In this NewsHour discussion hosted by Jeffrey Brown, three historians with different perspectives discuss President Abraham Lincoln's legacy and President Barack Obama's affinity for him.
President Obama honored Lincoln at two ceremonies - one at the U.S. Capitol and the other at a dinner in Springfield, Illinois - and spoke on how Lincoln's legacy made his presidency possible.
Historians Richard Norton Smith, James McPherson and Adele Alexander discuss how Lincoln's presidency helped define America during the most troubled time in its history and how his legacy influences the current president.
"What Lincoln never forgot - not even in the midst of Civil War - was that, despite all that divides us - North and South, black and white - we were, at heart, one nation and one people, sharing a bond as Americans that could bend but would not break." - President Barack Obama
"He embodies so many of the things that we Americans like to think of as quintessentially ours: the fact of humble origins, the meager formal education, and yet someone who went on to write imperishable prose, someone who is at the center of the American passion play, which is the Civil War." - Richard Norton Smith, George Mason University
"And now we have Barack Obama. And I think that everybody is totally intrigued by the similar kinds of arc of history that we are perhaps imposing on the Lincoln presidency to see the extent to which there might be similarities between the Obama presidency and the Lincoln presidency." - Adele Alexander, George Washington University
1. Who was Abraham Lincoln?
2. Why is President Lincoln an important president?
1. Why do you think Mr. Obama identifies with President Lincoln?
2. Why are historians so interested in Abraham Lincoln? What about his story is interesting to you?
3. How does Abraham Lincoln embody some of the best aspects of America? Do you think too much attention is paid to just this one person in the entire Civil War drama?
4. What other presidents compare to President Lincoln?
5. What other presidents compare to President Obama?
Read the transcript: