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Abraham Lincoln: Satesman, Lawyer

February 12, 2009

The Biddle Law Library has many interesting older books related to Abraham Lincoln, who was born on this day 200 years ago.


One I came across in our Rare Books Collection.  Entitled Lincolniana: In Memoriam, this book is an anthology of speeches given right after the tragic assassination of our 16th President.  Although its 1865 publication date would normally not make it a candidate to be housed in our climate-controlled rare books vault–the cutoff is usually 1850–there were only 250 copies of this book published.  The deckled edges of Lincolniana’s pages are reminiscent of printing practices that were common in the 1800s.  I particularly enjoyed the reference in the Preface note to the recently slain “Martyr-President,” which suggests how devastating Lincoln’s assassination was for some Americans.



As most of us know, before Lincoln became a politician, he was a lawyer.  The skills of oration he honed in the courtroom were put to good use as he embarked on a political career.  Lincoln first captured the nation’s attention in his debates over slavery with Stephen A. Douglas in 1858.  Just two years later, these debates were published, bringing even greater notoriety to Lincoln.


The above book is in our Lewis collection, which comprises many of our older books that are still available for public circulation.  Dispite the damange suffered by some of the pages, it remains a very readable, and compelling, book.  I expecially admire the title page’s letter-spacing, which was a common typographical convention in the 19th century. 

In addition to the debates, the volume even includes a compilation of correspondence between Lincoln and Douglas that the two exchanged prior to their famous debates.  The book remains an interesting record of Lincoln, foreshadowing the greatness that was to come.

Of course, we aren’t the only ones celebrating Lincoln’s birthday by showcasing some special collections about him.  The Library of Congress has unveiled an impressive collection of images through the photograph-sharing site Flickr, bringing the iconic countenance of Lincoln into the digital age.

If you are interested in browsing either of the above books, please contact me.