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Allen C. Guelzo

Date of birth : 1953-02-02
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Yokohama, Japan
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-06-08

Allen C. Guelzo (Also known as: Allen C. Guelzo, Allen Carl Guelzo, Allen Guelzo) born February 2, 1953 in Yokohama, Japan is an American historian; son of Carl Martin, Jr., and Leila Kerrigan Guelzo; married Debra K. Hotchkiss, June 27, 1981; children: Jerusha, Alexandra, Jonathan. Education: University of Pennsylvania, M.A., Ph.D., 1986; Philadelphia Theological Seminary, M.Div. Memberships: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, Abraham Lincoln Association (member of board of directors).


Historian Allen C. Guelzo is best known for his works on American history, many of which are about his favorite subject, President Abraham Lincoln. Holding a master's degree in divinity, in addition to his history degrees, he has also written books on philosophy and theology, most notably on American theologian Jonathan Edwards. One of these works, Edwards in Our Time: Jonathan Edwards and the Shaping of American Religion, is a book he edited with Sang Hyun Lee. David Bebbington, in a Journal of Ecclesiastical History review, noted that "the essays represent a dialogue between the voice of the theologian and the present day." Beggington went on to comment on the author's own contribution to the volume, writing that it "perceptively reveals the differences between Edwards on the free will debate and subsequent writings on the subject."

Guelzo has earned awards for his books about Lincoln. In Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, the author delves into everything from Lincoln's initial forays into politics to his presidency and assassination. Noting that there has been a glut of books about Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Schwarz, writing in the Atlantic Monthly, commented that the author's biography "is quite simply the best book on Lincoln to be published in a generation." Schwarz went on to note: "It treats every aspect of its subject's public and private life with intelligence and penetration ... but this is primarily a study of Lincoln's ideas and outlook." The reviewer concluded that the book is a "masterpiece."

Guelzo once again turned his attention to Lincoln in Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. Since the early years after Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation, debate has focused on the importance of the proclamation, with many thinking that it had little effect on the state or idea of slavery in the United States and that it reveals an unwillingness on Lincoln's part to take on the slavery issue in full. In his book, Guelzo sets out his case for the proclamation being the foundation of the destruction of American slavery and, contrary to some beliefs, a risky political move.

George McKenna, writing in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, commented that the author "lays out his case methodically," adding that Guelzo reveals "Lincoln's underlying principles, then the way he applied them in the rapidly shifting landscape between 1861 and 1865." McKenna also noted that "Guelzo presents a well-documented account of a president who stretched his powers as far as the Constitution and the climate of the times permitted in order to set the nation on a course leading to what he had hoped for many years earlier: the 'ultimate extinction' of slavery. I do not know whether that is still taught in our public schools. Guelzo makes a persuasive case that it should be." Silvana R. Siddali, writing in the Journal of Southern History, commented: "The overarching theoretical framework for this book rests on the author's use of the eighteenth-century definition of good statesmanship." The reviewer added: "One of the book's most significant contributions is its methodology. Guelzo weaves a close reading of primary sources with a meticulous retelling of historical narrative. He insists throughout on a strict nineteenth-century understanding of the scope, purpose, and power of public documents such as proclamations and public letters." In a review in the Christian Century, Ronald C. White, Jr., wrote that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation "leads us into contested territory." Calling the author "a guide who can be trusted to navigate fairly a whole series of questions and issues," White concluded: "This book, and the story it tells with great erudition, deserves a wide reading."

In 2008 Guelzo published Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America. The account centers on the dynamics of the infamous Senate campaign debates between Illinois senator Stephen A. Douglas and Republican lawyer Abraham Lincoln. Although Lincoln lost, the debates served as a marker of the direction the country would take on the issue of abolition of slavery.

New York Times Book Review contributor William Grimes recorded that "in his searching and illuminating Lincoln and Douglas the eminent Lincoln historian Allen C. Guelzo does the great service of bringing the debates back down to earth, placing them in the context of a brutal four-month senatorial campaign." Grimes pointed out that "Guelzo, like a boxing scorer, presents a chart for each debate, indicating points made and rebutted, but he throws up his hands at deciding a winner." David Greenberg, writing in Slate, found that "Guelzo's conclusion, rooted in the ideas of Harvard political theorist Michael Sandel, interprets the debates as a triumph of Lincoln's moral vision over Douglas' arid proceduralism. It's presented as something of an afterthought and doesn't adequately close his stirring tale. He might have been better off drawing out a claim that he leaves implicit, almost untapped: that down-and-dirty politics and serious argument about burning issues need not exist in separate realms." A critic writing in Kirkus Reviews described the account as "a crisply articulated, dynamic presentation of how the debates unfolded and why they still matter today." A contributor writing in Publishers Weekly suggested that "Guelzo's smoothly narrated history of this segment of Lincoln's career ... will become a standard." In an Atlantic Monthly review, a contributor claimed that Lincoln and Douglas "may well be the deepest, most instructive study yet" about the politics of the United States in the immediate period before the start of the Civil War.

Thomas Murphy, reviewing the book in America, recalled that "admirers of Theodore H. White's Making of the Presidents series will recognize in Guelzo many of the same techniques. He puts us inside each campaign. He does not neglect the well-known content of the debates, but he also shows how much of what was said and done by both camps was determined by the proximate goal of winning an election rather than a desire to speak to the ages." Richard Carwardine, writing in Books & Culture, remarked that "Guelzo's approach yields rich rewards, not least in showing how Lincoln's commonly cited remarks at Charleston, brutally explicit in their readiness to keep blacks in their inferior social and political position, were a response not only to Douglas' increasingly effective recourse to racial demagoguery but also to the urgent pleas of Lincoln's local Republican advisors desperate to stop old Whigs shifting to Douglas because he was 'sound on niggers.'"


Choice Award, American Library Association, 1989, for Edwards on the Will; National Endowment for the Humanities grant, 1990-91; American Council of Learned Societies fellowship, 1991-92; American Philosophical Society grant, 1992; F.B. Artz grant, Oberlin College, 1992; Albert C. Outler Prize, American Society of Church History, 1994; Lincoln Prize, Lincoln and Soldiers' Institute, 2000, for Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, 2005, for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America; Book Prize, Abraham Lincoln Institute of the Mid- Atlantic, 2000, for Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, 2005, for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Honorary doctorate, Lincoln College.


Eastern College, St. Davids, PA, Grace F. Kea Professor of American History, beginning 1991, dean of Templeton Honors College, beginning 1998; Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, currently Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and Professor of History. Visiting fellow, Philadelphia Center for Early American Studies, University of Pennsylvania, 1992-93; fellow, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, 1994-95. Board of directors member, Abraham Lincoln Institute of the Mid-Atlantic; advisory board member, Knox College, Lincoln Studies Center; member, Easttown Township Planning Commission, c. 2000; member, Union League of Philadelphia.


* (With Timothy Clark Lemmer) Making God's Word Plain: One Hundred and Fifty Years in the History of Tenth Presbyterian, edited by James Montgomery Boice, The Church (Philadelphia, PA), 1979.
* (Editor) Ambitious to Be Well-Pleasing: A Festschrift for the Centennial of the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Episcopal Church, 1886/87-1986/87, foreword by Jay Adams, postscript by Joni Eareckson Tada, Reformed Episcopal Publication Society: Trinity Foundation (Philadelphia, PA), 1986.
* Edwards on the Will: A Century of American Philosophical Debate, 1750-1850, Wesleyan University Press (Middletown, CT), 1989.
* (Editor) Manning Ferguson Force, From Fort Henry to Corinth, reprint edition, Broadfoot Publishing (Wilmington, NC), 1989.
* For the Union of Evangelical Christendom: The Irony of the Reformed Episcopalians, Pennsylvania State University Press (University Park, PA), 1994.
* The Crisis of the American Republic: A History of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1995.
* (Editor) Josiah Gilbert Holland, Life of Abraham Lincoln, reprint edition, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 1998.
* Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
* (Editor, with Sang Hyun Lee) Edwards in Our Time: Jonathan Edwards and the Shaping of American Religion, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
* (With Gary W. Gallagher and Patrick N. Allitt) The History of the United States (sound recording), 2nd edition, Teaching (Chantilly, VA), 2003.
* Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2004.
* Accepting the Prize: Two Historians Speak, Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA), 2005.
* (With Douglas A. Sweeney) The New England Theology: From Jonathan Edwards to Edwards Amasa Park, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.
* (Author of foreword) Lincoln Emancipated: The President and the Politics of Race, edited by Brian R. Dirck, Northern Illinois University Press (DeKalb, IL), 2007.
* Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2008.

Contributor to books, including Jonathan Edwards's Writings: Text, Context, and Interpretation, edited by Stephen J. Stein, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1996; The Civil War: A Research Handbook, edited by Steven E. Woodworth, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1996; New Horizons in American Religious History, edited by H.S. Stout and D.G. Hart, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998; The Evangelical Engagement with Science, edited by David Livingston and Mark A. Noll, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1999; The Human Tradition in the Civil War and Reconstruction, edited by Steven E. Woodworth, Scholarly Resources (Wilmington, DE), 1999; The Lincoln Enigma, edited by Gabor Boritt, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2001; and Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia: 175 Years of Thinking and Acting Biblically, edited by Philip Graham Ryken, P & R (Phillipsburg, NJ), 2004. Contributor to encyclopedias, and of articles and reviews to academic journals, including Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Journal of the Early Republic, Journal of the History of Ideas, Anglican and Episcopal History, and William and Mary Quarterly.


Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President has been made into a recorded book by Blackstone Audio Books, c. 1999.

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