UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Six degrees of ‘Lincoln’ at UNCG

022713Spotlight_LincolnWhen Spielberg’s “Lincoln” picked up a couple of Academy Awards on Sunday, a number of tangential UNCG connections came to mind:

  • Playwright/screenwriter Tony Kushner was nominated for an Oscar for adapted screenplay, for the film. Theatre department head Jim Fisher has written extensively on Kushner and hosted a Q&A with Kushner at UNCG’s Taylor Theatre in 2008. Fisher’s several books on Kushner include “Kushner in an Hour” and “Understanding Tony Kushner.” In that 2008 talk, Kushner revealed to the students his then-current project: a screenplay about Lincoln. He detailed the Lincoln family’s emotional dynamics, comparing them to those in a Eugene O’Neil play. “It’s ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night,’ with the Lincolns,” he said. Daniel Day-Lewis, in accepting his Oscar for “Best Actor,” acknowledged Kushner.
  • Dr. Richard Nelson Current, who died in October at age 100, was an influential Lincoln scholar. He taught at UNCG for much of his career. In a November article, the Washington Post noted he worked to dispel myths that had grown up around Lincoln, “including the notion that some of his Cabinet members conspired in his assassination.” His books included “The Lincoln Nobody Knows” and “Lincoln and the First Shot.” The Lincoln Forum named their lifetime achievement award in his name.
  • Union General John Schofield, one of the few generals Lincoln mentions in the film, held a conference with Confederate General Joseph Johnston in the vicinity of today’s UNCG campus, as the war concluded. Days before that May 1865 meeting west of Greensboro, Schofield had issued a General Order stating that “all persons in this State heretofore held as slaves are now free,” citing Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
  • Newspaper editor and political figure Henry Watterson lectured on Abraham Lincoln in Foust Building in November 1897, according to clippings preserved in UNCG Archives in a scrapbook. That was 32 years after Lincoln’s death and the end of the Civil War. He had been acquainted with Lincoln, and provided “personal reminiscences of that great leader,” his admiration for the man approaching “a religious zeal.” What did the 300 students and other residents think of Lincoln? “The first mention of Lincoln’s name – thrillingly led up to – elicited a spontaneous, irresistible and hearty burst of applause…”

By Mike Harris
Photograph of Lincoln by Matthew Gardner, 1863.