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Presidential historian to speak at Lincoln Birthday Banquet

Nigel Hamilton
Nigel Hamilton

Prominent Presidential historian and author Nigel Hamilton will be the featured speaker at the Abraham Lincoln Association Birthday Banquet on Saturday, February 17 in Springfield.

Hamilton is the author of an acclaimed three-volume history of Franklin D. Roosevelt as a commander in chief during World War II, and his Springfield speech is entitled “Roosevelt and Lincoln -- Presidents at War.” He has also written a trilogy of biographies about British World War II leader Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Hamilton is the author of a two-volume Bill Clinton biography and of Reckless Youth, a portrait of the young John F. Kennedy.

His Roman-history-inspired American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush explores three-quarters of a century of the U.S. Presidency. Hamilton’s banquet speech will draw in part upon his work in progress, a dual biography of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

Four renowned Lincoln authors and historians will highlight the free Benjamin P. Thomas Symposium earlier in the day, which will feature discussions on Abraham Lincoln and Majority Rule, Lincoln and the Bible, the Abraham Lincoln – General George McClellan Conflict, and Civil War General Benjamin Butler.

The annual Lincoln Birthday Symposium and Banquet, usually held on February 12 on Lincoln’s actual birthday, is being celebrated on February 17 to take advantage of the three-day Presidents’ Day weekend.

The event, held this year to observe the 215th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, will take place at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in downtown Springfield. A reception starts at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $95 each and can be obtained online at www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org, by calling (217) 546-2656 (217-LINCOLN), or by email to KaySmith.ala@gmail.com.

The banquet is one of many activities scheduled each year to commemorate Lincoln's birthday. The Abraham Lincoln Association's annual Benjamin P. Thomas Symposium will also be held on Saturday, February 17, beginning at 10 a.m. at the hotel.

The free presentations begin with James H. Read, Professor of Political Science at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University of Minnesota. His new book is Sovereign of a Free People: Abraham Lincoln, Majority Rule, and Slavery.

The next session, which begins at 10:45 a.m., will feature Gordon Leidner, who has written on Lincoln's effectiveness as a transformational leader. In the new Abraham Lincoln and the Bible, Leidner continues to examine that leadership, focusing on how Lincoln was changed by the Bible and used scripture to inspire the northern people to make sacrifices in order to eliminate slavery.

The Thomas F. Schwartz Symposium Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel, when the featured speaker will be Elizabeth Leonard, the co-winner of the 2012 Lincoln Prize for her book on Joseph Holt as Lincoln’s Judge Advocate General. Leonard’s new book is a much-discussed revision of, and addition to, our knowledge about Civil War General Benjamin Butler.

 The final program, to follow the luncheon, will be presented at 1:15 p.m. by George C. Rable, Professor Emeritus at the University of Alabama. His seven books on the Civil War era include Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!, winner of the 2003 Lincoln Prize. Rable will address his 2023 book, Conflict of Command: George McClellan, Abraham Lincoln, and the Politics of War.

 A roundtable discussion led by Prof. Michael Burlingame, Lincoln author and distinguished professor of history at the University of Illinois Springfield, will follow. All four speakers, plus Hamilton and Burlingame, will sign their books from 3 to 4 p.m. at the hotel.

The Symposium talks and roundtable discussion are free and open to the public. Lunch will be offered, and lunch reservations are required. The luncheon is $45 per person and reservations can be made at www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org or by calling (217) 546-2656 (217-LINCOLN). The reservation deadline for the banquet or symposium lunch is February 1.

 The Symposium is named for Benjamin P. Thomas (1902-1956), the renowned Lincoln biographer and one-time Executive Secretary of The Abraham Lincoln Association. The symposium is supported by a generous gift of Thomas's daughter, Sarah Thomas, and her family to The Abraham Lincoln Association Endowment Fund. For more information about the Abraham Lincoln Association, please visit www.abrahamlincolnassociation.org.

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