The Lincoln Prize, awarded annually by the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute, honors the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln, the American Civil War soldier, or a subject relating to their era. The Prize is intended chiefly to encourage outstanding new scholarship, but a lifetime contribution to the study of Lincoln, or the American Civil War soldier, may qualify for the award. Each year any work that appears during the previous year may be eligible for consideration. However, facing a lean scholarly year, the Board of Trustees may request the jury to consider work from the previous two or three years.
Dr. Rable earned his doctoral and master’s degrees from Louisiana State University and his bachelor’s from Bluffton College. Prior to accepting his position at the University of Alabama he was professor of History and Political Science at Anderson University. His previous books include “The Confederate Republic: A Revolution against Politics,” “Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism” and “But There Was No Peace: The Role of Violence in the Politics of Reconstruction.” Rable is currently researching the role of religion in the Civil War.
Rable’s book was chosen from among 144 books considered for the Lincoln Prize. This year marks the first time that the prestigious Lincoln Prize for the best book on Lincoln and the Civil War era has gone to a volume about a battle. The December 1862 Union disaster at Fredericksburg, Va. was called “a black day in the calendar of the Republic” by the New York Times and prompted Lincoln himself to lament: “We are now on the brink of destruction. It appears to me the Almighty himself is against us, and I can hardly see a ray of hope.” The two armies suffered nearly 18,000 casualties in the one-day fight.
Despite the defeat, and the enormous political pressure that followed, Lincoln went on to issue the Emancipation Proclamation three weeks after the battle. Rable’s account of Fredericksburg and its history-altering aftermath considers “the mundane, the horrific, and the transcendent” in freshly demonstrating its significance, according to a statement issued by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.
The Lincoln Prizes are announced, by tradition, on Lincoln’s birthday. They will be formally presented to the winners on April 15, at a banquet at Gettysburg College. First place is accompanied by a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gauden’s life-size bust, “Lincoln the Man.” A three-member jury recommended the 2003 winners of the book awards: Lincoln Prize alumnus William C. Harris of North Carolina State University in Raleigh, chairman; Lesley Gordon of the University of Akron; and Thavolia Glymph of Duke University. Final selections were made by the Board of Trustees of the Prize.
Anderson University is a private, four-year, Christian liberal arts institution of approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, the university offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs of study in business, education and theology.