Lincoln and Leadership

Two Scholars Discuss Lincoln’s Place in American History

(l-r): Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik and Dr. Harold Holzer

On Monday, March 11, 2019, more than 70 students and partners of The Zahava and Moshael Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought joined Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, director of the Center, and Harold Holzer, a noted scholar of Abraham Lincoln and an adviser on Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln, for a lively evening of conversation on “Lincoln and Leadership” at the Roosevelt House, a public policy institute at Hunter College.

Using Lincoln as a focal point for discussion, Dr. Soloveichik and Holzer examined the 16th president’s efforts to end the Civil War while securing the ratification of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery in the United States.

In exploring the depiction of one of the most studied of the U.S. presidents at a historical turning point, they traded pointed observations as they screened clips from Lincoln, touching upon such topics as Lincoln’s sincerity as a liberator, his real views on slavery, the role religion played in his presidency and how the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government experienced a sea change due to Lincoln’s active involvement in the passing of the 13th Amendment.

Engaged, informative, and at times humorous, especially when Dr. Holzer shared anecdotes on his attempts to ensure historical accuracy in the filming of critical scenes, the event offered a fascinating look at the testing of presidential mettle at a pivotal moment. “I’m especially excited by the turnout we had for the event, and I expect the audience walked away with a greater appreciation of the man and president who transformed American politics,” said Dr. Soloveichik.