Unlike other biographers of Lincoln, Vernon Burton chose not to separate Lincoln’s southern origins from his beliefs.
Lincoln had a strong sense of honor, a trait he derived from his southern upbringing. He believed the preservation of the Union was a matter of honor. Where Lincoln differed, however, was in the meaning of liberty.
Lincoln said during the during the 1864 Great Maryland Fair in Baltimore that "the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor." For Lincoln, personal freedom, grounded in the rule of law, was a right of all.
Lincoln asserted this belief during a time when the nation was struggling with its identity as a new republic- Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
O. Vernon Burton
O. Vernon Burton is a Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Illinois.
He also is a former Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center. Additionally, Burton is the author of The Age of Lincoln published in 2007.
James M. McPherson
James McPherson is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. He was the president of the American Historical Association in 2003, and is a member of the editorial board of Encyclopedia Britannica.
Born in Valley City, North Dakota, he graduated from St. Peter High School, and he received his Bachelor of Arts at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota) in 1958, and his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in 1963. Currently he resides in Princeton, New Jersey, and is married with one child.