Stephen Berry is Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era at the University of Georgia where his teaching and research focus on life and death in the nineteenth-century South. Berry is Secretary-Treasurer of the Southern Historical Association; co-director, with Claudio Saunt, of the Center for Virtual History; and co-editor, with Amy Murrell Taylor, of the UnCivil Wars series at the University of Georgia Press. He is the author or editor of eight books on the Civil War Era South.
At the age of fourteen, Abraham Lincoln wrote in one of his copybooks: "'Tis Abraham Lincoln holds the pen / He will be good but God knows when." We routinely ask our children what they want to be when they grow up. We don't ask them how they want to be. Lincoln dedicated an important part of his life to political greatness; he dedicated the more important part to ethical goodness. The first time Lincoln met with his cabinet, each cabinet member thought himself a better man than Lincoln. A few months later, Secretary of State William Seward admitted to his wife with the flatness of fact: “The President is the best of us.” And indeed he was. In this lecture, Berry focuses on the moral biography of the sixteenth president of the United States and how his ethical life changed the nation forever.