Distinguished Lecturers
Allen C. Guelzo

Allen C. Guelzo

Allen Carl Guelzo is the Thomas W. Smith Distinguished Research Scholar in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and teaches in both the History and Politics Departments. He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (1999) and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (2004), both of which won the Lincoln Prize, as well as Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America (2008); a volume of essays, Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas (2009); and Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (2009). He also authored Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012); Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (2013), which won a third Lincoln Prize and the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History; Lincoln: An Intimate Portrait (2014); Redeeming the Great Emancipator (2016); Reconstruction: A Concise History (2018); and Robert E. Lee: A Life (2021). Guelzo's most recent books are Our Ancient Faith: Lincoln, Democracy and the American Experiment (2024) and Voices from Gettysburg: Letters, Papers and Memoirs from the Greatest Battle of the Civil War (2024).
With Patrick Allitt and Gary W. Gallagher, he team-taught The Teaching Company’s new edition of its American history series; his courses on Abraham Lincoln, American intellectual history, the American Revolution, and great history writers are also available on DVD.

NEW IN 2024: Our Ancient Faith: Lincoln, Democracy, and the American Experiment (Penguin Random House)

NEW IN 2024: Voices from Gettysburg: Letters, Papers and Memoirs from the Greatest Battle of the Civil War (Kensington Books)

OAH Lectures by Allen C. Guelzo

Three pivotal days in 1863 – July 1st through July 3rd – marked the beginning of the end of the Civil War.  In this talk based on his 2024 book, Guelzo presents an intimate oral history of the Civil War’s turning point from research derived from a treasure trove of powerful, rare, and original documents. The "voices" include a Union staff officer, a Confederate amputee,  a sympathetic Northern woman, a Union prisoner-of-war, Union colonels and Confederate generals, a drummer boy, and a fearful college student. These original maps, personal letters, excerpts from forgotten memoirs, and more never-before-published documents offer an unprecedented narrative of the Great Rebellion and the impetus for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

This lecture is based on Guelzo's 2024 book. Abraham Lincoln grappled with the greatest crisis of democracy that has ever confronted the United States. While many books have been written about his temperament, judgment, and steady hand in guiding the country through the Civil War, Our Ancient Faith captures the president’s firmly held belief that democracy was the greatest political achievement in human history. In this talk, Guelzo discusses Lincoln’s actions on civil liberties and his views on race, and explains why his vision for the role of government would have made him a pivotal president even if there had been no Civil War. 

Reconstruction has been variously interpreted as an a reprehensible act of sectional oppression, as a failed experiment in racial egalitarianism, or as an unfinished work of class revolution. Its participants -- those who promoted it and those who opposed it -- saw it in very different terms, as a "pure" bourgeois revolution, in which a free labor economy was to erase a feudal oligarchy. Unhappily, the oligarchy won, pacing the way for eighty years of racial and economic injustice.

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