Did Abraham Lincoln own slaves? The answer is no. Nevertheless, that is the title of an upcoming lecture.
Gerald J. Prokopowicz will be speaking at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois on Friday, September 7. The lecture begins at 4 pm and is free and open to the public. He will be talking about his upcoming book, Did Lincoln Own Slaves? And Other Frequently Asked Questions about Abraham Lincoln. The book hits stores in 2008.
Much to my surprise, I have been asked if Lincoln ever owned slaves. Twenty years ago, people would have never asked such a question, but times have certainly changed. Perhaps Lerone Bennett’s Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream deserves some of the blame. Though he did not argue that Lincoln owned slaves, he challenged the public to reassess Lincoln’s view of African Americans. Similarly, recent books by Thomas Dilorenzo may have also contributed to the confusion. Again, he doesn’t argue that Lincoln owned slaves, but he encourages his readers to discard most of what they thought they knew about Lincoln. The titles of his books outline his thesis: The Real Lincoln: A New look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War and Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed to Know about Dishonest Abe.
I like the title of Prokopowicz’s lecture and book. It not only grabs my attention, but I think it speaks to some of the most troubling developments in Lincoln historiography.
If anyone attends the lecture or has seen an advance copy of the book, please send me an email and let me know what you think.