Stacy Pratt McDermott's new book, "The Jury in Lincoln's America,"
demonstrates how central the law was for people who lived in Abraham
Lincoln's America. McDermott draws from a rich collection of legal
records, docket books, county histories and surviving newspapers to
reveal the enormous power jurors wielded over the litigants and to
show the character of their communities.
According to the 1860
census, Springfield and Sangamon County comprised an ethnically and
racially diverse population of settlers from Northern and Southern
states, representing both urban and rural mid-19th-century America.
It was in these counties that Lincoln developed his law practice,
handling more than 5,200 cases in a legal career that spanned nearly
McDermott is assistant director and associate editor of the
Papers of Abraham Lincoln and co-editor of "The Papers of Abraham
Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases and The Law Practice of Abraham
Christian M. McWhirter's "Battle Hymns: The Power and Popularity
of Music in the Civil War" analyzes the many ways music influenced
both blacks and whites, North and South, during the years
surrounding the Civil War.
Music was everywhere during the Civil War. Tunes could be heard
ringing out from parlor pianos, thundering at political rallies and
setting the rhythms of military and domestic life. With literacy
still limited, music was an important vehicle for communicating
ideas about the war, and it had a lasting impact in the decades that
followed. McWhirter gauges the popularity of the most prominent
songs and examines how Americans, including Lincoln, used them. The
author returns music to its central place in American life during
the nation's greatest crisis.
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McWhirter is an assistant editor with The Papers of Abraham
Lincoln, working at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Daniel W. Stowell, director and editor of the Lincoln papers
project, said of his colleagues' work: "These new volumes
demonstrate the range and depth of talent the project employs.
McDermott's and McWhirter's volumes are important contributions to
the study of the era in which Lincoln lived, and their research
enhances their ability to understand and contextualize the wide
assortment of documents we are editing in the Papers of Abraham
The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is a long-term documentary editing
project dedicated to identifying, imaging, transcribing, annotating
and publishing all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during
his lifetime (1809-1865). The project is administered through the
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and is co-sponsored
by the Center for State Policy and Leadership at the University of
Illinois Springfield and by the Abraham Lincoln Association.
[Text from file received from
the Illinois Historic