I have on my desk here a large stack of paper, the first set of printed page proofs for Stanton. I am reading and marking them, in some cases finding small typos, in other cases making small improvements. I am nearly done, which is good, because I owe these pages back to the publisher on Monday. I am going to hand-carry them to New York City, see the editors and my agent there.
My biography of Edwin Stanton is coming, on August 8, 2017. With the new year I am turning away from writing and revising the book (although there is still some of that work ahead) and towards promoting the book. I have one book event set, for Jackson, Mississippi, on August 17, 2017. I expect to be setting up many more events, perhaps not quite so many as Seward, starting in August and running through December. If you would really like me to come to your bookstore, or your library, get in touch with me, through the contact section of this website, or with Elizabeth Gay at Simon & Schuster.
In early October 1863, Seward drafted and Lincoln issued a proclamation, calling upon Americans to thank God for their blessings. How much of the final proclamation is Seward and how much Lincoln we do not know, but even Gideon Welles, who did not much like Seward, praised Seward’s draft in this case.
I received a copy of the proclamation by email this morning from a friend in Hong Kong, who suggested, and I think he is right, that Lincoln speaks to our situation today, in which we find ourselves in a war of words with one another, simply over an election. Lincoln’s proclamation reminds us that we are all Americans, and that we have so much to thank God for.
After a long, bitter, divisive election, a Republican president candidate has prevailed. The candidate’s partisans rejoice, but his opponents are outraged that such a narrow, prejudiced man will become president. Some are so outraged that they are thinking about leaving the United States. A Republican senior statesman is asked for his comments.
I have learned from Simon & Schuster in the past few days that Stanton will be published in August 2017. We do not have a precise date within that month but we will fix one soon.
This means that I have to give the book, in final form, to S&S by some time in early December. Suddenly all those things that I thought I would do “some day” have to be done some time between now and early December. Yes, I can leave a few things to sort out later, a few footnotes to be checked and completed, a few images to find and permissions to secure. But basically it has to be done soon.
Simon & Schuster has asked me for a list of my speeches about Seward, which turns out to be a long list. While looking for them on my old computer, I came across these remarks at Seattle Prep in early 2014. I post them in case they might help others understand why and how I write books, and indeed help students as they research and write their own papers. They end with a bit of a “teaser” for the Stanton book, coming some time next fall. “Mr. McCarthy,” in the first line, is my good friend Andy McCarthy, head coach of the Seattle Prep mock trial team.
I have just returned from Washington, from the Library of Congress, where I found many interesting and useful sources. What is sad is that, in most cases, I will be able to quote only a few words from these sources, not whole paragraphs. In an effort to right that wrong, I attach here my rough transcript of a document entitled “To the Public” in the papers of Jeremiah Black. Black was Stanton’s friend and colleague in the Buchanan cabinet. Not long after Stanton’s death, articles appeared talking about Stanton as an “anti-Buchanan” man, saying that he had argued with Buchanan, threatened to resign, to force Buchanan to defend the South Carolina forts. Black was drafting a response to those articles, in early 1870, but for some reason never published it, perhaps because it was “overtaken by events” when Henry Wilson published an article about Stanton in February 1870, an article to which Black responded at length.
I am making progress on Stanton. I now have 176,372 words written in 18 chapters. The book is supposed to be 200,000 words long, so that would suggest that I only have another 24,000 words to write.
The reality is that I have more to do than that. This morning, for example, I am rewriting several chapters to emphasize the relations between Secretary Stanton and General William Tecumseh Sherman. This will be important in two chapters I have left to write, the chapter on early 1865, when Stanton meets with Sherman to discuss his policy towards blacks, and the chapter on the summer of 1865, when Stanton overrules Sherman’s truce with Johnston. I need to “go back” a bit so the reader understands that there were tensions between Stanton and Sherman even before early 1865, mainly tensions about Sherman’s refusal to recognize blacks as soldiers.
I am making progress on my biography of Edwin McMasters Stanton. I am finishing today chapter 9, which takes Stanton to the end of 1862, his first year as Secretary of War. I have thus finished the first nine chapters, from 1814 through 1862. I have 1863 ahead of me, two chapters. The end of 1863 should tie up with another chapter already done, covering the first six months of 1864. Then I have a gap, of about a year, the latter part of 1864 and first seven months of 1865, probably three chapters. And then I have drafted, pretty much, the last four chapters, dealing with Reconstruction.
I am in the Boise airport, waiting to board my flight home to California, after attending high school mock trial nationals with the Phillips Exeter mock trial team, which I coach.
I am, I must confess, tired and disappointed. You are not sure, as the weekend progress, how you have done, but we thought by the end of yesterday that we had won three trials and lost one. It turned out, when the results were released this morning, that we won only one trial and lost three. So instead of being, as we hoped, something like tenth in the nation, we were thirty-fourth. Disappointing.