Lincoln Through the Lens: How Photography Revealed and Shaped an Extraordinary Life

by Martin W. Sandler

It’s hard to imagine a time when the U.S. president wasn’t photographed... read more

It’s hard to imagine a time when the U.S. president wasn’t photographed at every event from every possible angle, but that’s how it was when Abraham Lincoln first took office in 1861. Photography was a recent invention and Lincoln became the first U.S. president to have his life and time documented with photographs. And Lincoln seemed to understand intuitively how to use this medium to his benefit. He wore simple clothes and deliberately mussed his hair before posing for a photograph to accentuate his folksiness. When posing with the Union officers with whom he was often at odds, he made sure he would dominate the photograph by standing in the center and wearing a stovepipe hat so that he would tower over the other men. He credited photographer Mathew Brady with winning him the White House, due to a widely circulated photograph of Lincoln standing in front of a pillar, next to a stack of books. Martin W. Sandler documents Lincoln’s rise to power through a chronological arrangement of photographs, accompanied by the fascinating stories behind each one, along with what they tell the modern reader about Abraham Lincoln. (Age 9 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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