Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and Its Demons

Time Period
1861 to 1876
Media Type
Civil War
Politics & Government
Beverly Louise Brown

On February 22, Beverly Louise Brown delivered a Banner Lecture entitled “Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and Its Demons, A New Book by the Award-Winning Historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor,” celebrating the publication of her late sister’s book.

In this eye-opening book, Six Encounters with Lincoln: A President Confronts Democracy and Its Demons, Elizabeth Brown Pryor examines six striking and mostly unknown encounters that Abraham Lincoln had with his constituents. It is a collection of intriguing stories about a man who himself prized story-telling, and taken together they reveal his character and opinions in unexpected ways, illustrating his difficulties in managing a republic and creating a presidency. We observe him standing gracelessly mute at his first review of the U.S. Army on the eve of the Civil War. Later we find him swearing profusely at a young solider on the White House portico. He alternately pontificates or talks pigeon English to Native American chiefs, and he simply avoids most interactions with prominent women. In the last days of the war we find Lincoln visiting Richmond, where he meets an old Confederate with a menacing stick in his hand named Duff Green, who challenges his plans for the reconstruction of the nation. What this book shows most clearly is that greatness was not simply laid on Lincoln’s shoulders like a mantle but was won in fits and starts. Elizabeth Brown Pryor was tragically killed in Richmond in April 2015, just after completing the manuscript of Six Encounters with Lincoln. Her sister Beverly Louise Brown, a noted art historian, saw the book through publication and will talk about her sister, the book, and the perils and delights in finishing another author’s work. This lecture will celebrate the book’s publication by Viking in February 2017.

The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.

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