Programs & Events

6-Day, June 21-26: Lincoln Speaks: Words That Transformed a Nation

Due to the growing health crisis and restrictions on in-person gatherings, the Gilder Lehrman Institute will not be able to offer in-person Teacher Seminars this summer. We are working on an alternative offering for the summer. Please visit for updates.

In partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum


Michael Burlingame, Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies, University of Illnois, Springfield


This seminar, in partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, will allow participants to explore Lincoln’s life and writings in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, where they will read and discuss his speeches and letters amid the physical context in which he grew from a twenty-two-year-old “strange, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy” (as he later described himself) to a historic statesman. During his thirty years in Illinois (1831–1861), Lincoln practiced law (we will visit his office), served in the state legislature (we will visit the Old State Capitol where he participated in debates, plotted political strategy, served on committees, and delivered some of his most memorable antislavery speeches, including the 1858 House Divided address), married and raised his family (we will visit the only home he ever owned, in its restored nineteenth-century neighborhood), and where he lies buried (we will visit his tomb). In addition, we will take a field trip to the reconstructed village of New Salem (in effect his alma mater), where he spent the formative years from age twenty-two to twenty-eight. We will also visit the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, a modern interactive facility that traces his life’s trajectory from backwoods Kentucky to Ford’s Theatre. The seminar will focus on Lincoln’s intellectual, moral, psychological, and political evolution. Readings will come from his own works as well as those of leading biographers. The central themes will be the nature of his statesmanship, the origins of his political thought, the forces that shaped his personality and character, and his relevance for the twenty-first century.

Travel & Accommodations

Participants are responsible for making their own travel arrangements; the Institute will provide a $350 stipend for travel expenses. Read the policy here.

This seminar will take place at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois. Participants will be housed at a local university. By plane, Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport is linked with international gateway airports from Chicago O’Hare and Dallas-Fort Worth for daily flights. And, by train, Amtrak offers daily stops in Springfield between both Chicago and St. Louis. Greyhound Bus Lines also serves the Springfield area.


Meals may be served in a space shared by other programs. All on-campus meals will be paid for by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


Please be sure to review the Institute’s policies on independent school teacher participation and travel stipends before applying.


Email the Teacher Seminars department or call 646-366-9666.

Seminar Year: 2019-2020