With Malice Toward None: Another Successful Community Discussion Event!

The panel discussion we hosted together with the Union League Club of Chicago and WTTW on April 9, 2015 was an exciting evening of conversation and civic participation. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, distinguished guests shared their thoughts on Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address; the Union League’s main dining room was nearly sold out, and the audience was in high spirits from start to finish. The outstanding guests who generously shared their evening with us are as follows:

  • Kenneth Clarke, President & CEO, Pritzker Military Library
  • Dr. Cecilia Conrad, V.P., MacArthur Fellows Program
  • The Hon. Roey Gilad, Consul General of the State of Israel to the Midwest
  • Dr. Susan Henking, President, Shimer College
  • Dr. Charles Lipson, Professor of International Relations, University of Chicago
  • The Hon. Toni Preckwinkle, President, Cook County Board
  • Daniel Schmidt, President & CEO, WTTW-11
  • Scott Stantis, Editorial Cartoonist, Chicago Tribune
  • Jackie Taylor, Founder and Executive Director, Black Ensemble Theater
  • The Hon. Diane Wood, Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • Eli Williamson, Director of Veterans Program, McCormick Foundation
  • Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director, Illinois Humanities Council
  • Rabbi Michael Zedek, Senior Rabbi, Emanuel Congregation

LincolnDiscussion programs like this are a great way to extend our mission of creating opportunities for civil discourse. They lead to meaningful relationships with outstanding citizens and organizations: we revitalized some old connections, as well as met some new people whom we are very excited to work with in the future. Scott Stantis of the Chicago Tribune even drew an editorial cartoon afterward!The discussion took many different directions, but one aspect that really stood out was when participants began to talk about the spiritual implications of Lincoln’s message. It was interesting to note that until this point in history Lincoln’s prose had been predominantly secular, but now he was mentioning a higher power quite frequently, in direct reference to the Civil War. Another question that came up was what Lincoln meant by his two uses of the word “right” towards the end of the speech. What did he mean by each, and why did he choose to use them differently? The group also talked about how Lincoln rarely uses “I,” but addresses “we” as citizens throughout. What was he asking all Americans to do, as “fellow countrymen?”

The program wrapped up around 8:00, with an in-depth look at Lincoln’s rhetoric from Dr. David Zarefsky of Northwestern University. Great Books is grateful to the Union League Club and WTTW for partnering with us, and of course to the participants who provided their insightful thoughts on Lincoln’s words. We look forward to many more programs like this, and hope that you do too!

Audrey Schlofner works in marketing at the Great Books Foundation.

  1. Alice Dunlap-Kraft says:

    It was indeed a fascinating discussion with a delightful group. Our Mutual Friend was so much fun to read and so hard to put down that it was a treat to think deliberately about it for those 15 hours. The variety of perspectives among our group on the psychology and motivations of the characters was fascinating. I especially enjoyed Nancy’s questions about tests of character and relationships posed in the plot, who failed the tests, who surpassed them, and why. It was a wonderful week at Toronto Pursuits.

  2. Jess Hungate says:

    Nancy, this is a great note on Classical Pursuits, which I encourage all to consider attending, as well as on Dickens and the Shared Enquiry (TM) approach more generally. I remember with such fondness our consideration last year of that greatest of all (OK, well almost all) books, Middlemarch. The book, the July in Toronto, your leadership, and reading and discussion in general – all very highly recommended. I look forward to Classical Pursuits next July!!

  3. Nancy Carr says:

    Thank you, Jess! I’ve learned a great deal from participants at Classical Pursuits over the years, and I look forward to it each summer.

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