Once you visit historic Gettysburg, it is always with you. That is especially the case for Jared Peatman ’02, who recently released The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, a book that explores the ways the speech has been invoked and used – positively and negatively – over the past 150 years.
“I started visiting the Gettysburg battlefield with my family at the age of 12. We made the trek down from Maine every year, sometimes twice. As a freshman in high school I knew I wanted to come to Gettysburg for college,” said Peatman, a history major and secondary education minor who was an officer in the Civil War Club and Alpha Phi Omega, and played several intramural sports.
Peatman was a research assistant for Gabor Boritt, former professor and director emeritus of the Civil War Institute, for four years, and notes that Boritt was was a major influence on his academic career.
“I came to Gettysburg College because of my interest in the battle, but by working with Dr. Boritt, I also became fascinated with Abraham Lincoln,” he said. “My favorite class was The American Civil War on Film with Professor Ryan, who has been very supportive over the years. Dr. Michael Birkner has also stayed in touch and been a continuing mentor. I had so many wonderful professors that it feels unfair to point out only these few.”
We recently had a chance to catch up with Peatman on The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Find out more about the book, and why it is a “must read” during this sesquicentennial year of the Gettysburg Address.
In a few sentences, can you give a high-level summary of The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address? What makes this publication unique among the countless other books about the Address?
The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address looks at the ways the speech has been invoked and used – positively and negatively – over the past 150 years. Whereas most other books have been concerned with the ideas that went into the speech, I am most interested in those that came out of that oration. Chapters focus on the Progressive Era, World Wars, and the Civil Rights Movement era, to name a few.
What inspired the idea for this book?
I started this project while still an undergraduate in 2001. For my senior seminar on Abraham Lincoln I looked at local responses to the speech. For my masters thesis I looked at Southern interpretations, and then took a more global approach for my doctoral dissertation.
What is the one nugget you hope readers will take away from this book?
The one thing I hope people will take away is that the vision that Lincoln set forth in 1863 was that a democracy could only persist by placing equality at its core. That remains as true today as when Lincoln was alive, and must be the beacon toward which we, as nation, aim.
After years studying American history, were you surprised by something new you learned while researching this book?
I discovered many new things while researching this book, but the most stunning was that the current French Constitution, adopted in 1958, is based on the Gettysburg Address! Who knew?
The Long Shadow of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address can be purchased online at http://www.jaredpeatman.com.
A graduate of Gettysburg College with a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and Ph.D. from Texas A&M, Peatman’s first monograph, The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, was published in the fall of 2013. For that project Peatman was awarded the 2009 Organization of American Historians/Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Doctoral Fellow and 2012 Hay-Nicolay Dissertation Prize. Since 2010 Peatman has offered leadership development events using historic metaphors and is currently the director of curriculum at the Lincoln Leadership Institute at Gettysburg. He is also the co-author, with Steven B. Wiley, of A Transformational Journey: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg.Posted: Mon, 18 Nov 2013