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Honor’s Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln's remarkable emergence from the rural Midwest and his rise to the presidency have been the stuff of romance and legend. But as Douglas L. Wilson shows us in Honor's Voice, Lincoln's transformation was not one long triumphal march, but a process that was more than once seriously derailed. There were times, in his journey from storekeeper and mill operator to lawyer and member of the Illinois state legislature, when Lincoln lost his nerve and self-confidence - on at least two occasions he became so despondent as to appear suicidal - and when his acute emotional vulnerabilities were exposed.
Focusing on the crucial years between 1831 and 1842, Wilson's skillful analysis of the testimonies and writings of Lincoln's contemporaries reveals the individual behind the legends. We see Lincoln as a boy: not the dutiful son studying by firelight, but the stubborn rebel determined to make something of himself. We see him as a young man: not the ascendant statesman, but the canny local politician who was renowned for his talents in wrestling and storytelling (as well as for his extensive store of off-color jokes). Wilson also reconstructs Lincoln's frequently anguished personal life: his religious skepticism, recurrent bouts of depression, and difficult relationships with women - from Ann Rutledge to Mary Owens to Mary Todd.
Meticulously researched and well written, this is a fascinating book that makes us reexamine our ideas about one of the icons of American history.
The Young Eagle: The Rise of Abraham Lincoln
Americans justifiably admire Abraham Lincoln as an extraordinary individual, yet portray him as somehow representative of ordinary Americans. Lincoln himself appreciated his own mythic appeal, and as president, labeled himself the archetypal American. Indeed, his humble beginnings proved an ironic part of his preparation for greatness, attuning him to the loftiest aspirations and deepest fears of his fellow Americans. Drawing on the latest interpretive and methodological advances in historical scholarship, The Young Eagle reexamines the young adult life of America’s sixteenth president.
With stimulating, engaging narrative, this book recasts legendary events and relationships surrounding Lincoln. It delves into Lincoln’s “humble” beginnings and why they were not particularly humble, considers how bankruptcy boosted Lincoln’s fortunes during his brief but controversial career as a merchant, offers proof that the alleged love affair with Ann Rutledge never happened, argues that Lincoln’s supposedly tempestuous marriage to Mary Todd was truly a typical Civil War-era middle-class marriage, and illustrates why Lincoln’s racial attitudes and antislavery stance were admirably advanced for his time.
Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter, 1860-1861
Written by one of our most eminent Lincoln scholars, winner of a Lincoln Prize for his Lincoln at Cooper Union, this book examines the four months between Lincoln's election and inauguration, when the president-elect made the most important decision of his coming presidency -- there would be no compromise on slavery or secession of the slaveholding states, even at the cost of civil war.
Abraham Lincoln first demonstrated his determination and leadership in the Great Secession Winter -- the four months between his election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861 -- when he rejected compromises urged on him by Republicans and Democrats, Northerners and Southerners, that might have preserved the Union a little longer but would have enshrined slavery for generations. Though Lincoln has been criticized by many historians for failing to appreciate the severity of the secession crisis that greeted his victory, Harold Holzer shows that the president-elect waged a shrewd and complex campaign to prevent the expansion of slavery while vainly trying to limit secession to a few Deep South states.
During this most dangerous White House transition in American history, the country had two presidents: one powerless (the president-elect, possessing no constitutional authority), the other paralyzed (the incumbent who refused to act). Through limited, brilliantly timed and crafted public statements, determined private letters, tough political pressure, and personal persuasion, Lincoln guaranteed the integrity of the American political process of majority rule, sounded the death knell of slavery, and transformed not only his own image but that of the presidency, even while making inevitable the war that would be necessary to make these achievements permanent.
A masterful work by Pulitzer Prize–winning author David Herbert Donald, Lincoln is a stunning portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s life and presidency.
Donald brilliantly depicts Lincoln’s gradual ascent from humble beginnings in rural Kentucky to the ever-expanding political circles in Illinois, and finally to the presidency of a country divided by civil war. Donald goes beyond biography, illuminating the gradual development of Lincoln’s character, chronicling his tremendous capacity for evolution and growth, thus illustrating what made it possible for a man so inexperienced and so unprepared for the presidency to become a great moral leader. In the most troubled of times, here was a man who led the country out of slavery and preserved a shattered Union—in short, one of the greatest presidents this country has ever seen.
Blood On the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
“Hurrah! Old Abe Lincoln has been assassinated!” wrote a South Carolina girl in her diary in 1865, giving palpable voice to the intense anti-Lincoln sentiments of the slaveholders and the South in general. This well-argued, often exciting account of an organized Confederate plot behind John Wilkes Booth’s murder of the president both finely synthesizes traditional Lincoln assassination scholarship and proposes new proof and twists on already acknowledged possibilities. Steers, an avocational historian who has written several other books on Lincoln and the assassination, has a sharp ear for historical discordance and a novelist’s eye for illuminating detail. Carefully filling in background (from Booth’s relationship to theater and politics to the fascinating, complicated trial of co-conspirator Mary Surratt) for the nonspecialized reader, Steers gracefully disentangles a clutter of characters, historical details and hypotheses to prove his own conspiracy theory. Much of this material will be new to the common reader—a Confederate plot to use yellow fever as a form of biological warfare against the North; the flight to the Vatican of Mary Surratt’s son in an effort to escape prosecution after the assassination—but Steers never loses his firm grip on his exciting primary narrative. Although he inclines toward purple prose in his more dramatic moments (“The deed was done. The tyrant was killed. Abraham Lincoln could burn in hell. Sic semper tyrannis!”), his theory is forthrightly and convincingly presented. Less a book for professional historians than U.S. history buffs and Lincoln diehards, this engaging exposé makes for provocative reading.
Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln
Although he was Abraham and Mary Lincoln's oldest and last surviving son, the details of Robert T. Lincoln's life are misunderstood by some and unknown to many others. Born in a boarding house but passing his last days at ease on a lavish country estate, Robert Lincoln played many roles during his lifetime. As a president's son, a Union soldier, a minister to Great Britain, and a U.S. secretary of war, Lincoln was indisputably a titan of his age. Much like his father, he became one of the nations most respected and influential men, building a successful law practice in the city of Chicago, serving shrewdly as president of the Pullman Car Company, and at one time even being considered as a candidate for the U.S. presidency. Along the way he bore witness to some of the most dramatic moments in America's history, including Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; the advent of the railroad, telephone, electrical, and automobile industries; the circumstances surrounding the assassinations of three presidents of the United States; and the momentous presidential election of 1912. Giant in the Shadows also reveals Robert T. Lincoln's complex relationships with his famous parents and includes previously unpublished insights into their personalities. Emerson reveals new details about Robert's role as his father's confidant during the brutal years of the Civil War and his reaction to his father's murder; his prosecution of the thieves who attempted to steal his father's body in 1876 and the extraordinary measures he took to ensure it would never happen again; as well as details about the painful decision to have his mother committed to a mental facility. In addition Emerson explores the relationship between Robert and his children, and exposes the actual story of his stewardship of the Lincoln legacy--including what he and his wife really destroyed and what was preserved. Emerson also delves into the true reason Robert is not buried in Springfield, Illinois.
Mrs. Lincoln: A Life
Mary Lincoln's story is inextricably tied with the story of America and with her husband's presidency, yet her life is an extraordinary chronicle on its own. Born into an aristocratic Kentucky family, she was an educated, well-connected Southern daughter. When she married a Springfield lawyer she became a Northern wife, an experience mirrored by thousands of her countrywomen. The Lincolns endured many personal setbacks, including the death of a child and defeats in two U.S. Senate races, along the road to the White House. Mrs. Lincoln herself suffered scorching press attacks, but remained faithful to the Union and her wartime husband. She was also the first presidential wife known as the "First Lady," and it was in this role that she gained her lasting fame. The assassination of her husband haunted her for the rest of her life. Her disintegrating downward spiral resulted in a brief but traumatizing involuntary incarceration in an asylum and self-exile in Europe during her later years. One of the most tragic and mysterious of nineteenth-century figures, Mary Lincoln and her story symbolize the pain and loss of Civil War America.
Abraham Lincoln: A Life
In the first multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln to be published in decades, Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame offers a fresh look at the life of one of America’s greatest presidents. Incorporating the field notes of earlier biographers, along with decades of research in multiple manuscript archives and long-neglected newspapers, this remarkable work will both alter and reinforce current understanding of America’s sixteenth president.
Volume 1 covers Lincoln’s early childhood, his experiences as a farm boy in Indiana and Illinois, his legal training, and the political ambition that led to a term in Congress in the 1840s. In volume 2, Burlingame examines Lincoln’s life during his presidency and the Civil War, narrating in fascinating detail the crisis over Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s own battles with relentless office seekers, hostile newspaper editors, and incompetent field commanders. Burlingame also offers new interpretations of Lincoln’s private life, discussing his marriage to Mary Todd and the untimely deaths of two sons to disease.
But through it all—his difficult childhood, his contentious political career, a fratricidal war, and tragic personal losses—Lincoln preserved a keen sense of humor and acquired a psychological maturity that proved to be the North’s most valuable asset in winning the Civil War.
Published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth, this landmark publication establishes Burlingame as the most assiduous Lincoln biographer of recent memory and brings Lincoln alive to modern readers as never before.
The Madness of Mary Lincoln
In 2005, historian Jason Emerson discovered a steamer trunk formerly owned by Robert Todd Lincoln's lawyer and stowed in an attic for forty years. The trunk contained a rare find: twenty-five letters pertaining to Mary Todd Lincoln's life and insanity case, letters assumed long destroyed by the Lincoln family. Mary wrote twenty of the letters herself, more than half from the insane asylum to which her son Robert had her committed, and many in the months and years after. Emerson charts Mary Lincoln's mental illness throughout her life and describes how a predisposition to psychiatric illness and a life of mental and emotional trauma led to her commitment to the asylum. The first to state unequivocally that Mary Lincoln suffered from bipolar disorder, Emerson offers a psychiatric perspective on the insanity case based on consultations with psychiatrist experts. This book reveals Abraham Lincoln's understanding of his wife's mental illness and the degree to which he helped keep her stable. It also traces Mary's life after her husband's assassination, including her severe depression and physical ailments, the harsh public criticism she endured, the Old Clothes Scandal and the death of her son Tad. "The Madness of Mary Lincoln" is the story not only of Mary, but also of Robert. It details how he dealt with his mother's increasing irrationality and why it embarrassed his Victorian sensibilities; it explains the reasons he had his mother committed, his response to her suicide attempt and her plot to murder him. It also shows why and how he ultimately agreed to her release from the asylum eight months early, and what their relationship was like until Mary's death. This historical page-turner provides readers for the first time with the lost letters that historians had been in search of for eighty years.
Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author, James McPherson, reveals how Lincoln won the Civil War and invented the role of commander in chief as we know it
As we celebrate the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth, this study by preeminent, bestselling Civil War historian James M. McPherson provides a rare, fresh take on one of the most enigmatic figures in American history. Tried by War offers a revelatory (and timely) portrait of leadership during the greatest crisis our nation has ever endured. Suspenseful and inspiring, this is the story of how Lincoln, with almost no previous military experience before entering the White House, assumed the powers associated with the role of commander in chief, and through his strategic insight and will to fight changed the course of the war and saved the Union.
Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History
Even two hundred years after Abraham Lincoln's death, we, like Walt Whitman, "love the President personally." In a stunning feat of scholarship, insight, and engaging prose, Lincoln's Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright "ugly" of aspect came to mean so much to us. The very roughness of Lincoln's appearance made him seem all the more common, one of us—as did his sense of humor about his own awkward physical nature. Nineteenth-century African Americans felt deep affection for their "liberator" as a "homely" man who did not hold himself apart. During Reconstruction, Southerners felt nostalgia for the humility of Lincoln, whom they envisioned as a "conciliator." Later, teachers glorified Lincoln as a symbol of nationhood that would appeal to poor immigrants. Monument makers focused not only on the man’s gigantic body but also on his nationalist efforts to save the Union, downplaying his emancipation of the slaves. Among both black and white liberals in the 1960s and 1970s, Lincoln was derided or fell out of fashion. More recently, Lincoln has once again been embodied (as both idealist and pragmatist, unafraid of conflict and transcending it) by outstanding historians, by self-identified Lincolnian president Barack Obama, and by actor Daniel Day-Lewis—all keeping Lincoln alive in a body of memory that speaks volumes about our nation.
A. Lincoln: A Biography
Everyone wants to define the man who signed his name “A. Lincoln.” In his lifetime and ever since, friend and foe have taken it upon themselves to characterize Lincoln according to their own label or libel. In this magnificent book, Ronald C. White, Jr., offers a fresh and compelling definition of Lincoln as a man of integrity–what today’s commentators would call “authenticity”–whose moral compass holds the key to understanding his life.
Through meticulous research of the newly completed Lincoln Legal Papers, as well as of recently discovered letters and photographs, White provides a portrait of Lincoln’s personal, political, and moral evolution. White shows us Lincoln as a man who would leave a trail of thoughts in his wake, jotting ideas on scraps of paper and filing them in his top hat or the bottom drawer of his desk; a country lawyer who asked questions in order to figure out his own thinking on an issue, as much as to argue the case; a hands-on commander in chief who, as soldiers and sailors watched in amazement, commandeered a boat and ordered an attack on Confederate shore batteries at the tip of the Virginia peninsula; a man who struggled with the immorality of slavery and as president acted publicly and privately to outlaw it forever; and finally, a president involved in a religious odyssey who wrote, for his own eyes only, a profound meditation on “the will of God” in the Civil War that would become the basis of his finest address.
Most enlightening, the Abraham Lincoln who comes into focus in this stellar narrative is a person of intellectual curiosity, comfortable with ambiguity, unafraid to “think anew and act anew.”
A transcendent, sweeping, passionately written biography that greatly expands our knowledge and understanding of its subject, A. Lincoln will engage a whole new generation of Americans. It is poised to shed a profound light on our greatest president just as America commemorates the bicentennial of his birth.
William H. Herndon aspired to write a faithful portrait of his friend and law partner, Abraham Lincoln, based on his own observations and on hundreds of letters and interviews he had compiled for the purpose. Even more important, he was determined to present Lincoln as a man, rather than a saint, and to reveal things that the prevailing Victorian conventions said should be left out of the biography of a great national hero.
A variety of obstacles kept Herndon from writing his book, however, and not until he found a collaborator in Jesse W. Weik did the biography begin to take shape. It finally appeared in 1889, to decidedly mixed reviews. Though controversial from the outset, Herndon's Lincoln nonetheless established itself as a classic, and remains, as Don E. Fehrenbacher declared, "the most influential biography of Lincoln ever published."
This new edition restores the original text, includes two chapters added in the revised (1892) edition, and traces the history of how Herndon and his collaborator, after many delays, produced one of the landmark biographies in American letters. Extensive annotation affords the reader a detailed look at the biography's sources.
Lincoln in American Memory
Lincoln's death, like his life, was an event of epic proportions. When the president was struck down at his moment of triumph, writes Merrill Peterson, "sorrow--indescribable sorrow" swept the nation. After lying in state in Washington, Lincoln's body was carried by a special funeral train to Springfield, Illinois, stopping in major cities along the way; perhaps a million people viewed the remains as memorial orations rang out and the world chorused its sincere condolences. It was the apotheosis of the martyred President--the beginning of the transformation of a man into a mythic hero.
Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America
No single official paper in American history changed the lives of as many Americans as Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. But no American document has been held up to greater suspicion. Its bland and lawyerlike language is unfavorably compared to the soaring eloquence of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural; its effectiveness in freeing the slaves has been dismissed as a legal illusion. And for some African-Americans the Proclamation raises doubts about Lincoln himself.
Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation dispels the myths and mistakes surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation and skillfully reconstructs how America's greatest president wrote the greatest American proclamation of freedom.
Abraham Lincoln: Selected Speeches and Writings: A Library of America Paperback Classic
Featuring a forward by Gore Vidal, this collection offers a glimpse inside the mind of the 16th U.S. President and a snapshot of 19th-century America
Ranging from finely honed legal arguments to wry and some sometimes savage humor to private correspondence and political rhetoric of unsurpassed grandeur, the writings collected in this volume are at once a literary testament of the greatest writer ever to occupy the White House and a documentary history of America in Abraham Lincoln's time. They record Lincoln's campaigns for public office; the evolution of his stand against slavery; his electrifying debates with Stephen Douglas; his conduct of the Civil War; and the great public utterances of his presidency, including the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln's political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.
On May 18, 1860, William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates, and Abraham Lincoln waited in their hometowns for the results from the Republican National Convention in Chicago. When Lincoln emerged as the victor, his rivals were dismayed and angry.
Throughout the turbulent 1850s, each had energetically sought the presidency as the conflict over slavery was leading inexorably to secession and civil war. That Lincoln succeeded, Goodwin demonstrates, was the result of a character that had been forged by experiences that raised him above his more privileged and accomplished rivals. He won because he possessed an extraordinary ability to put himself in the place of other men, to experience what they were feeling, to understand their motives and desires.
It was this capacity that enabled Lincoln as president to bring his disgruntled opponents together, create the most unusual cabinet in history, and marshal their talents to the task of preserving the Union and winning the war.
We view the long, horrifying struggle from the vantage of the White House as Lincoln copes with incompetent generals, hostile congressmen, and his raucous cabinet. He overcomes these obstacles by winning the respect of his former competitors, and in the case of Seward, finds a loyal and crucial friend to see him through.
This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln's mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation's history.
The Last Lincolns: The Rise and Fall of a Great American Family
Most books about Abraham Lincoln end on April 14, 1865, the day he was assassinated at Ford's Theatre. But that historic event takes place near the beginning of The Last Lincolns, a singular title in the vast output of Lincolnia and one of the most unusual books ever written on the sixteenth president and his family.
Going far beyond that fateful day into uncharted territory, it's a gripping page turner written by a TV producer with proven storytelling skills. This absorbing American tragedy tells the largely unknown story of the acrimony that consumed the Lincolns in the months and years that followed the president's murder. This was not a family that came together in mourning and mutual sadness; instead, they fell out over the anguished mental condition of the widowed Mary. In 1875, Robert, the handsome but resentful eldest Lincoln child engineered her arrest and forcible commitment to an insane asylum.
Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home
After the heartbreaking death of his son Willie, Abraham Lincoln and his family fled the gloom that hung over the White House, moving into a small cottage in Washington, D.C., on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, a residence for disabled military veterans. In Lincoln's Sanctuary, historian Matthew Pinsker offers a fascinating portrait of Lincoln's stay in this cottage and tells the story of the president's remarkable growth as a national leader and a private man.
Lincoln lived at the Soldiers' Home for a quarter of his presidency, and for nearly half of the critical year of 1862, but most Americans (including many scholars) have not heard of the place. Indeed, this is the first volume to specifically connect this early "summer White House" to key wartime developments, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the firing of McClellan, the evolution of Lincoln's "Father Abraham" image, the election of 1864, and the assassination conspiracy. Through a series of striking vignettes, the reader discovers a more accessible Lincoln, demonstrating what one visitor to the Soldiers' Home described as his remarkable "elasticity of spirits." At his secluded cottage, the president complained to his closest aides, recited poetry to his friends, reconnected with his wife and family, conducted secret meetings with his political enemies, and narrowly avoided assassination attempts. Perhaps most important, he forged key friendships that helped renew his flagging spirits. The cottage became a refuge from the pressures of the White House, a place of tranquility where Lincoln could refresh his mind.
Based on research in rarely tapped sources, especially the letters and memoirs of people who lived or worked at the Soldiers' Home, Lincoln's Sanctuary offers the unexpected--a completely fresh view of Abraham Lincoln--through the window of a place that helped shape his presidency.
The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery
Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in History, the Bancroft Prize, and the Lincoln Prize: from a master historian, the story of Lincoln's -- and the nation's -- transformation through the crucible of slavery and emancipation. In this landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner begins with Lincoln's youth in Indiana and Illinois and follows the trajectory of his career across an increasingly tense and shifting political terrain from Illinois to Washington, D.C. Although "naturally anti-slavery" for as long as he can remember, Lincoln scrupulously holds to the position that the Constitution protects the institution in the original slave states. But the political landscape is transformed in 1854 when the Kansas-Nebraska Act makes the expansion of slavery a national issue. A man of considered words and deliberate actions, Lincoln navigates the dynamic politics deftly, taking measured steps, often along a path forged by abolitionists and radicals in his party. Lincoln rises to leadership in the new Republican Party by calibrating his politics to the broadest possible antislavery coalition. As president of a divided nation and commander in chief at war, displaying a similar compound of pragmatism and principle, Lincoln finally embraces what he calls the Civil War's "fundamental and astounding" result: the immediate, uncompensated abolition of slavery and recognition of blacks as American citizens. Foner's Lincoln emerges as a leader, one whose greatness lies in his capacity for moral and political growth through real engagement with allies and critics alike.
The news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 15, 1865, just days after Confederate surrender, astounded a war-weary nation. Massive crowds turned out for services and ceremonies. Countless expressions of grief and dismay were printed in newspapers and preached in sermons. Public responses to the assassination have been well chronicled, but this book is the first to delve into the personal and intimate responses of everyday people—northerners and southerners, soldiers and civilians, black people and white, men and women, rich and poor.
Exploring diaries, letters, and other personal writings penned during the spring and summer of 1865, historian Martha Hodes captures the full range of reactions to the president’s death—far more diverse than public expressions would suggest. She tells a story of shock, glee, sorrow, anger, blame, and fear. “’Tis the saddest day in our history,” wrote a mournful man. It was “an electric shock to my soul,” wrote a woman who had escaped from slavery. “Glorious News!” a Lincoln enemy exulted, while for the black soldiers of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts, it was all “too overwhelming, too lamentable, too distressing” to absorb.
Longlisted for the National Book Award, Mourning Lincoln brings to life a key moment of national uncertainty and confusion, when competing visions of America’s future proved irreconcilable and hopes for racial justice in the aftermath of the Civil War slipped from the nation’s grasp. Hodes masterfully explores the tragedy of Lincoln’s assassination in human terms—terms that continue to stagger and rivet us today.
An Honest Calling: The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln practiced law for nearly twenty-five years, five times longer than he served as president. Nonetheless, this aspect of his life was known only in the broadest outlines until the Lincoln Legal Papers project set to work gathering the surviving documentation of more than 5,600 of his cases. One of the first scholars to work in this vast collection, Mark E. Steiner goes beyond the hasty sketches of previous biographers to paint a detailed portrait of Lincoln the lawyer.
This portrait not only depicts Lincoln's work for the railroads and the infamous case in which he defended the claims of a slaveholder; it also illustrates his more typical cases involving debt and neighborly disputes. Steiner describes Lincoln's legal education, the economics of the law office, and the changes in legal practice that Lincoln himself experienced as the nation became an industrial, capitalist society. Most important, Steiner highlights Lincoln's guiding principles as a lawyer.
In contrast to the popular caricature of the lawyer as a scoundrel, Lincoln followed his personal resolve to be "honest at all events," thus earning the nickname "Honest Abe." For him, honesty meant representing clients to the best of his ability, regardless of his own beliefs about the justice of their cause. Lincoln also embraced a professional ideal that cast the lawyer as a guardian of order. He was as willing to mediate a dispute outside the courtroom in the interest of maintaining peace as he was eager to win cases before a jury.
Over the course of his legal career, however, Lincoln's dedication to the community and his clients' personal interests became outmoded. As a result of the rise of powerful, faceless corporate clients and the national debate over slavery, Lincoln the lawyer found himself in an increasingly impersonal, morally ambiguous world.
American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies
It is a tale as familiar as our history primers: A deranged actor, John Wilkes Booth, killed Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre, escaped on foot, and eluded capture for twelve days until he met his fiery end in a Virginia tobacco barn. In the national hysteria that followed, eight others were arrested and tried; four of those were executed, four imprisoned. Therein lie all the classic elements of a great thriller. But the untold tale is even more fascinating.
Now, in American Brutus, Michael W. Kauffman, one of the foremost Lincoln assassination authorities, takes familiar history to a deeper level, offering an unprecedented, authoritative account of the Lincoln murder conspiracy. Working from a staggering array of archival sources and new research, Kauffman sheds new light on the background and motives of John Wilkes Booth, the mechanics of his plot to topple the Union government, and the trials and fates of the conspirators.
Piece by piece, Kauffman explains and corrects common misperceptions and analyzes the political motivation behind Booth’s plan to unseat Lincoln, in whom the assassin saw a treacherous autocrat, “an American Caesar.” In preparing his study, Kauffman spared no effort getting at the truth: He even lived in Booth’s house, and re-created key parts of Booth’s escape. Thanks to Kauffman’s discoveries, readers will have a new understanding of this defining event in our nation’s history, and they will come to see how public sentiment about Booth at the time of the assassination and ever since has made an accurate account of his actions and motives next to impossible–until now.