Lincoln Scholar cannot back up position with evidence?

On February 11, this year, the New York Times reported, “Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar who recently announced his retirement as a public affairs executive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been awarded the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, to be announced Thursday.”

I didn’t realize it at the time when I was in Washington this spring but Mr. Holzer spoke at the National Archives on April 16th. I missed it but a gentleman I met in Washington at the time, Karl Golovin, went to the talk and asked Mr. Holzer a question, that being what he thought of the allegation that the Roman Catholic Church had a part in Abraham Lincoln’s murder. There is a video of the talk and the questions. Karl Golovin’s question is asked at the 52:00 mark. The video can be viewed at

I recently viewed the video and Harold Holzer’s answer and I was quite amazed by his response, as I have studied the New York City Draft Riots and I have never heard of what Mr. Holzer has alleged. I subsequently emailed Mr. Holzer the following on August 18:

Dear Mr. Holzer,

In your talk at the National Archives on April 16th this spring, during the question and answer period, (which I missed), you said that Archbishop John Hughes had personally stood in front of Presbyterian, Methodist and Episcopalian churches and ordered rioters not to touch them during the New York City Draft Riots. I have studied the riots and have never come across this before, although I know he made a speech when, I understand, the riots were essentially over. I was wondering, where the information you gave comes from regarding Hughes actions? I look forward to hearing from you.


Mr. Holzer, to his credit, responded, emailed me back within 15 minutes. That was very good of him but I was very surprised by his answer. He wrote me one line, saying that it had been some time since he did research on the riot but that he “may well do some again” for a new volume on the Civil War in New York. I think that is astonishing that a man who has won such a prestigious Lincoln prize says something as to why he doesn’t believe a Catholic involvement conspiracy theory, because of Lincoln’s relationship to John Hughes, and declares and details why Hughes was such a loyal American. When he is asked for the proof of this however, he has no evidence to provide. I also don’t think he will ever find such evidence as at least one competent commentator of the riots that I know of, Joel Headley, author of the 1873 book, The Great Riots of New York, says the opposite, that the Archbishop did nothing of use at the time. Headley was the only journalist / historian quoted in a 2013 article of the New York Draft Riots by the Washington Post 2013 was the sesquicentennial year of the Riots. I am left at a bit of a loss as to how to answer Mr. Holzer but will work on a response.

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