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Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



Abe Lincoln was a regulation cutter. Who would’ve known that?”

That line in a speech on December 8 by President Trump sent a number of pundits flocking to their history textbooks for fact-checking, especially after he followed it with the claim that, based on the numbers, he had actually exceeded Lincoln’s first-year total. “That’s pretty good for 10 months.”

What the pundits found was largely what they looked for. Blue State Daily’s Matthew Slivan smirked that “Trump likes to conjure comparisons to Abraham Lincoln,” but “the truth is what you’d expect: Trump is a blowhard.” Another reporter rang up former Democratic activist and chair of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Harold Holzer, who obligingly contributed the response, “If we hear a loud rumbling noise this Christmas season, it’s Lincoln rolling over in his grave.”

On the other hand, sending pundits to do historical research is like sending short-order cooks to do Julia Child. The results may be edible, but they won’t look much like what the recipe described. [excerpt]


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