Lincoln Discussion Symposium
The Soul Of Abraham Lincoln by William Barton - Printable Version

+- Lincoln Discussion Symposium (
+-- Forum: Lincoln Discussion Symposium (/forum-1.html)
+--- Forum: Books - over 15,000 to discuss (/forum-6.html)
+--- Thread: The Soul Of Abraham Lincoln by William Barton (/thread-4557.html)

The Soul Of Abraham Lincoln by William Barton - Gene C - 09-16-2021 08:25 PM

Written in 1920, with about 380 pages of text.
At the time it was written, it quickly became "the book" regarding Lincoln's religious views, how they developed and what influenced him over time. It is not light reading. It's good, but it took me a while to read it.

Written to explain why some writers, mainly Herndon and Lamon, had mistaken views regarding Lincoln's religious views. He gives solid reasons to explain through Lincoln's own words and quotes from people close to Lincoln, where Herndon, Lamon, and others got it wrong.

He's pretty thorough tracing Lincoln's developing religious views throughout his life from growing up in a log cabin to the White House, and responding to the various claims of Lincoln's lack of belief in certain basic foundations of Christianity, as well as those who claimed a special influence on his beliefs.

Barton's sources are well documented and he has a good bibliography.
The thirteenth chapter "Lincoln's Burnt Book" is especially interesting and about the claims over an alleged book or essay that Lincoln wrote to argue - the Bible was not God's revelation, and Jesus was not the son of God. This was supposed to have been taken and burned by one of his friends so as not to become public and ruin his political career. I have always found the story as told by Herndon and Lamon as doubtful. Barton's comments regarding this are interesting and will require some additional study for me.

Available on Internet Archive

Or you can purchase through ABE Books or you favorite retailer
(I purchased my hardback 1920 copy, in good condition, for less than $10)

Additional information has come to light since Burton wrote this 100 years ago, but it is still one of the better researched and documented books on the subject of Lincoln's religious beliefs.

RE: The Soul Of Abraham Lincolm by William Barton - RJNorton - 09-17-2021 04:53 AM

I like William E. Barton's books. Perhaps my favorite is The Paternity of Abraham Lincoln. Barton examines in great detail all of the various rumors - (1) that Lincoln was the son of Abraham Enlow, a farmer from Hardin County, Kentucky; (2) that Lincoln was the son of George Brownfield, another Hardin County farmer; (3) that Lincoln was the son of Abraham Inlow, a miller from Bourbon County, Kentucky; (4) that Lincoln was the son of an alleged foster son (named Andrew) of Chief Justice John Marshall; (5) that Lincoln was the son of Abraham Enloe of North Carolina; (6) that Lincoln was the son of John C. Calhoun of South Carolina; and (7) that Lincoln was the son of Martin D. Hardin of Kentucky.

After examining all the evidence on these 7 fathers, Barton concludes there is no question Thomas Lincoln was the true father of Abraham Lincoln.

RE: The Soul Of Abraham Lincoln by William Barton - LincolnMan - 09-19-2021 02:06 PM

Good review Gene as always. Thanks!

RE: The Soul Of Abraham Lincoln by William Barton - Gene C - 10-09-2021 04:27 PM

In addition to his books and articles about Abraham Lincoln, William E Barton was also a minister of the Congregational Church and wrote several religious books and articles.
He also wrote one short book with an intriguing title that caught my eye "The Story of A Pumpkin Pie"

It's a short children's book and the story is told in the form of a poem.
Written in 1898, the simple illustrations set the scene of three children and their dog
"All boys and girls who read it through Will know what they themselves should do.
If they will work, and wait, and try, They, too, may have a pumpkin pie."

RE: The Soul Of Abraham Lincoln by William Barton - Rob Wick - 10-09-2021 08:35 PM

Barton wanted to write to Tarbell as early as the 1890s when her Life of Lincoln came out in McClure's. Barton wrote to a mutual friend asking for an introduction. Either he never wrote her, or the letter is missing in her papers. The first letter that Tarbell answered was written by Barton in 1919 and concerned her views on Lincoln's religion. Interestingly, Tarbell didn't write back until 1923 (and people get mad if you don't respond to a text immediately!). Tarbell explained that she had been out of New York for much of 1919 and 1920 on the lecture circuit and didn't see a whole bunch of letters, including Barton's. They corresponded (and disagreed) with each other up to Barton's death.

Anyone interested can find Barton's papers at the University of Chicago.

Other papers are located in various repositories.