Abraham Lincoln’s views on immigration will be discussed in the upcoming lecture “Thieves, Greasers and Mongrels.” The lecture will be given by Dr. Jason Silverman on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Richardson Ballroom.
The event is described by Silverman as an entertaining look at Lincoln’s introduction to the presence and significance of immigrants in the U.S.
He finds that Lincoln’s impressions of Asian, European and South American immigrants reveal an integral part of the president’s personal and political philosophy.
Silverman has studied Lincoln’s immigration philosophies in depth for his upcoming book, “Lincoln and the Immigrant.” The book will be a part of the Concise Lincoln Library and is expected to be published in late 2015.
“There are over 6,500 books on Lincoln,” Silverman said. “According to the Library of Congress, a book on him is published every week. However, there has never been a book on Lincoln and the immigrant.”
Dr. Silverman discovered this when he was teaching a senior capstone history class. He was looking for topics for his students when he came across a headline on immigration.
“I thought, now I’ve been studying him for 30 years and you know what, I’ve never seen a book about his immigration policies,” Silverman said.
After researching the topic further, he discovered that his hunch was correct and he decided to pursue the topic for his own book.
“He had a very keen interest in the lives of immigrants,” Silverman said. “He was extremely sympathetic to their situations. Now he was a product of his time and used some derogatory language, that’s where the title ‘Thieves, Greasers and Mongrels” comes from.”
Silverman believes taking a look at Lincoln’s policies on immigration is important and has great modern day applications.
“It’s not difficult to find a topic on Lincoln or headlines on immigration today. People are always using him as an example, his stance on slavery or the Gettysburg Address for public speaking, but they never use his policies as a guide for immigration.
Both Republicans and Democrats would be well advised to read my book and put some of his polices into practice,” Silverman said.
According to Silverman, it was Lincoln’s personal views that allowed him to come up with such effective policies and be the great leader that he was.
This humanitarian side of the 16th president is something Silverman believes made him special and is something everyone can learn from.
“I’ve tried to copy Lincoln. He’s a good role model. I’ve tried to be as compassionate as Abraham Lincoln. I’ve tried to be as kind, as friendly as Abraham Lincoln. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to be as forgiving as Abraham Lincoln.
He had an incredible capacity to forgive. He would welcome people who had been very, very unkind.
He was this example of what we all could be: one who had great respect for his fellow man,” Silverman said.