focused on the 1865–67 period). But apparently that was more than anyone else in Baltimore was reputed to know about Lincoln at the time, for a local radio station invited me to answer call-in questions from listeners in a program commemorating Lincoln’s birthday.

I learned from that humbling experience that I did not know all the answers—or even most of them—about Lincoln. But the experience also motivated me to try to find many of those answers, and I have been happily involved in the quest ever since.

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