About the Authors and Moderators

Kate Masur

Historian and Author

Kate Masur teaches in the Department of History at Northwestern University. She is the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. and the co-editor of The World the Civil War Made.

John E. Washington

Author of "They Knew Lincoln"

John E. Washington (1880-1964) was a public school teacher, dentist, amateur historian and collector of Lincolniana who lived in Washington, D.C., and Highland Beach, Maryland.

Michele Norris


Michele Norris (Moderator) is one of the most trusted voices in American Journalism. Her voice informs, engages and enlightens listeners with thoughtful interviews and in-depth reporting as one of the hosts of NPR’s flagship afternoon broadcast, “All Things Considered.” Michele uses an approachable interviewing style that is at once relaxed and rigorous. She’s interviewed world leaders, Nobel laureates, Oscar winners, American Presidents, military leaders, influential newsmakers and even astronauts traveling in outer space.


"Masur provides an essential introduction to Washington's world in the nation's capital and to his research methodology in creating the original book.... Having this work back in print will allow readers to understand sides of Lincoln that informed his thinking about race and will help demystify the mythical Lincoln."

- Randall M. Miller, “Library Journal”

"This long-awaited new edition of ‘They Knew Lincoln,’ with Kate Masur's brilliant scholarly introduction, makes available to researchers at every level a set of perspectives that have long been overlooked or difficult to access. The volume not only sheds light on the interactions between African Americans and President Lincoln; it also reveals nuances in the complexities of African-American social structure as it evolved in Washington, D.C. during and after the Civil War. Masur and the Oxford editorial staff are to be commended for this service rendered to scholars as well as to the general public."

- Wilson J. Moses, author of “Alexander Crummell: A Study of Civilization and Discontent”

"Scholars and the general reader are indebted to Kate Masur for making this out-of-print classic available once more. Her invaluable, comprehensive introduction expertly contextualizes John Washington's extraordinary contribution to our understanding of Abraham Lincoln and the ordinary people of color with whom he interacted. This volume is a must-have addition to anyone's Lincoln or Civil War history collection."

- Edna Greene Medford, author of “Lincoln and Emancipation”

"A full understanding of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War is not possible without the voices of African Americans. As ‘They Knew Lincoln’ illustrates, Lincoln's story is their story; their story is Lincoln's story. And somewhere within the overlapping historical narratives of their lives is the true story of slavery, emancipation, and Civil War meaning and memory."

- Stacy Pratt McDermott, author of “Mary Lincoln: Southern Girl, Northern Woman”