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As one of only two presidents to have never formally joined a church, people have wondered just how much Abraham Lincoln himself was under God when he said that the United States should consider itself as such as it strove for a new birth of freedom. 

However, the Civil War shifted the ground decisively under Lincoln's feet. In the cauldron of war, he discovered that God was not merely a remote force or a faceless universal power, but a personal, intelligent, and willing God who intervened in the affairs of men, to direct them in ways that they could not even begin to imagine.

This was a God whom he wanted his nation to be under.

To hear a preview of Professor Guelzo, listen in on his conversation with Acton affiliate scholar John Wilsey on Radio Free Acton, the official podcast of the Acton Institute.

Can't join us for the event in Grand Rapids? Tune in at 12:00 p.m. ET on August 9th for our livestream feed of his lecture.


Allen C. Guelzo, Ph.D.
Gettysburg College

Director of Civil War Era Studies

  1. Allen Guelzo, Ph.D. is the Director of Civil War Era Studies and the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. During 2017-18, he has served as the Wm L. Garwood Visiting Professor in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. He holds the MA and PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania.

He is the author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Wm. Eerdmans, 1999), which won both the Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize in 2000; Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (Simon & Schuster, 2004) which also won the Lincoln Prize and the Abraham Lincoln Institute Prize, for 2005; Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates That Defined America (Simon & Schuster, 2008), on the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858; a volume of essays, Abraham Lincoln as a Man of Ideas (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009) which won a Certificate of Merit from the Illinois State Historical Association in 2010; and Lincoln: A Very Short Introduction (in the Oxford University Press ‘Very Short Introductions’ series. In 2012, he published Fateful Lightning: A New History of the Civil War and Reconstruction with Oxford University Press, and in 2013 Alfred Knopf published his book on the battle of Gettysburg (for the 150th anniversary of the battle), Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, which spent eight weeks on the New York Times best-seller list. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion won the Lincoln Prize for 2014, the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, the Fletcher Pratt Award of the New York City Round Table, and the Richard Harwell Award of the Atlanta Civil War Round Table. His most recent publications are Redeeming the Great Emancipator (Harvard University Press, 2016) which originated as the 2012 Nathan Huggins Lectures at Harvard University, and Reconstruction: A Concise History (Oxford University Press).

He is one of Power Line’s 100 “Top Professors” in America. In 2009, he delivered the Commonwealth Fund Lecture at University College, London, on “Lincoln, Cobden and Bright: The Braid of Liberalism in the 19th-Century’s Transatlantic World.” In 2010, he was nominated for a Grammy Award along with David Straithern and Richard Dreyfuss for their production of the entirety of The Lincoln-Douglas Debates (BBC Audio). He has been awarded the Lincoln Medal of the Union League Club of New York City, the Lincoln Award of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, and the Lincoln Award of the Union League of Philadelphia, in addition to the James Q. Wilson Award for Distinguished Scholarship on the Nature of a Free Society. He has been a Fellow of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University.

He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, National Affairs, First Things, U.S. News & World Report, The Weekly Standard, Washington Monthly, National Review, the Daily Beast, and the Claremont Review of Books, and has been featured on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” and “On Point,” The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (2008), Meet the Press: Press Pass with David Gregory, The Civil War: The Untold Story (Great Divide Pictures, 2014), Race to the White House: Lincoln vs. Douglas (CNN, 2016), and Brian Lamb’s “Booknotes.” Together with Patrick Allitt and Gary W. Gallagher, he team-taught The Teaching Company’s American History series, and as well as courses on Abraham Lincoln (Mr. Lincoln, 2005) on American intellectual history (The American Mind, 2006), the American Revolution (2007), and the Founders (America’s Founding Fathers, 2017). From 2006 to 2013, he served as a member of the National Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He lives in Paoli and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Debra. His website is They have three children - Jerusha Mast, Alexandra Fanucci, and Capt. Jonathan Guelzo (USA) – and five grandchildren.

Event Details

Start Date


Acton Institute | Mark Murray Auditorium
98 E. Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States


11:30 a.m. Doors open
12:00 p.m. Lecture begins
12:30 p.m. Q&A
1:00 p.m. Lecture ends


$15 General | $10 Student
Includes box lunch and beverage

(Please RSVP at least 48 hours in advance to guarantee a box lunch)


We encourage you to build extra travel time into your plans as the City of Grand Rapids is currently doing roadwork near the Acton building (98 E Fulton Street).

metered street parking on Sheldon Ave SE and LaGrave Ave SE is unavailable.

However, the sidewalks are still open and you can enter the Acton Building through our main entrance on Sheldon, or the back entrance (accessible through the alley on LaGrave.)

We are unable to offer parking in the Acton lot for this event.

Metered parking is available on other nearby streets. For more information on parking downtown, visit