Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed

By Chuck Strozier

Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln: The Enduring Friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed

On April 15, 1837, a “long, gawky” Abraham Lincoln walked into Joshua Speed’s dry-goods store in Springfield, Illinois, and asked what it would cost to buy the materials for a bed. Speed said seventeen dollars, which Lincoln didn’t have. He asked for a loan to cover that amount until Christmas. Speed was taken with his visitor, but, as he said later, “I never saw so gloomy and melancholy a face.” Speed suggested Lincoln stay with him in a room over his store for free and share his large double bed. What began would become one of the most important friendships in American history.

Speed was Lincoln’s closest confidant, offering him invaluable support after the death of his first love, Ann Rutledge, and during his rocky courtship of Mary Todd. Lincoln needed Speed for guidance, support, and empathy. Your Friend Forever, A. Lincoln is a rich analysis of a relationship that was both a model of male friendship and a specific dynamic between two brilliant but fascinatingly flawed men who played off each other’s strengths and weaknesses to launch themselves in love and life. Their friendship resolves important questions about Lincoln’s early years and adds significant psychological depth to our understanding of our sixteenth president.

What the Critics Say

“Charles B. Stozier long ago established himself as a pioneering student of Lincoln’s inner life. He now returns to the field with the first comprehensive study of Lincoln’s close friendship with Joshua Speed. If history is any guide, Strozier’s compelling account of this crucial aspect of the Lincoln biography is sure to become definitive.”

James Oakes, author of The Crooked Path to Abolition

“Strozier is a masterful psychobiographer, one who manages to combine diligent research into archival materials and other types of primary sources with a creative and often inspired approach to the close reading of documents. That is a rare combination.”

Matthew Pinsker, Dickinson College, author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home

 

“Charles Strozier is unique in his combination of psychological and historical imagination. This highly original book tells us a great deal about Lincoln himself, about the nature of friendship, and about the surprising ways in which friendship can contribute to greatness.”

Robert Jay Lifton, author, Witness to an Extreme Century: A Memoir

 

“No one has previously succeeded in re-creating the nuances of the Lincoln-Speed friendship as deeply or seriously as Prof. Strozier. Moreover, I think it would be safe to say that Strozier is uniquely situated within the Lincoln scholarly fraternity to write on precisely this subject.”

Allen Guelzo, Gettysburg College, author of Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

 

 

“Lincoln was the hub of an important wheel of political and social life and Strozier has repaired the missing spoke that is Joshua Speed.  His use of often-ignored archival sources is brilliant.”

            James M. Cornelius, Lincoln Curator, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

 

 

“Bringing the twin skills of a professional historian and a trained psychoanalyst, Strozier has beautifully illuminated the real significance of the relationship between Lincoln and Spoeed in a crucial formative period in each of their lives.”

            David M. Terman, M.D., former Director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis

 

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