Dr. Allen C. Guelzo talks true lies of Abraham Lincoln for Founder’s Week

The Howard R. Driggs memorial lecture brought Dr. Allen C. Guelzo to the Gilbert Great Hall on March 22 for Southern Utah University’s 125th anniversary. 

Guelzo is a best-selling author and American historian. He has been placed among America’s 100 “Top Professors” by Power Line and served as a member of the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is the current Senior Research Scholar in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University. 

Throughout his lecture, Guelzo spoke about the life of Abraham Lincoln and the stories that have followed him since the beginning of his rise to fame. While the stories that followed him were not entirely factual, each of them had pieces of truth—leading to what Guelzo refers to as true lies. 

These true lies include “Abe Lincoln came from the wrong side of the tracks,” “Abraham Lincoln would be a different kind of politician if he were alive today,” “Lincoln’s assassination was arranged by his own cabinet” and “Lincoln was our greatest president.” With each true lie, Guelzo spoke on the flecks of truth that had created these myths and exposed the lies therein. 

A president as revered as Lincoln is likely to stir up legends such as these, but it is our job as modern people to understand what is truth and what is myth in order to avoid idolizing those from our past. This need to understand true lies extends from celebrities to ourselves. 

“What we need to ask about Abraham Lincoln is what we need to ask about ourselves,” said Guelzo as he urged the audience to seek out their own true lies. 

The Howard R. Driggs memorial lecture seeks to honor Howard R. Driggs, a member ofSUU’s first team of faculty. Driggs was a professor and American historian until his death in 1963. The lecture was established in 2009 by Driggs’ stepdaughter in hopes of highlighting the Driggs Collection which can be found in Special Collections at the Gerald R. Sherratt Library. 


Article and Photo by: Audrey Gee