Cover image for Every drop of blood : the momentous second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
Title:
Every drop of blood : the momentous second inauguration of Abraham Lincoln
ISBN:
9780802148742
Edition:
First edition.
Physical Description:
xxxvi, 376 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
"By March 4, 1865, the Civil War had slaughtered more than 700,000 Americans and left intractable wounds on the nation. That day, after a morning of rain-drenched fury, tens of thousands crowded Washington's Capitol grounds to see Abraham Lincoln take the oath for a second term. As the sun emerged, Lincoln rose to give perhaps the greatest inaugural address in American history, stunning the nation by arguing, in a brief 701 words, that both sides had been wrong, and that the war's unimaginable horrors-every drop of blood spilled-might well have been God's just verdict on the national sin of slavery. Edward Achorn reveals the nation's capital on that momentous day-with its mud, sewage, and saloons, its prostitutes, spies, reporters, social-climbing spouses, and power-hungry politicians-as a microcosm of all the opposing forces that had driven the country apart. Achorn weaves together the stories of the host of characters, unknown and famous, that had converged on Washington-from grievously wounded Union colonel Selden Connor in a Washington hospital, embarrassingly drunk new vice president Andrew Johnson, and poet-journalist Walt Whitman, to soldiers' advocate Clara Barton, African American leader Frederick Douglass (who called the speech "a sacred effort"), and conflicted actor John Wilkes Booth-all swirling around the complex figure of Lincoln..."--
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Summary

A brilliantly conceived and vividly drawn story--Washington, D.C. on the eve of Abraham Lincoln's historic second inaugural address as the lens through which to understand all the complexities of the Civil War

By March 4, 1865, the Civil War had slaughtered more than 700,000 Americans and left intractable wounds on the nation. After a morning of rain-drenched fury, tens of thousands crowded Washington's Capitol grounds that day to see Abraham Lincoln take the oath for a second term. As the sun emerged, Lincoln rose to give perhaps the greatest inaugural address in American history, stunning the nation by arguing, in a brief 701 words, that both sides had been wrong, and that the war's unimaginable horrors--every drop of blood spilled--might well have been God's just verdict on the national sin of slavery.

Edward Achorn reveals the nation's capital on that momentous day--with its mud, sewage, and saloons, its prostitutes, spies, reporters, social-climbing spouses and power-hungry politicians--as a microcosm of all the opposing forces that had driven the country apart. A host of characters, unknown and famous, had converged on Washington--from grievously wounded Union colonel Selden Connor in a Washington hospital and the embarrassingly drunk new vice president, Andrew Johnson, to poet-journalist Walt Whitman; from soldiers' advocate Clara Barton and African American leader and Lincoln critic-turned-admirer Frederick Douglass (who called the speech "a sacred effort") to conflicted actor John Wilkes Booth--all swirling around the complex figure of Lincoln.

In indelible scenes, Achorn vividly captures the frenzy in the nation's capital at this crucial moment in America's history and the tension-filled hope and despair afflicting the country as a whole, soon to be heightened by Lincoln's assassination. His story offers new understanding of our great national crisis and echoes down the decades to resonate in our own time.


Author Notes

Edward Achorn , a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Commentary and winner of the Yankee Quill Award, is the vice president and editorial pages editor of The Providence Journal . He is the author of two acclaimed books about nineteenth century baseball and American culture, Fifty-nine in '84 and The Summer of Beer and Whiskey . He lives in an 1840s farmhouse in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.


Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Journalist Achorn (The Summer of Beer and Whiskey) meticulously chronicles President Lincoln's March 1865 inauguration in this kaleidoscopic history. Drawing from diaries, letters, memoirs, and newspaper reports, Achorn frames a poignant yet familiar portrait of Lincoln with the accounts of several historical figures who converged in Washington, D.C., for the inaugural address. Among them are Leaves of Grass author Walt Whitman, covering the event for the New York Times; Union Army brigadier general Selden Connor, rehabilitating his battlefield injuries in an area hospital; abolitionist Frederick Douglass, harboring deep suspicions about the president's commitment to "the plight of African Americans"; and Supreme Court Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who administered the oath of office after having schemed to wrest the 1864 Republican presidential nomination from Lincoln. Achorn also tracks John Wilkes Booth's movements over the course of the weekend, citing reports that the actor attempted to "strike down" in the U.S. Capitol rotunda. The book climaxes with a close reading of the speech itself, highlighting its biblical allusions and "astonishing" denunciation of slavery "as an unmitigated evil." Though Achorn covers well-trod ground, he skillfully plumbs his sources for colorful details and draws memorable character sketches. History buffs will savor this evocative narrative. Agent: Lisa Adams, the Garamond Agency. (Mar.)


Kirkus Review

Abraham Lincoln, a now-revered president, wasn't always so beloved.In a capable history of the events of 1865, Providence Journal vice president Achorn (The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball America's Game, 2013, etc.) opens with the sanguinary situation that faced the president when hundreds of thousands of Americans lay dead as a result of a Civil War that threatened to grind on. Lincoln, writes the author, had "used every weapon he could get his hands on" to secure Union victory, from incurring massive federal debts to imposing the first income tax, suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and inaugurating a military draft. Such moves gave ammunition to those who would brand him a tyrant, in the North as well as the South. Lincoln's enemies were legion, among them John Wilkes Booth, who by the time of Lincoln's second inauguration had developed a fixation around the president and indeed set out to kill him as he was being sworn in, having told friends, "I would rather have my right arm cut off at the shoulder than see Lincoln president again." There are plenty of scenes in which combatants are losing limbs for real, a bloodletting that Robert E. Lee finally tried to stanch by negotiating a truce with Ulysses S. Grant in the winter of 1865, one that Lincoln refused to entertain unless the parley resulted in unconditional surrender. "The generals had plainly tried to go around the president to strike the peace deal that had eluded Lincoln," Achorn writes, and Lincoln would have none of it. He lived only a few days after Lee finally surrendered at Appomattox, assassinated in a Washington theater and carried off to die in an apartment nearby because some of the people on hand to attend him "were concerned that a president should not die in a theater, a place that many religious Americans still considered unrespectable."A vigorous, fresh look at a critical time in American history. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Among those attending Lincoln's second inauguration on March 4, 1865, were Walt Whitman, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglass, U.S. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, an embarrassingly drunken Andrew Johnson (about to become vice president), and John Wilkes Booth. Achorn combines this collective biography with a suspense tale involving Booth, who was there to kill Lincoln. Although we know Booth was unsuccessful at that point, Achorn re-creates the scene in a way that generates considerable tension. Mixed in is much Civil War history, including stomach-turning descriptions of the treatment of prisoners, civilians, and soldiers. The mud- and waste-filled city of Washington is described accurately, if also nauseatingly. Also delineated is the sad presence in a nearby hospital of many wounded soldiers, including unionist Selden Connor. Hovering over all is the melancholy presence of Lincoln himself, of whom Achorn provides a rich, heavily psychological portrait. The inauguration speech itself, reprinted in the appendix, is oddly religious (for the freethinking Lincoln) and conciliatory, though that feeling, as Achorn makes clear, was not shared by everyone. A moving chronicle of the country on the eve of assassination.--Mark Levine Copyright 2020 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Achorn (The Summer of Beer and Whiskey) enters the crowded field of Abraham Lincoln studies by focusing on the people in and around Washington, DC, during the immediate days of the president's second inauguration in March 1865. The author provides rich description of a wide cast of people, including politicians, poets, soldiers, and nurses--both those had an interest in Lincoln and the prospects for his second term, as well as others who opposed Lincoln's election in 1864 or sought to undo it in 1865. Achorn is especially insightful in setting the scene for the inaugural, going deep inside the social world of the capital and remarking on the constant positioning for favor or notice. His revealing exegesis of Lincoln's Second Inaugural (shortly before his assassination), as a prayer and sermon more than an address, shows how Lincoln's understanding of scripture informed his reading of the meaning of the Civil War and the nation's obligations from it. VERDICT Although Achorn doesn't offer new interpretations of Lincoln or his speech, he does, however, provide the fullest accounting of the inauguration experience. A solid history that will allow readers to feel as if they are in the moment.--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia


Table of Contents

Image Creditsp. xi
Prologue: The Nation's Woundsp. xv
Chapter 1 Bloody Gashes on the Face of Heavenp. 1
Chapter 2 One and a Half Times Biggerp. 21
Chapter 3 A Message from Grantp. 39
Chapter 4 The Real Precious and Royal Onesp. 58
Chapter 5 Meditation on the Divine Willp. 79
Chapter 6 Public Sentiment Is Everythingp. 98
Chapter 7 Indefinable Fascinationp. 112
Chapter 8 The Blighting Pestilencep. 130
Chapter 9 There Was Murder in the Airp. 150
Chapter 10 A Future with Hope in Itp. 166
Chapter 11 Andy Ain't a Drunkardp. 187
Chapter 12 An Excellent Chance to Kill the Presidentp. 203
Chapter 13 With Malice toward Nonep. 220
Chapter 14 A Truth That Needed to Be Toldp. 238
Chapter 15 A Sacred Effortp. 256
Epilogue: The Stuff to Carry Them Throughp. 273
Appendix: Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Addressp. 297
Acknowledgmentsp. 301
Bibliographyp. 305
Notesp. 323
Indexp. 361