Chapter One: "Abe Lincoln Must Come"
The train bearing a weary but exultant Abraham Lincoln home from nearby De Witt County lumbered into Springfield, Illinois, early on Saturday evening, October 15, 1859. No one was on hand there to greet him. Lincoln disembarked, strode past the brick depot, and commenced the brief, four-block walk along the gas-lit streets that led to his house. The weather was "fine and bracing," with a touch of frost biting the air.
The practicing attorney had spent the last five days at Clinton, a village some forty miles to the northwest, busily "attending court," as he innocuously put it. But ever the...
Among the many tantalizing "what ifs" of the Civil War era -- what if Stonewall Jackson had survived past 1863; what if George G. Meade had pursued the shattered Confederate army after Gettysburg; what if Abraham Lincoln had eluded assassination -- is one question that must precede all the others. What if Lincoln the aspiring presidential candidate had failed his first, grueling, decisive test of political and oratorical skills in New York City?
In fact, it is entirely possible that had he not triumphed before the sophisticated and demanding audience he faced at New York's Cooper Union on February 27, 1860, Lincoln...