Abraham Lincoln and American Values Resource Page

Abraham Lincoln was the only president faced with literally reuniting the United States. In that process, he redefined what American unity should mean for all of us. In charting new directions for the nation, Lincoln drew on his own hard-won wisdom, his political savvy, his moral code and also his own sense of theology. In his 1865 Second Inaugural, Lincoln pleaded with Americans to hold “malice toward none” and quoted the Gospel of Matthew: “Let us judge not, that we be not judged.”

THIS RESOURCE PAGE is  your easy guide to finding the most interesting material for your own personal reading—and for sharing with discussion groups or classes.



Many Americans across the U.S. call the annual period leading up to Thanksgiving the “Season of Gratitude.”

Grassroots efforts to promote a culturally and religiously diverse celebration under this inclusive name has been unfolding since 2013, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s declaration of the first annual Thanksgiving for Americans.

Here’s an example: The State University of New York College of Brockport chose “Season of Gratitude” as the name for its annual Holiday Helping Hand campaign (a major drive to collect resources for needy family). Brockport officials found Season of Gratitude more inclusive of Americans’ many different traditions.

Wondering what you will cook for your Thanksgiving dinner? There’s a Season of Gratitude Pinterest page with some yummy recipes.

5 TIPS ABOUT PREACHING ON ABRAHAM LINCOLN: Whatever you choose to say about our 16th president, Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomver provides an overview of key themes to keep in mind while preaching. He debunks the myth that Lincoln didn’t like preachers. (Lincoln loved them.) And, based on his many years of teaching and writing about the 16th president, Duncan shares insights into capturing the great man’s message.

‘THANKSGIVING,’ A SAMPLE SERMON ON LINCOLN: Duncan Newcomer also provides this sample sermon with a more focused Thanksgiving message, drawing on themes from the Bible and from Lincoln’s wisdom.

‘CAPTAIN IN THE STORM,’ SAMPLE SERMON ON LINCOLN: Duncan Newcomer provides a masterful sermon on the life and legacy of Lincoln near the occasion of the holiday he inaugurated: Thanksgiving. As you read this sermon, you may also want to read our texts of Walt Whitman’s two powerful tributes to Lincoln: O Captain! My Captain! (Whitman’s most popular poem in his own lifetime and a partial inspiration behind Duncan’s text) as well as Whitman’s longer When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.

WHAT WOULD LINCOLN SAY ABOUT AMERICAN VALUES TODAY? Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer explores Lincoln’s life and writing on the 10 core values documented in Dr. Wayne Baker’s new book United America.

BEST BOOKS on ABRAHAM LINCOLN & THE CIVIL WAR: ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm and Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer bring you recommendations of books that will warm the heart of any history buff. What’s more, the reviews themselves are full of intriguing details about the era. Enjoy!

PRAYER FROM LINCOLN FOR THANKSGIVING: Drawing on the words of our 16th president, we present this prayer you can share. In Lincoln’s words, it calls again for unity in our all-too-divided times.

LINCOLN’S PROCLAMATION OF A NATIONAL THANKSGIVING: We provide the entire text of Lincoln’s moving 1863 proclamation, plus we explain the lobbying effort of influential journalist Sara J. Hale.

See the Video! IMPORTANCE OF THE PROCLAMATION: Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer offers a short video—which you are free to share with others—explaining how the Thanksgiving proclamation reflects Lincoln’s most important values.


HISTORIAN STEPHEN PROTHERO PUTS LINCOLN IN PERSPECTIVE: This in-depth interview with Dr. Stephen Prothero explains more about the genius of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his declaration of the first national Thanksgiving.

JIM WALLIS ON LINCOLN: Jim Wallis’s book, On God’s Side, shows the Lincoln Memorial on its front cover and in this in-depth interview with Jim, he talks about the importance of Lincoln’s vision of a common ground in America.

LINCOLN, A COMPLEX MAN OF FAITH: Many writers have tried to explain Lincoln’s relationship to religion. This column is a fascinating overview of the historical evidence by Edward McNulty, the noted faith-and-film writer. McNulty prepared this historical column to accompany his film review of Steven Spielberg’s 2012 movie, Lincon.

LINCOLN’S SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS: We have the entire text of the address, plus we briefly explain the historical context—and we have the Bible references on which Lincoln drew when writing this message that includes the famous line “with malice toward none.”

LINCOLN’S BEARD: In 2010, columnist Stephanie Fenton posted this look at the 150th anniversary of the little girl’s letter that inspired Lincoln to grow his beard.

‘WHEN LILACS LAST IN THE DOORYARD BLOOMED’: You’ll find the entire text of Walt Whitman’s haunting elegy, penned after Lincoln was killed, plus related links.


LINCOLN & MELANCHOLY COLUMN: After five years at the helm of the OurValues project, sociologist Dr. Wayne Baker looked back at readership patterns and discovered this column about Lincoln’s “melancholy” was an all-time favorite. That was part of a week-long OurValues series on the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

DUNCAN NEWCOMER AND ‘LINCOLN LEGACY‘: The popularity of that early 2013 series of Emancipation columns led us to invite Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer to write an entire week-long series on the “Lincoln Legacy.” That wide-ranging series includes one unusual column comparing Lincoln to Marilyn Monroe. Duncan also helped to write this fascinating column about the changing nature of Lincoln’s face throughout his presidency.

SECOND GREATEST PRESIDENT: In 2012, OurValues also reported on a Gallup Poll ranking Lincoln as America’s second greatest president out of 44.


BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS: Daniel Buttry’s inspiring book is packed with profiles of courageous peacemakers from around the world. Included in that book are stories about abolitionists Frederick Douglass, Thomas Clarkson and other heroes crusading for racial equality throughout history.


LINCOLN, THE STEVEN SPIELBERG MOVIE: Faith-and-film writer Edward McNulty not only reviews the film—he also provides discussion questions for your personal reflection or small group.

LINCOLN AND LES MISERABLES: Lincoln scholar Duncan Newcomer prepared this much-discussed column describing Lincoln’s personal connections with Victor Hugo and the similarities in themes between the president’s life and Hugo’s famous novel. Start with Newcomer’s column and then you’ll want to follow the link to the closely related column written by Edward McNulty about the best film versions of Les Miserables.

PBS’s THE ABOLITIONISTS: Starting long before the Civil War, this terrific three-hour miniseries tells the story of the moral and religious campaign that culminated in the Civil War. Our review explains why everyone should see this series—and why the film works well in sparking small-group discussion.

(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion, spirituality, values and interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)


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