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home : arts, entertainment and events - archive : featured events February 5, 2016

7/20/2013 2:35:00 PM
Author to speak on Lincoln-Douglas debates

SPRINGFIELD — The author of a major book offering a new interpretation of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the philosophies behind them is coming to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum on July 24.

John Burt will sign copies of “Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism: Lincoln, Douglas, and Moral Conflict” at 6 p.m. and then speak at the museum’s Union Theater at 6:30.

The event is free, but reservations are required. Visit and click on “special event tickets and reservations..”

“Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism” rejects the simple idea of labeling Abraham Lincoln “right” and Stephen Douglas “wrong” in their 1858 battle for a U.S. Senate seat. Instead, it examines each man’s goals and political philosophy.

Burt concludes that Douglas was an opportunist, but one whose major purpose was to avoid war at any cost. And Lincoln opposed slavery and its expansion into new areas, but he was pragmatic enough to accept its existence at first and only slowly embrace abolition.

The New York Times review says Burt’s Lincoln “is very much a Lincoln for our time” and this book is “a work that every serious student of Lincoln will have to read.’

“This year is the 200th anniversary of Stephen Douglas’ birth, so it’s the perfect time for a book that takes a new look at him and his political differences with Lincoln,” said Eileen Mackevich, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “John Burt has written a wonderful book and will deliver a thought-provoking, entertaining evening when he visits the presidential library.”

Burt, an English professor at Brandeis University, spent 26 years researching and writing “Lincoln’s Tragic Pragmatism.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is home to an unparalleled collection of Lincoln documents and artifacts that help scholars make new discoveries about the 16th president. The institution also combines cutting-edge technology with traditional museum techniques to present Lincoln’s story to the world.

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day of the year except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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