Today’s post is a little different. I am part of a reading group that read books and shares our thoughts together in a Facebook Group. My first book for this group was “Killing Lincoln” by O’Reilly and Dugard. I hope you enjoy my brief review of this fantastic book.
I have had this book on my Kindle for some time but decided to read it during our vacation time this holiday season. I couldn’t put it down. There is a unique pleasure in being in the midst of a book that you feel guilty putting down for such mundane reasons as sleep or food! 🙂 I loved the way the story was told and I learned a lot about the Civil War, Lincoln, and the history of the time period. In reading history I love seeing how small decisions and how key moments–both big and small–have tremendous impact on the future and can even change the entire course of a nation.
.Lincoln’s approach to post-war reconstruction was one of reconciliation and forgiveness — “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations,”
Vice-President Andrew Johnson, however, believed that the South must be punished, and harshly so. What might our nation look like today had Lincoln’s “malice toward none” policies healed the nation rather Johnson’s vindictive attitudes of revenge? We’ll never know.
.A few more passages that caught my attention:
“Soon, one by one, the rebels raise their musket butts in the air as a signal of surrender. Union soldiers round up these men, whom they have fought so savagely for the previous hour. Then, shocked by the sunken eyes and gaunt Confederate faces, some of the bluecoats open their rucksacks and share their food.”
Following the South’s surrender — “Lincoln sighs inwardly. He has waited so long for this moment, and yet he must hold back. These words cannot be delivered impulsively. Nor can he hope to be bathed in applause after they are spoken. The people need to hear the truth, even though that’s not what they want to hear. The crowd wants retribution, not reconciliation; they want grand and eloquent words. Inspirational words. Fortifying words. Even boastful words. They will tell their children’s children about the night after the war was won, the night they heard the great Abraham Lincoln frame the victory in the most beautiful and poetic way possible.”
“The American people are unique in that their considerable political passion is expressed at the ballot box, not through violence directed at their leaders, whom they can vote out of office.”
I wonder if this is changing before our very eyes.
Lincoln, in the days following the South’s surrender, knowing that there were those who wished him dead, yet refusing to go into hiding — “I know I am in danger, but I am not going to worry over little things like these.”
Finally, just a little bit of sober humor that any married man will appreciate. General Grant, the military genius who had brutally destroyed the Confederate forces, leading to his great military victory. Grant and his wife, Julia, had been invited by the President to join them at Ford Theatre on the evening of his assassination. John Wilkes Booth, in fact, had made plans to kill both Lincoln and his good friends a brilliant Union General — “A messenger arrives carrying a note for Grant. It’s from Julia and she’s not happy. Mrs. Grant wants her husband back at the Willard Hotel immediately, so that they can catch the 6:00 P.M. to Burlington, New Jersey. General Grant’s decision has now been made for him. After months and years of men obeying his every order, he bows to an even greater authority than the president of the United States: his wife.”
What if Grant has decided in favor of POTUS rather than his wife. What direction might the US had taken had Grant, the future President, also been assassinated that evening? Always listen to your wives, men.