William D. Green

The Children of Lincoln

White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860–1876

University of Minnesota Press 2018

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network January 8, 2019 Colin Mustful

At a speech before the unveiling of the Freedman’s Monument in 1876, Fredrick Douglass stated, “You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are...

At a speech before the unveiling of the Freedman’s Monument in 1876, Fredrick Douglass stated, “You are the children of Abraham Lincoln. We are only at best his step-children; children by adoption, children of circumstances and necessity.” But who was Douglass referring to when he said “You are the children of Abraham Lincoln” and what did he mean? Dr. William Green investigates this statement in a case-study of four whites from Minnesota who fought hard and won rights for black Americans during and after the Civil War. By evaluating the actions of Morton Wilkinson, Thomas Montgomery, Daniel D. Merrill, and Sarah Burger Stearns, Dr. Green shows how black suffrage was earned in Minnesota, leading the so-called children of Lincoln to say, “We have done our part.” The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860–1876 (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) is a fascinating, well-researched book about the limits of black opportunity in Minnesota with remarkable parallels to today’s social and political climate.

Dr. William Green is professor of history at Augsburg University and vice president of the Minnesota Historical Society. Dr. Green received his B.A. in History from Gustavus Adolphus College, and his M.A., Ph.D., and J.D. from the University of Minnesota.


Colin Mustful has a M.A. in history from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and is currently a candidate for a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Augsburg University. You can learn more about his work at his website: www.colinmustful.com.

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