David Herbert Donald
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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.
proposed at the instigation of Charles Sumner: “And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.” But more than anything else, the crisis taught Lincoln his own strength. Looking back on his handling of the affair nearly a year later, he told John Hay: “I do not now see how it could have been done better. I am sure it was right. If I had
service to his country, I shall cheerfully make way for him as my successor.” This was not an offer on Lincoln’s part to withdraw from the presidential race in Seymour’s favor. It was, instead, simply a prediction, as Lincoln told Weed, that if the governor used his power “against the Rebellion and for his Country, he would be our next President.” But all hope of enlisting Seymour as an ally, or as a confederate in a realignment of parties, was shattered by the Vallandigham case. War Democrats
especially to “that brave and loyal man,” the “modest General at the head of our armies.” After his renomination, when the Ohio delegation serenaded him with a brass band, he responded: “What we want, still more than Baltimore conventions or presidential elections, is success under Gen. Grant,” and he urged his hearers to bend all their energies to support “the brave officers and soldiers in the field.” He continued to have great faith in Grant, but he was conscious of the swelling chorus of
Union forces operating in the Valley. II It was not only Grant who tried Lincoln’s patience during these unusually hot, depressing summer months of 1864. Usually he was ready to spend countless hours listening to visitors who brought him their complaints and petitions, sometimes over quite trivial matters, but now he had had enough. When two citizens of Maine asked him to intervene to settle a personal problem, the President sharply responded: “You want me to end your suspense? I’ll do so.
the trigger. It was about 10:13 P.M. When Major Rathbone tried to seize the intruder, Booth lunged at him with his razor-sharp hunting knife, which had a 7¼-inch blade. “The Knife,” Clara Harris reported, “went from the elbow nearly to the shoulder, inside,—cutting an artery, nerves and veins—he bled so profusely as to make him very weak.” Shoving his victim aside, Booth placed his hands on the balustrade and vaulted toward the stage. It was an easy leap for the gymnastic actor, but the spur on