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January 29, 2008

Civil War Scholar James McPherson Will Speak on Abraham Lincoln Feb. 4

Lafayette’s Lives of Liberty lecture series will resume with a talk entitled “Tried by War, Decided by Victory: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief” by historian James M. McPherson at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, in the Williams Center for the Arts.

Free and open to the public, the Lives of Liberty lectures are part of the College’s yearlong celebration of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette.

On Monday, Feb. 11, Simon Schama will deliver a speech entitled “Remembering the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 200 Years On: British Eloquence and American Silence” at 6 p.m. in Colton Chapel.

Remaining Lives of Liberty speakers will be Gloria Steinem (March 4) and Salman Rushdie (April 3)

McPherson’s talk will describe and analyze how Lincoln learned the job of commander in chief through trial and error and forged both a national and a military strategy to win the Civil War. A major focus of the lecture will be on the issues of slavery and emancipation, with freedom for slaves becoming part of Lincoln’s strategy for winning the war.

McPherson is a noted American Civil War historian and author. In October, he was the first recipient of the $100,000 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for lifetime achievement in military writing.
As the George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University, McPherson is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning work Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988). For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War (1997) won the Lincoln Prize, which is presented to the best non-fiction historical work of the year on the American Civil War. His book, The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction (1964), received an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for contributions to the appreciation and understanding of race and culture.

He is the author of more than 10 other books. His latest work, This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War, was published earlier this year.

McPherson served as president of the American Historical Association in 2003 and is a member of the editorial board of Encyclopaedia Britannica. In 1991, he was appointed by the United States Senate to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, which determined the major battle sites, evaluated their conditions, and then recommended strategies for their preservation.

McPherson shares his name with James B. McPherson, a major general who served under William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1963 and his B.A. from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1958.

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