Simon & Schuster has requested, and I am working on, a bibliography for the back of the book.

In a sense, the bibliography is the first document I created, when I started work on Stanton, creating a list of books and articles and papers.  I still have that document, edited over the course of five years, on my computer.  (For more on the use of a bibliography as a research tool see my Seattle Prep talk on this blog.)  But I have had to edit it quite a bit to create the bibliography for the published book, because in many cases I listed books and articles on tangential issues.  Some of those I looked at but did not cite; some of them I never even looked at.  There is not much point sending the poor reader to look at things I decided were not much use.


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.

Seattle Prep Remarks

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.

Electronic Newspapers

I am working away on my biography of Edwin Stanton, writing today the chapter that deals with 1861, the first few months of the Civil War.

As I write I do bits of research, to “fill in the gaps” and to answer questions.  This morning, for example, I was looking at letters between Stanton and former president Buchanan from May 1861.  Buchanan complained to Stanton on May 6 about what he viewed as an attack on his administration by Frederick Seward, son of my prior subject William Henry Seward.  Stanton counseled Buchanan on May 13 that there was no point responding to the “fling” by young Seward.  Other authors have found these letters, they are after all in the published works of Buchanan.  But no author has found the “fling” by Frederick Seward.  What, I wondered, did Frederick say?

Pittsburg Puzzle

On December 25, 1860, the New York Tribune reported that there was “intense excitement” in Pittsburgh the prior day because of reports of the imminent “shipment from the Allegheny Arsenal of seventy-eight guns to Newport, near Galveston Island, Texas, and forty-six more to Ship Island, near Balize, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the apparent object being to strip the Allegheny Arsenal and place the guns where the Secessionists could get them.”

One can readily imagine the excitement:  South Carolina had just seceded from the United States, other states seemed likely to follow, and these southern states were seizing the federal arms at hand.

Augustus Long

I am getting ready to teach, next semester at Chapman, a course on the Civil War, and thinking about how I first got fascinated by that war.  It goes back, I think, to Augustus Long.

It was about 1991 or 1992, when I started looking into my genealogy, that I learned that my great-great grandfather, Augustus Long, was a sergeant in the 128th Pennsylvania Volunteers.

Long was born in August 1840 so he was only twenty-two when he volunteered in August 1862.  The regiment was organized in Pennsylvania, went to Washington, spent a week or so there, then hastened north in early September to defend Maryland and Pennsylvania.  Stephen Sears, in his great book on Antietam, describes what happened to 128th at Antietam on the morning of September 19, 1862:

Common Sense

I am reading this morning an interesting little book, a memoir by William Crook, body guard for Lincoln.  Crook, when he arrived at the White House in January 1865, was a young police officer, detailed by the Washington chief to help guard the President.  Crook remained on the White House staff after Lincoln’s death; indeed he was still there in January 1915, when he was honored by President Woodrow Wilson for fifty years of service.

Chapter X

I have started writing the Stanton book.  I am writing what I call chapter X, because I am not sure how many chapters will precede it.  The chapter deals with the first half of 1864, including the Dahlgren raid, the appointment of Grant as lieutenant general, the spring campaign, the bogus proclamation of May 18, 1864.

The fact that I am writing does not mean that I am done with researching; indeed as I write I look at the sources, such as the official records or Lincoln papers or newspapers, to see if they confirm points.  I have even found, through internet research, some sources I did not know about, including a long article by Stephen Sears on the Dahlgren raid.  But at some point you have to stop researching, start writing, or you will never give people the pleasure of reading.

Johnson as VP

I am reading today Paul Bergeron’s excellent book on Andrew Johnson.  Bergeron notes that the question of Lincoln’s role in the selection of Andrew Johnson as vice president has been and continues to be controversial.  The “conventional wisdom” is that Lincoln was neutral in this process; that he allowed the Republican delegates at the Baltimore convention to make their own choice.  Bergeron disputes this, arguing that Lincoln knew he needed political help in the election and “the logical choice . . . was his military governor from Tennessee.”

Stanton Does Not Meet Sheridan

A few days ago, while reading the memoirs of Philip Sheridan, I noted his meeting with Stanton in Washington on the morning of October 17, 1864.  According to Sheridan, he was summoned to Washington by Stanton himself, and “proceeded at an early hour to the War Department, and as soon as I met Secretary Stanton, asked him for a special train to be ready at 12 o’clock to take me to Martinsburg, saying that in view of existing conditions I must get back to my army as quickly as possible.  He at once gave the order for the train, and then the Secretary, Halleck and I proceeded to hold consultation in regard to my operating east of the Blue Ridge.  The upshot was that my views against such a plan were practically agreed to, and two engineer officers were designated to return with me.”  Sheridan Personal Memoirs 2:66.