Nationally renowned historian and journalist Richard Brookhiser — senior editor of the National Review, a respected voice of the conservative movement and author of biographies of Washington, Hamilton and, now, Lincoln — will speak Tuesday evening, Oct. 6, in a free public lecture at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Brookhiser’s topic is “Founders’ Son: A Life of Lincoln,” which is the title of his 2014 book delving into the extent to which Abraham Lincoln’s devotion to America’s founding principles informed his most decisive actions as president including the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation.
His talk begins at 7 p.m. in the Christie Theatre on the lower level of the University Union located on the UW-Green Bay campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive.
The program opens the 2015-16 edition of the University’s Historical Perspectives Lecture Series. Brookhiser’s visit coincides with the series’ 30th anniversary, the University’s celebration of 50 years since its founding, and the 150th anniversary year since Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.
Brookhiser concedes that previous biographers have noted the 16th president’s stated admiration for America’s Revolutionary Era founders, but only in passing. He believes the connections deserve more attention as foundational to Lincoln’s greatness.
“Instead of being a Lincoln scholar looking back to the man’s roots,” Brookhiser recently told one interviewer, “I am the author of eight books on the founders looking ahead to their greatest heir, and so I see those connections more clearly.”
Brookhiser began writing for William F. Buckley’s National Review in 1970, at the age of 15 (a piece about antiwar protests at his high school). After earning his bachelor’s degree from Yale he turned down acceptance to that university’s law school to join the staff full-time in 1977. For a short time he wrote speeches for Vice President George H.W. Bush during the Reagan administration, before returning to journalism. His columns have appeared in The New York Observer, Time, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among others.
As a noted historian, Brookhiser has been a frequent guest on national television programs including PBS’ “Bill Moyers Journal” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with John Stewart” and “The Colbert Report.” In 2009 he was featured on Moyers’ show alongside UW-Green Bay Prof. Harvey J. Kaye, a fellow historian and student of the Founding Fathers, and a nationally known biographer of Thomas Paine. Kaye invited Brookhiser to guest lecture at UW-Green Bay, an invitation that resulted in the latter’s October 2012 presentation on James Madison.
An award-winning professor of Democracy and Justice Studies and well-connected nationally with prominent historians and political analysts, Kaye founded the Historical Perspectives Lecture Series in 1985 as a way to get his students and others up close with leading thinkers in their fields.
The first speaker was historian Christopher Hill of Oxford University. In subsequent years, renowned British labor historians including Victor Kiernan and Dorothy and E.P. Thompson visited Green Bay. Notables including Frances Fox Piven, Cass Sunstein and national columnists both liberal and conservative —E.J. Dionne, Brookhiser, Michael Novak, Joe Conason, Eric Alterman and John Nichols, among others — have made appearances, as well. Kaye says the promise of a weekend in Green Bay, perhaps a trip to Lambeau Field or Door County, a home-cooked meal or two (many of the guests stay at the Kaye family residence) and a chance to take the pulse of Midwestern students and others on issues of the day are draws for the visitors.