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Sorry, Abe Lincoln Is Not on the Ballot

Historians in the News
tags: Abraham Lincoln, presidential history, Donald Trump, 2020 Election



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In recent weeks, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has repeatedly invoked Lincoln at his daily coronavirus briefings, suggesting that the former president would appreciate the governor’s pledge to level with his constituents, despite the grim news. “Lincoln, big believer in the American people,” Mr. Cuomo noted this month.

Mr. Cuomo’s father, Mario M. Cuomo, another three-term New York governor, was also a Lincoln fan, producing a book in 2004, with Mr. Holzer’s historical guidance, about his continuing relevance (“Why Lincoln Matters: Today More Than Ever”).

“Lincoln is always available for everyone’s use, and there’s a long history of that,” said David W. Blight, a professor of history at Yale. “Do you want a healer? There’s the healer Lincoln, which is the one Barack Obama appropriated. Or you could have Lincoln who is a military commander in chief, who would do anything to win that war, who would twist civil liberties inside out. There’s also the ambiguous Lincoln, part of what makes him so usable by everyone.”

Though Mr. Trump has long been criticized for having little sense of (or interest in) history, he and his team have at times spoken admiringly of presidents who would not necessarily figure on everyone’s Top 10 list.

He has hung a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the Oval Office, aligning himself with Jacksonian populism and declaring him “an amazing figure” in American history — looking beyond such episodes as the infamously brutal forced relocation of Native Americans.

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Read entire article at The New York Times

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