Early Lincoln Biographies
The earliest biography of Lincoln was that of John Locke Scripps, written for the 1860 campaign and published by both Horace Greeley and the Chicago Press and Tribune Company. This pamphlet was primarily aimed at promoting Lincoln’s candidacy for President. After 1865, in the wake of the assassination, demand for an accurate record of Lincoln’s life and accomplishments reached a crescendo and a flood of new Lincoln biographies entered the book market.
One of the first of the new biographies was written by newspaper editor Josiah Gilbert Holland of Springfield, Massachusetts, who traveled to Illinois to interview those who had known Lincoln as a young man. Other important works were authored by those who had known Lincoln personally, including Isaac Newton Arnold, an Illinois state legislator and colleague of Lincoln, Lincoln law partner William Henry Herndon, and Ward Hill Lamon, a former Lincoln law partner and bodyguard. Lamon’s biography was disdained by Robert Todd Lincoln as pretentious, but it was also highly controversial with the general public in that it questioned Lincoln’s religious devotion. Another early work was authored by Linus Pierpont Brockett, a physician and historian, who had entered Brown with the Class of 1841 but did not graduate.
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Gift of Professor William Gammell, LLD, Class of 1831.
Reproduced from the Frederick Hill Meserve Collection of Historical Portraits and Lincolniana.