Clayton Author Analyzes Lincoln

“Did He, A Freshly Minted Lawyer, Strike You As A Rising Man?”

As a former New Yorker, educator Jan Jacobi came to St. Louis in 1982. He took seventh graders on a field trip to Lincoln's New Salem State Historic Site, a reconstructed village regarding the 16th American president in Petersburg, Illinois. Since then, he notes he's been fixating, studying, writing about and providing a current voice to US President Abraham Lincoln. 

"I fell in love with New Salem, and felt I got a real sense of Lincoln there. Students came back asking for recommendations for related reading materials, but we found there was a gap of information for that middle school age range," recalls this Clayton resident of the past 30 years (his wife, Ginger, is a lifelong Clayton native). "So, students suggested that I write it."

His latest book, Lincoln In Springfield, is a follow-up to his award-winning debut, Young Lincoln, which was published in 2018.

The recent book offers insight into Abraham Lincoln’s time as a young professional and politician in Springfield, Illinois. "Follow along, to his first term as a Whig Congressman representing Illinois in Washington, D.C. As he argues cases, builds friendships with allies and rivals alike, marries, and begins his political career, the portrait of the presidential Lincoln will begin to emerge, though not without some stumbles along the way."

Jan says Shakespeare and the Bible were Lincoln's two most favorite reads. 

This is the 50th consecutive year that Jan has taught middle school English and humanities. For 27 years, he served as head of the Lower School at St. Louis Country Day School and head of the Middle School at MICDS. For the past 10 years, he's taught seventh and eighth grade humanities at the St. Michael School in Clayton. In 2014, he was recognized as middle school teacher of the year by St. Louis Magazine.

Lincoln In Springfield can be purchased at local Indie bookstores, such as Subterranean Books and The Novel Neighbor, online via Amazon, and of course, at Lincoln's home in Springfield. The book just earned a national 2022 Nautilus Award. It also won a Best of Illinois History Award from the Illinois State Historical Society in early April. 

Jan says he plans to complete a five-book series. He's currently working on the third book, to be titled Transformation of Lincoln. "Students engage with the stories, and say they feel they really know the president from reading my books. One suggested maybe it could all become the Harry Potter of Abe Lincoln," he quips. 

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