Friday, September 14, 2012

Scholar Presents Fresh, Intimate Look at the Drama Behind Lincoln's Decision to Free the Slaves

CHESTERTOWN, MD— This month marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s announcing the Emancipation Proclamation. In a much-anticipated new book, historian Louis Masur chronicles the little-known political forces and behind-the-scenes intrigues that shaped – and nearly derailed – the most momentous decision that an American president has ever made.

Masur will share the little-known story of Lincoln’s backstage drama in a free public lecture Thursday, September 27, at Washington College. The talk will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge on the main campus, 300 Washington Avenue, Chestertown, and will be followed by a book signing. It is sponsored by the College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Lincoln’s Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union has just been published by Harvard University Press. The book reveals the political, moral and personal concerns that plagued Abraham Lincoln in the 100 days between September 22, 1862, when he first presented a formal draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, and New Year’s Day 1863, when he signed a much-altered final version of the executive order.

“Masur takes a pivotal moment in time and opens it up like a master watchmaker, revealing the intricate, hidden mechanisms, the tensions and balances, concealed within that turning point of American history,” said Adam Goodheart, the Starr Center’s Hodson Trust-Griswold director. “Lincoln’s Hundred Days is a finely wrought and important book.           

Masur, who is Professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University, was previously the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor in American Institutions and Values at Trinity College. His earlier books have covered topics as diverse as capital punishment, baseball’s first World Series and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” album. Masur’s essays and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times.