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Jason Silverman
Name: Jason Silverman
Position: History Professor

Jason Silverman
When Jason Silverman was in fourth grade, he wanted to depict Abraham Lincoln in a silent vignette, but his teacher wouldn't let him because he wasn't tall enough.

The feisty elementary student took the refusal as a challenge and thus began a lifetime fascination with the 16th president.

Today Silverman is the senior member of the Winthrop faculty in terms of time in rank, having arrived in 1984 and being promoted to full professor in 1990. He also is the Ellison Capers Palmer Jr. Professor of History, which gives him time and resources to research Lincoln. In classes and in local newspaper columns, the history professor frequently references Lincoln's wisdom and his common sense approach to government.

Silverman finds the self-taught Illinois lawyer and legislator a leader that Americans can still learn from. "I want it said of me by those who knew me best," said Lincoln, "that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow." The history scholar says that he has used that philosophy every day in his now 34-year university teaching career.

Lincoln is the subject of some 16,000 books, making him the most studied and written about American figure. Yet little has been written about Lincoln's views on immigration, still today a timely topic.

"Lincoln and the Immigrant," Silverman's 11th book, will provide an important perspective on a president who welcomed immigrants but who also made derogatory comments about certain ethnic groups who were parts of the immigrant population.

The book, entitled "Lincoln and the Immigrant," will be part of the Concise Lincoln Library Series, a new series of short books on the life, times and legacy of Lincoln published by the Southern Illinois University Press. The primary audience consists of general readers, but these books are also of interest to scholars, specialists and students. Silverman's book will come out in the fall of 2015.

Silverman not only has seniority at Winthrop, but he also is considered one of the university's best teachers. Among his teaching awards, Silverman has received Winthrop's Outstanding Junior Professor Award and Distinguished Professor, was selected for the Phi Kappa Phi Excellence in Teaching Award three times, and, in 1990, became the first person in Winthrop's history to be named S.C. Professor of the Year.

His dedication to students and scholarship was rewarded earlier this year when the Dr. Jason Silverman Endowed Scholarship was announced in March at the Palmer Lecture.

As Silverman winds down his teaching career in the next few years, he hopes his students remember the lessons he has taught in class. Besides the history content, Silverman wants his students to remember to never give up on anything, or to ever abandon their dreams.

After all, had he been discouraged over a half century ago, a life-long passion about Abraham Lincoln would never have occurred. "I may walk slowly," Lincoln said, "but I never walk backward."

Silverman has followed this throughout his life, and he hopes he's imparted this to his over three decades of Winthrop students as well.

Last updated 8/29/14

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