Lectures

Sentiment and Politics in 1865

Personal Responses to Lincoln’s Assassination
Sentiment and Politics in 1865

Lecture by Martha Hodes, Professor of History, New York University


Exploring the nation’s first presidential assassination on a human scale, prize-winning historian Martha Hodes is the first to delve into personal and intimate responses: of African Americans and whites, men and women, Yankees and Confederates, soldiers and civilians. Drawing on a remarkable range of diaries and letters from the spring and summer of 1865, including holdings at the Schlesinger Library, Hodes tells a story not only of shock and sorrow, but also of glee, anger, blame, and fear. Black freedom and the fate of the nation were at stake for everyone, whether they grieved or rejoiced when they heard the news.

Hodes is the author of Mourning Lincoln (Yale University Press, 2015), The Sea Captain’s Wife: A True Story of Love, Race, and War in the Nineteenth Century (W. W. Norton, 2006), one of three finalists for the Lincoln Book Prize, and White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South (Yale University Press, 1997), winner of the Allan Nevins Prize for Literary Distinction in the Writing of History. She has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Whiting Foundation. She is an elected fellow of the Society of American Historians.

Hodes will be introduced by Susan Ware AM ’73, PhD ’78, Senior Advisor to the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute. 

Copies of Mourning Lincoln are available at the Harvard Coop. 

The event is free and open to the public. A video of the lecture will be available online in early May on this site and on Harvard's YouTube channel.

 

An anonymous seamstress recorded the funeral in Washington on Wednesday, April 19, 1865, fitting the words into a circle around a list of purchases and sales for that day, which included postcards ("Card Visites") and frames. "Funeral Obsequies of Pres. Lincoln in Washington--Store closed and businesses of all kind suspended," she wrote. "The Pres. Was assassinated in his seat at Ford's Theatre--a ball pass through his brain." Credit: Anonymous account book, Anonymous Diaries and Account books, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard UniversityAn anonymous seamstress recorded the funeral in Washington on Wednesday, April 19, 1865, fitting the words into a circle around a list of purchases and sales for that day, which included postcards ("Card Visites") and frames. "Funeral Obsequies of Pres. Lincoln in Washington--Store closed and businesses of all kind suspended," she wrote. "The Pres. Was assassinated in his seat at Ford's Theatre--a ball pass through his brain." Credit: Anonymous account book, Anonymous Diaries and Account books, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University