The article by Deborah Yaffe, “The Politics of History,” regarding Allen Guelzo (April issue), was a tour de force and should be required reading by every student of history, politics, or the School of Public and International Affairs. It is excellently researched and beautifully written.
Guelzo is a most interesting and complex man — a conservative in a sea of liberal academicians, although it became clear to me that his political leanings, with which one can agree or disagree, do not seem to color his objectivity as a scholar of the Civil War.
Participating in a White House conference on American history, no matter who the president is, should not be the measure of the man. Several mentions were made of the fact that this conference was held at the National Archives, which while an agency of the government, is not engaged in politics and complies with the proscriptions of the First Amendment — opinions may be freely spoken there. A president can hardly be denied the use of the hall at the Archives. (Conflict note: I serve on the board of the National Archives Foundation.)
As for me, this article made me a fan of Guelzo, whose books I am hopeful of reading, and sharply redirected my attention to President Lincoln, of whom he is a recognized scholar.
Perhaps before criticizing Guelzo for his alleged conservatism, one should look more deeply into Lincoln. Just reading a number of quotations of his will enlighten, inform, and entertain the reader and perhaps permit a better understanding of Guelzo.