With Firmness in the Right: Lincoln and the Jews

On display August 3, 2015 - November 15, 2015, at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, IL.


1. Raised on the Old Testament

2. Lincoln Wins the Presidency and Civil War Looms

3. A Most Valued Friendship: Lincoln and the Jonas Family

4. A Moral Stand Against Predjudice

5. Jews in the Civil War<

6. Issachar Zacharie

7. Glorious News! The War Ends

8. A Truth That Needed to be Told>

9. Appendix

In 1858, when Abraham Lincoln emerged onto the national stage, Jews made up less than one-half of one percent of the American population. Many Americans of that time did not know Jews personally, yet Lincoln did, and these relationships stood out amid the stereotyping and anti-Semitism of mid-19th-century America. 

In his second inaugural address, toward the end of a bloody, four-year-long civil war, Lincoln urged the American people to move forward "with malice toward none, with charity for all.” The statement encapsulated the view of a man who strove for tolerance and inclusivity. True reconciliation, however, required not only compassion, but also a strong moral conviction: one must act, the famous address continued, “with firmness in the right.” That principled commitment distinctly characterized Lincoln’s efforts to protect liberty for all, including Jews, and to advocate against the tide of discrimination.

Through historical documents, including many original writings by Lincoln and his Jewish contemporaries shown publicly for the first time, this exhibition brings to light the little-known relationship between Lincoln and the Jews. The bonds Lincoln formed with Jewish individuals during his lifetime, and the interventions he made as president on behalf of all Jews, reflected his deepest values and helped promote Jewish equality in the United States.

The exhibition was previously on display at the New-York Historical Society, New York City, NY, from March 2015 - June 2015.