Eric Foner Interview on Lincoln and American Slavery and Politics

Hat tip to Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory

“We know where he ends up, we know he ends up emancipating slaves, but Lincoln doesn’t know that… Lincoln’s capacity for growth is the essence of his greatness… He didn’t mind being criticized.” [Eric Foner on Lincoln]

Foner here in this interview is particularly enlightening on the practice of history and what makes for a good historian. Compare what he says with what many critics of academic historians say about the practice of history, for example Foner thinks that one’s personal values, and a commitment to historical change actually make for good historical practice. He is also critical of Obama’s prickliness toward his critics, and contrasts this with Lincoln’s openness to criticism, especially from the more radical members of his party.


About marcferguson

I teach history, including the American Civil War Era, as an Adjunct at American International College in Springfield, Ma. I also teach survey courses in U.S. history, Western Civilization, and World History, and have taught at other area colleges, including the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and Holyoke Community College. While my academic background is in European History, my interest in the American Civil War began about a decade ago. Other areas of interest include Modernism, 20th century World Thought and Culture, The Rise of the West after 1400, 19th c. American Society and Culture, Central and Eastern European History and Culture, and Local History. I have in recent years cut back my teaching drastically in order to devote more time raising my kids (15 year old twins now), including working part-time at their elementary/middle school for the past 6 years, they are now launched and off to High School, and I plan to crank up my involvement in teaching history and local history projects, particularly in light of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial.
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