The Lincoln Miracle wins Lincoln Forum Book Prize

Edward Achorn’s The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention That Changed History has won the Harold Holzer Lincoln Forum Book Prize for the best book about Abraham Lincoln published in 2023.

Thomas A. Horrocks, chair of the Lincoln Forum Book Prize Committee, presented Mr. Achorn with the prize at the Forum’s gathering on Nov. 18 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

“Achorn presents a brilliantly written, riveting account of the 1860 Republican convention,” Dr. Horrocks said, in announcing the prize. That convention nominated Abraham Lincoln as president, though he was the darkest of dark horses.

Dr. Horrocks called the book a “page-turner,” adding, “I admit I could not put this book down, even though I knew how it ends.”

He said The Lincoln Miracle “places the reader in the cigar-smoke-filled hotel rooms of party movers and shakers and on the raucous convention floor, introducing us to Lincoln’s rivals, and especially his convention managers, who worked the key state delegations and made the essential deals to achieve Lincoln’s nomination.”

Dr. Horrocks argued that the book makes a significant contribution to American history. “The 1860 Republican convention was one of the most important — if not the most important — in our nation’s history, and Ed Achorn has given us the book the convention deserves.”

The Forum created the prize to honor outstanding scholarship on the life and career of Abraham Lincoln published in the year preceding the presentation of this award.

The Book Prize Committee is composed of Michelle Krowl, Ph.D., Daniel R. Weinberg, Christian McWhirter, Ph.D., and Dr. Horrocks. The Atlantic Monthly Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, published Achorn’s acclaimed Lincoln books The Lincoln Miracle and Every Drop of Blood.

How One Week in Chicago Changed Abraham Lincoln’s Life—and the Fate of the United States

Edward Achorn on the Miraculous Nomination of an Illinois Lawyer

History has a way of deceiving us. We know how the story turns out. In focusing on the steps that led to a result, we can’t help but form the impression that the outcome was inevitable.

We forget that the people in the middle of the most momentous events in our history had no idea what would happen.

That is why I like suspending the usual viewpoint of history from 30,000 feet up and taking events down to ground level. In my latest book, The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention That Changed History, that means the floor of the Wigwam, a freshly built, massive auditorium of fragrant, unfinished wood, and in the crowded, smoky, tobacco-juice-stained saloons and hotel rooms of Chicago during one week in May 1860.

We find there a story unfolding so astonishing—and so crucial to the ultimate survival of the United States, and the destruction of slavery—that some who were there thought the invisible hand of the Almighty shaped the outcome. I consider what happened that week a miracle.

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Tearing down the Great Emancipator

By Edward Achorn

The war on Abraham Lincoln continues.

San Francisco’s school district has opted to strip Abraham Lincoln’s name from a high school, evidently because (in the view of some activists) he did not do enough to protect Native Americans while a civil war was tearing the nation apart.

Though Lincoln was instrumental in freeing 4 million black slaves, he was also, it seems, among the presidents who failed to do enough to demonstrate that black Americans matter.

“Lincoln, like the presidents before him and most after, did not show through policy or rhetoric that Black lives ever mattered to them outside of human capital and as casualties of wealth building,” Jeremiah Jeffries, the chair of San Francisco United School District’s School Names Advisory Committee said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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The best Christmas movie ever

By Edward Achorn

In 1975, Jean Shepherd observed: “Can you imagine 4,000 years passing, and you’re not even a memory? Think about it, friends. It’s not just a possibility. It’s a certainty.”

If you’re asking “Who’s Jean Shepherd?,” you’re proving his point.

Shepherd, who died in 1999, was a big-time radio star from the 1950s to 1970s, and a “hip” Playboy writer (he did the magazine’s interview with the Beatles at the height of the mania).

Does anyone remember anymore what Playboy — or even a magazine — was?

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Remembering John: a strange and brilliant man

By Edward Achorn

Forty years ago, on December 8, 1980, I was sitting in front of a computer in a newsroom, working on a story about a local meeting I had covered. A friend who knew I loved the Beatles yelled at me to check out the Associated Press alert.

“John Lennon wounded in New York shooting.”

Quickly, there was a follow-up: “John Lennon dead.”

I went home about 2 a.m. Then, finding it hard to do anything else, I got in my car, drove back to work, and wrote a column about what John Lennon had meant to me. It wound up on the front page.

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How I terrified my wild turkeys

By Edward Achorn

Several years ago, I moved from the suburbs to a more rural area of woods and farms. I set up in an 1840s-era house with a barn on five acres of land. Old stone walls run around the property. A river across the street wends its way 11 miles to the sea. Down the road, where an 18th-century mill once stood, is a lovely little waterfall.

At times I am wont to see a doe and fawn in the back yard. Seven years ago, I was visited routinely by a flock of wild turkeys who rooted through the leaves as they made their way from the back to the front lawn (see above).

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Masking vital COVID-19 data

By Edward Achorn

Governments are instituted for the purpose of serving the public interest, not for advancing bureaucrats’ fetishes and goals. As Abraham Lincoln argued in his Gettysburg Address, the Union dead gave their lives so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Our grave responsibility as citizens is to protect that system of self-government.

In Rhode Island, the administration of Governor Gina Raimondo has proved itself shockingly contemptuous of the public in refusing to share vital information about COVID-19 tests.

Dr. Andrew Bostom, a Brown medical professor and epidemiologist, has been attempting to obtain data underlying the tests, with a hope of determining how serious the threat is. What could be more important in today’s atmosphere of crisis?

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How elections in America are stolen

By Edward Achorn

The traditional method of stealing close elections in America is to count the votes after the election, determine the number of ballots needed to win, and flood the ballot boxes with a greater number of dubious or fraudulent ballots.

Lyndon Baines Johnson complained he lost a special election for Senate in 1941 by that method.

He was admonished by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a big supporter.

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The numbers don’t support panic

By Edward Achorn

During the last several days, politicians and the news media have been pushing hard on a COVID-19 narrative. Americans, they suggest, should be terrified of rising “cases” of the virus.

In Rhode Island, Governor Gina Raimondo proclaimed that field hospitals might have to be opened, though standard hospitals never came close to being overrun, and her experts’ projections last spring were preposterously inflated.

The governor also declared that social gatherings of more than 10 people are now verboten. She, further, barred parents from attending their children’s school sports events.

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Re-elect Speaker Mattiello

By Edward Achorn

For more than 20 years, I was an editorial-pages editor at The Providence Journal. I worked hard to maintain the newspaper’s great tradition of service to the public, which dated back to 1829, as a responsible voice advocating for the people of Rhode Island.

That voice has been eliminated as part of the newspaper industry’s reaction to dire financial problems. As former longtime publisher Howard Sutton noted, Rhode Island has suffered a painful blow in losing the Journal’s ability to speak out boldly and offer informed perspective on issues confronting the state. Separated from news coverage, we weighed in on sustaining good government, combating political corruption, promoting the welfare of the people, and defending the First Amendment and other constitutional rights.

The Journal for well over a century also made important endorsements. Over the last two elections, it urged the re-election of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, a Democrat from Cranston.

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