May 12, 2022Liked by Mark Eaton

Thanks again Mark for another interesting piece.

I never tire of reading books about Lincoln as he is/was an endlessly fascinating person. When Doris Kearns Goodwin was writing her great book on Lincoln, one of her research assistants, Nora Titone, was sent to New York to do some research on the Booth family. What she found was incredible and was nearly lost to history. She was given access to never before seen Booth family papers, including correspondence and diaries.

She discovered that John Wilkes Booth's grandfather, Junius, was considered the greatest Shakespearean actor of his time. When he died, John Wilkes and his older brother Edwin vied to replace him. Edwin rose to prominence, acting often at Ford's Theatre, where he would get his younger brother lesser roles, which divided the brothers, but also explains how John Wilkes Booth was very familiar with Ford's Theatre and knew how to get in and where to go on the night of the assassination. Eventually the two brothers divided up the country, Edwin taking the North and John Wilkes the South, where it is believed his Southern sympathies were nurtured. Edwin became incredibly rich and famous, lived in New York, built The Booth Theatre, and became the president of The Players, the most prominent social club of its time.

Nora Titone relays all of this information to Goodwin, who tells her that what she has found is incredible and is deserving of its own book, so Nora Titone wrote My Thoughts Be Bloody, which I strongly recommend.

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May 10, 2022Liked by Mark Eaton

Those 3 all sound like good books and ones I should read. You refer to "Team of Rivals," which is superb. The comments about fellow cabinet members are interesting. As I recall from Team of Rivals, EVERY Cabinet member thought he should be President instead of Lincoln (who they all felt was a baboon). Seward was the earliest to realize that Lincoln had some remarkable talents, and Seward became Lincoln's most loyal supporter. But the comments in your note about Chase apply equally to Stanton. Stanton was less of a political rival, but as a young lawyer Lincoln represented a railroad, and was reporting to Stanton. Stanton was in the "big city:" Cincinnati. Lincoln made the pilgrimage to Cincinnati, where he got to cool his heels in the waiting room for an inordinate time. Stanton basically treated him like dirt. 10-15 years later Lincoln was President. He was trying to figure out who to name as Secretary of War to replace Simon Cameron (who had definitely been a political rival). Stanton was not a political rival; he had served very briefly as Buchanan's AG and then advised Cameron, but there were certainly splits in the Lincoln Cabinet as to whether Lincoln should appoint him. Lincoln decided Stanton was the right man for the job. There is no question Lincoln remembered the humiliating encounter in Cincinnati (what human being wouldn't remember?) but Lincoln decided it was more important to get the right man for the job. How many Presidents would have done that? Trump's obsession with personal loyalty is clearly above and beyond, but it's a rare politician who can ever forget such insults. Lincoln could.

The continuing question I have about Lincoln: if he had not been assassinated, how would Reconstruction have turned out? We'll never know, but Andrew Johnson set a low bar and Lincoln surely would have been better. Grant had his own issues, but Johnson's actions (and inactions) limited what Grant could do. Would all of today's "racist" issues have been solved? Likely not--but I contend things would have been better. Slavery was the stain on America that keeps on giving; Reconstruction was our best chance to deal with the stain, but the opportunity was missed. The whole issue would have been an enormous challenge, but if anyone could have led the way, it was Lincoln.

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