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Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln

Join an award-winning professor on a great adventure: A tour of Lincoln's life, from his forebears' arrival in America through an evaluation of how his legacy lives on for us today.
Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 145.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! We have been surrounded Civil War and Lincoln information since we live in an area that is "Lincoln land" for nearly all of our lives. This is the first time I have heard all the separate stories that I know told as one seamless narrative that ties them together. I now have a better understand the decisions that Lincoln made in the context of the circumstances he was facing. The lecturer has a wonderful presentation style that makes him easy to listen to and follow. We have 2 lectures to go and will be sad when it is finished!
Date published: 2023-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful overview of a great man! Although the Great Courses feature many, many fine teachers and superb lecturers, none surpasses Allen Guelzo (at least in my opinion) for his dynamic style in which he brings to life notably Mr. Lincoln in this short 12-lecture course, but also so many others whom Lincoln encountered and/or impressed. It is sadly unthinkable that a man like Abraham Lincoln could today in our own fractured times even be considered as a candidate for high office, both because in our television and influence dominated age his looks would disqualify him but also because he had such solid ethics and such high-minded principles. I appreciated how professor Guelzo both traced Lincoln's growth in understanding of the major issues of his time as well has stressed those many factors which were seemingly present in Lincoln from the beginning, including his voracious appetite for reading, curiosity about apparently everything, simple human decency, and an unwillingness to ever see the mistreatment -- let alone enslavement -- of other human beings as anything other than a great evil. It is true that the ending of slavery in the South was NOT Lincoln's priority, in large measure because he shared the prevailing view that its presence there was part of the compact by which the Constitution was hammered out and adopted. Put simply, the federal government had no ability to interfere in an institution -- however deplorable and inhumane -- in states where it had already existed in 1789. It is a sad fact that the South ALWAYS used the existence of slavery -- and their demands that their slaves count towards representation in the US House's membership (through the infamous 3/5 clause) -- to demand, and win, concessions from the rest of the country. This was so in the adoption of the Constitution, since without the South's votes the document could not be adopted, and it remained so throughout the first half of the 19th century when, on issue after issue, the South demanded respect for its views and a continued "hands-off" when it came to their system of chattel slavery. The breaking point -- for Lincoln and many others -- came when the South increasingly pressed for territorial expansion of their system to NEW territories and states. For many in the South, the lands to the West, Southwest, and Northwest that the US acquired in the first half of the 19th century represented an opportunity to perpetuate the dominance of slave-holding states' powers throughout the rest of the 19th century and well into the next century as well. This Lincoln would not -- and could not -- allow. Many today have been critical of Lincoln for this, as well as for his expressed non-wish -- at least before the beginning of the Civil War -- to allow equal political rights, let alone social rights, to Black people. But not only was he a man of his time -- something we who study history have to always remember (we are to tell truthfully what happened while remaining cautious about falling into judgment) -- but he also had the tremendous task of BRINGING ALONG a sufficiently large segment of the voting population to support his efforts to end slavery. I think anyone will find this course absolutely mesmerizing as well as deeply informative. And, by the way, this is one of those relatively few courses that can be deeply appreciated through audio alone, for Guelzo's voice will entrance and carry the day. Bravo to all involved!
Date published: 2023-04-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from On the mark for what I have come to expect! I am a regular customer for The Great Courses. Why, when I call to order a program I'm surprised the operator doesn't recognize my voice! I've gone to several genres from history to philosophy to religion to how to master a hand held router. I do favor history both ancient and more modern. Abraham Lincoln has been a larger than life character or me. Was anyone up to the challenges that were faced in the early 1860s? The answer was yes. No one emerges fully formed for the job that they were given. Circumstances are constantly changing and you have to adapt. The book "A team of rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin goes into some of the challenges Lincoln faced with the Civil War and its run up but doesn't give as much background as to who Lincoln was. Professor Guelzo paints a detailed picture of the background of this man who was truly the right person for the time. None of us knows the the right thing to do for a given problem: Have I considered all the facts? Do I have the right people working for me? Can I trust the systems that are in place to keep me up with all that I need to know? Is my answer right? Lincoln was weighed down with all these problems. He didn't always make the right decision, but he learned how to make decisions and how to learn from the mistakes. Prof Guelzo gets us into President Lincoln's head. The ideal of any course is to spur a desire to know more and I plan to read more about this man in the future.
Date published: 2022-11-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable. I am still enjoying Mr. Lincoln. Loving it. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2022-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent in Every Respect Dr. Guelzo is a very talented, knowledgeable and engaging speaker. The subject of the lectures could not be a more relevant and inspirational person. A fascinating narrative. One of the very best courses I've taken in several years with The Great Courses/Wondrium.
Date published: 2022-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A good, well-rounded presentation on Lincoln Mr. Lincoln is a succinct introduction to the multifaceted 16th President. While some Lincoln devotees may find it a elementary presentation, Professor Guelzo offers some unique perspectives and interpretations of the man--particularly the Calvinist influence on Lincoln, which I think he emphasizes a little too much. Nonetheless, Guelzo has an excellent, engaging style in his presentation.
Date published: 2022-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent lecturer. Well presented A deep insight into Lincoln, the man. Content was quite deep.
Date published: 2022-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lincoln or Washington-Whom Do I Admire Most? I go back and forth with to which of the two presidents, Washington or Lincoln, do we as a country owe the most. Good presentation by Professor Guelzo. I liked this course very much and, of course, I learned things about Lincoln that I did not know. I think that he truly was an honest & good man though I do not attribute it all to his fatalism. What a loss to the south after his assassination by JWB. As a retired military man, I admire Washington for sticking it out for six or more years of war, losing more battles than he won, but not going home until it was over. I hope that you offer a course on Washington.
Date published: 2022-05-27
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What made our 16th president capable of achieving his greatness? Explore this grand question with the help of award-winning Professor Allen C. Guelzo, one of the country's most distinguished Abraham Lincoln scholars. In Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln, he takes you on an insightful tour of Lincoln's life and an evaluation of how his legacy lives on today. See Lincoln through the eyes of those who knew, lived with, and worked with him. By the end of this absorbing course, you'll have expanded your knowledge of this profound man and political leader&;amp;-one whose unforgettable words, courageous ideas, and ambitious life embody the nature of democracy and the triumphant spirit of America.


Allen C. Guelzo

For Lincoln, no matter what our political persuasions, moral principle in the end is all that unites us and all that ensures that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.


Gettysburg College

Dr. Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania. Among garnering other honors, he has received the Medal of Honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution. He is a member of the National Council on the Humanities. Professor Guelzo is the author of numerous books on American intellectual history, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War era. His publication awards include the Lincoln Prize as well as the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize for two of his books-Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America–making him the first double Lincoln laureate in the history of both prizes. His critically acclaimed book, Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008. Professor Guelzo has written for The American Historical Review, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, and he has been featured on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, C-SPAN's Booknotes, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

By This Professor

America's Founding Fathers
Young Man Lincoln

01: Young Man Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born with little more than his own natural talents. His father, Thomas, was more than contented with the life of a classic Jeffersonian farmer in Kentucky. When the Lincolns moved from Indiana to Illinois in 1830, Abraham struck out on his own and never looked back....

32 min
Whig Meteor

02: Whig Meteor

Lincoln's entry into politics coincided with the emergence of a new national political party, the Whigs, founded by Henry Clay. Lincoln moved into the forefront of Whig agitation in Illinois to improve business and finance. His own business ventures, however, flopped, and in 1837 he took up the practice of law in Springfield, Illinois....

31 min
Lincoln, Law, and Politics

03: Lincoln, Law, and Politics

Through his law partner, John Todd Stuart, Lincoln met and married Mary Todd in 1842 and attached himself to the Whig elite of Springfield. He won election to Congress in 1846, but his term was undistinguished. Lincoln returned to Illinois to a life of domestic unhappiness, but substantial success as an attorney, especially in civil litigation....

29 min
The Mind of Abraham Lincoln

04: The Mind of Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln's folksiness was a shield he rarely let down. Many saw him as an introverted, slightly aloof lawyer. He disliked wanna-be aristocrats and was a tremendous reader. He believed in God, but not the God of any formal religion....

29 min
Lincoln and Slavery

05: Lincoln and Slavery

Lincoln expected that slavery would die out. Instead it experienced a tremendous revolution in profitability. In 1854, Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas opened the western territories to slave expansion through the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Lincoln reentered politics in opposition....

31 min
The Great Debates

06: The Great Debates

Lincoln joined the Republican Party and challenged Stephen A. Douglas for the Illinois senate seat in 1858. In seven open-air debates across Illinois, Douglas portrayed Lincoln as an abolitionist fanatic, and Lincoln condemned Douglas's indifference to the moral wrong of slavery. Lincoln narrowly lost the election but gained national attention....

29 min
Lincoln and Liberty, Too

07: Lincoln and Liberty, Too

After Lincoln impressed East Coast Republicans with a major address at New York's Cooper Institute, his backers stage-managed his nomination at the Republican convention in May 1860. He won the presidency by garnering almost all of the North's electoral votes....

29 min
The Uncertain President

08: The Uncertain President

When South Carolina led the Southern states in seceding from the Union, it was unclear whether Lincoln had the experience or skill to manage the situation. He responded to the South's attack on Ft. Sumter by calling out the militia, but the first battle of the Civil War, Bull Run, was a defeat for the Union army. Lincoln then turned to George McClellan as his chief strategist....

31 min
The Emancipation Moment

09: The Emancipation Moment

General McClellan was a great organizer but strategically lethargic. Lincoln concluded that he had no choice but to connect the war with the ending of slavery, over McClellan's opposition. Lincoln's original plan for emancipation had been to offer gradual buy-outs-monetary compensation to slave owners-but when these were refused by the Border States, he turned to the Emancipation Proclamation....

31 min
Lincoln's Triumph

10: Lincoln's Triumph

The Emancipation Proclamation cost Lincoln and his party dearly in the 1862 elections. He also sustained deep personal wounds in the death of his son and political tribulations from a divided cabinet, radical members of his own party, and the Democratic Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Lincoln drew on his confidence in the will of God and his shrewd powers of analyzing people and situations....

30 min
The President's Sword

11: The President's Sword

Lincoln used speeches and letters to defend his ideas, and his success was extraordinary. His gift as a communicator was matched by the gift for battlefield victory offered by Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln feared he would be defeated for reelection, but a string of Union military victories rejuvenated his fortunes....

35 min
The Dream of Lincoln

12: The Dream of Lincoln

Lincoln's Second Inaugural offered a quasi theology of the war, rebuking radicals of his own party who wanted a vengeful reconstruction of the South. But Lincoln was already beginning to attach conditions to reconstruction himself, beginning with recognition of slave emancipation and voting rights for freed slaves. These plans were tragically cut short by his murder on the night of April 14, 1865....

31 min