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home : news : state news free January 16, 2018

1/8/2018 10:26:00 AM
'Lincoln's Sense of Humor' author featured at annual banquet
February 11 - 12 Lincoln Symposium to feature accounts of African Americans who knew Lincoln, and the real Mary Lincoln

SPRINGFIELD — The author of the new book Lincoln's Sense of Humor will be the featured speaker at the annual Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium Banquet on Monday, February 12 in Springfield. Four Lincoln authors and historians will highlight the Abraham Lincoln Symposium February 11 – 12, which will feature accounts of African Americans who knew Lincoln, and “Mary Lincoln for the Ages – she is not the woman we think she is.”

Richard Carwardine, the Symposium Banquet speaker, is an Oxford University scholar who won the 2004 Lincoln Prize for his biography Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power. According to Carwardine's newest book, Lincoln's Sense of Humor, demonstrates how Lincoln was the first president to make storytelling, jokes, and laughter tools of the office. The book shows the variety, complexity, and ethical dimension of Lincoln’s humor and highlights the political risks Lincoln ran in telling jokes while the nation was engaged in a bloody Civil War.

The Symposium Banquet, held to observe the 209th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, will be held at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel in downtown Springfield. A reception starts at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $85 each and can be obtained online at or by calling (866) 865-8500.

The banquet is one of many activities scheduled each year to commemorate Lincoln's birthday. The annual Abraham Lincoln Association-Benjamin Thomas Symposium begins Sunday, February 11 at 6 p.m. in the Old State Capitol Hall of Representatives with a free presentation by author and Lincoln historian Guy Fraker of Bloomington, who will speak about his new book, Looking for Lincoln in Illinois: A Guide to Lincoln's Eighth Judicial Circuit.

The Symposium resumes at 11 a.m. Monday, February 12 at the Old State Capitol where Northwestern University professor Kate Masur will speak about John E. Washington, who in 1942 became the first African American to publish a book on Lincoln, They Knew Lincoln. Masur has written the introduction to the forthcoming reprint of the book that describes African Americans who knew the Lincolns when they were in the White House. Michael Burlingame, professor at University of Illinois Springfield, will speak on other African-Americans in Washington, DC who knew Lincoln.

The Thomas F. Schwartz Symposium luncheon, which begins at 1 p.m. on Monday, February 12 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, features Lincoln family expert Jason Emerson, who will discuss “Mary Lincoln for the Ages: She is not the woman we think she is.” Emerson's new book is Lincoln in Love: Poetry by, for, and about Mary Lincoln, and his luncheon talk will include some themes from the book. The luncheon is $30 per person and reservations can be made at or by calling (866) 865-8500.

A roundtable discussion featuring all four Symposium speakers will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Presidential Library followed by book signing.

Bob Willard, a retired business executive and long-time Lincoln enthusiast and collector, is slated to take over as President of the Abraham Lincoln Association during the Symposium Banquet. Kathryn Harris of Springfield is concluding her two-year term as President.

The Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium is co-sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the University of Illinois Springfield, and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. For more information about the Abraham Lincoln Association, visit

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