For reasons that have been widely discussed by Lincoln scholars in the past few years, Herndon and his biographical efforts have been under a cloud of suspicion for a good portion of the twentieth century, but we are coming to see how much of the criticism aimed at him has been misguided or misplaced and needs to be reconsidered.
It now appears that beginning about midcentury, Lincoln scholarship became so preoccupied with Herndon's supposed weaknesses and shortcomings that it lost sight of the magnitude of his contribution.
In these respects he was certainly Lincoln's opposite.
He was also, by comparison with Lincoln, something of a radical.
Logan, Lincoln's previous partner and the leader of the Springfield bar, to rise and contradict Herndon. Edwards -- had in varying degrees drifted away from Lincoln, both personally and politically, in the years leading up to his nomination.
Now diary entries have materialized, written by a woman who saw the memorandum books in 1866, and who recorded her shocked reactions to accounts of "profligacy" and "debauchery." A distinguished Lincoln scholar describes the discovery, and considers anew the collision of privacy and history EVERY age needs its own biographies of the great historical figures.
Although Herndon was far from an ideal biographer, he was an honest and a conscientious one, and the biographical resources he gathered and developed are simply indispensable to our knowledge of Lincoln.
William Herndon was very different from his partner.
Only four years later the historian Fawn Brodie published a biography that treated the relationship with Sally Hemings as a central fact in Jefferson's life.
To the dismay of Malone and most other authorities on Jefferson's life, Brodie's treatment was not only seriously entertained but enthusiastically embraced by a large proportion of the American public.
Lincoln outstript them and they in secret hate him.