Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog post 200 celebrates a dream come true

I wonder if Abraham Lincoln ever got frustrated with the telegraph. Where's Tom Wheeler, the Lincoln and the telegraph expert, when you need him? Bet he could tell us!

I just had one of the coolest experiences of my life. I sat down and poured it all out in a blog post sharing why I've just had a dream come true, and lost everything I wrote when my hotel Internet connection cut off. Guess that will teach me to write them in Word first instead of typing directly into the blog publishing tool. And, on top of that, it's my 200th post!

So what's the dream?
I am in Gettysburg, Pa. at the Lincoln Forum Symposium with nearly 300 other Lincoln enthusiasts and/or scholars celebrating the life and legacy of our 16th President. I've wanted to come to a Lincoln Forum Symposium ever since 2005. You can read why in my tribute to the late David Herbert Donald. I took the advice he, Harold Holzer and Matt Pinsker gave me when the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened - and I'm not disappointed.

If you're not a Lincoln buff, but you like sports, imagine what it would be like to get all the top athletes into one room at same time - but leave the ego behind. The Lincoln scholars I've met are the most supportive, humble people I know, and the Lincoln buffs here are just as enthusiastic as I am. It's a great place to be.

McPherson on Lincoln
I got to hear James McPherson speak tonight and there are lots more great speakers to come in the next two days. McPherson's talk on "Lincoln and the West" was a fine reminder that the West in Lincoln's day and before was much further east than the West of which we often are reminded. He also spoke on one of my pet Lincoln projects - Lincoln and the railroad. You can bet this talk will be one of my sources as I move forward with my research.

I got to meet Dr. McPherson last night, and told him I'd reviewed one of his books. Unfortunately, that late at night at the end of a very long week and the start of another, I couldn't remember which one I'd reviewed. I looked at the three in front of me and wondered, "Which one did I review, and why don't I have it here?" I later realized it was his neat little 79-page volume, and I didn't have it with me because I'd read a library copy. Guess I'd better get my own before the next time I see him! It's a true gem - a short, easy and delightful read. Here's what I had to say about it.

Don't forget - I tweet, too
I'll try to share the enthusiasm as I can. I won't be blogging during the day, but I will tweet when possible. If you are a Lincoln buff and you want to know what we're up to out here in Gettysburg, follow me on Twitter, too. I'm also LincolnBuff2 on there. I'm almost at 600 Twitter followers. Wouldn't it be cool if we could hit that milestone during the Forum?

Watch out, though. I'll be in the clouds the next few days. Reading this blog and my tweets may elevate your Lincoln enthusiasm to new levels, too.

*Revised Nov. 17, 2009 to add further detail on McPherson talk and my review of his book

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