Got a chance to go and hear renown Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer at Appalachian State University a couple of nights ago. Holzer was originally scheduled to speak back in February, and one of our numerous winter snow storms kept him off the mountain. Holzer did a really good job, and spoke to a crowd of about 150 students, faculty, and a few community members (like me).
The title of Holzer’s talk was “Why Lincoln Matters—To History, To Our Presidents, and To Us.” Most of the talk centered around the “To Our Presidents” portion of the title. Holzer started out talking about how Ronald Reagan once misquoted Lincoln during a speech at a convention. Funny, he did not bring up how Obama did the same thing the other day. Oh well, the talk was good and lasted about an hour. Then came the follow-up questions, including one about the claims of some regarding North Carolina as the birthplace of Lincoln, and Holzer’s views of the recent “debate” regarding the Virginia governor’s Confederate History Month proclamation, which Holzer supports.
Then it was my turn (and I was the last question asker of the evening). My question: last year, C-Span, during the celebration of Lincoln’s birth, announced that there were 14,000 books on Lincoln: the short question is why, and the longer question, as a writer, as a historian, how do you sift through 14,000 books? Holzer, who has penned at least six Lincoln books himself, said he never really consulted anything after 1909.
Hmmm…. I’ll let you ponder that response.