Author: Josiah Gilbert Holland (1866)

Introduction written by Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Department 1

Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



"Soon after the assassination of President Lincoln in April 1865, newspaper editor Josiah Gilbert Holland traveled to Illinois to talk with people who had known Abraham Lincoln “back when.” In 1866 Holland published the earliest full-scale life of the fallen leader. A great popular success, Holland’s biography introduced American readers who were hungry for personal information about Lincoln’s early life to some of the most famous and enduring Lincoln stories. From Holland the reader learned about Lincoln making restitution for a ruined book, the railsplitter earning his first silver dollar, the millhorse’s kick to his head, the wrestling match with Jack Armstrong. Holland relayed homey stories about the young Illinois legislator and lawyer and poignant ones about the president during the dark days of the Civil War. Holland was one of the earliest biographers of Lincoln to insist that Lincoln had always opposed slavery and had planned consistently for emancipation. Most debatable, from the viewpoint of some later historians, Holland demonstrated that Lincoln was “eminently a Christian President.” To understand the sixteenth president and the making of his public image, it is necessary to begin with Holland’s Life of Abraham Lincoln." From the publisher


Attached is the introduction to Dr. Allen C. Guelzo's book, Holland's Life of Abraham Lincoln.

Required Publisher's Statement

Reproduced from Holland’s Life of Abraham Lincoln by Josiah G. Holland, with an introduction by Allen C. Guelzo, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 1998 by the University of Nebraska Press.

Original version is available from the publisher at:,672363.aspx