Obscure Newspapers

I have worked this morning on a tedious task; compiling a list of ALL the newspapers cited in the Stanton book.  My prior list cited the major newspapers: the New York Herald, the Daily Ohio Statesman, etc.  The new list, what you will see in the book, cites such newspapers as the Charleston (S.C.) Daily News and Flake’s Bulletin from Galveston, Texas.  In total, more than one hundred twenty different newspapers are now in the bibliography.

This highlights the difference between 20th and 21st century research.  In the 20th century, one reviewed newspapers on microfilm, and one could only review a few papers, in the major cities, or in places where one’s subject lived, such as Steubenville in the case of Stanton.

Copy Edit Corrections

I am working my way through the Stanton book again, dealing with the comments and questions of the copy editor.

In some cases her comments are annoying:  for example she wants me to list in the bibliography every newspaper that is cited even once in the notes.  I cite a lot of different newspapers, probably more than a hundred, because I did a lot of the newspaper research through databases, and that leads one to obscure places.  It will be tedious to list them all, but I guess that is what I will do, because I do not want to omit the newspaper list from the bibliography, the other alternative she suggested.


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.

With the copy editor

My Stanton book is now with the copy editor.  What that means is that someone is looking hard for typographical errors, for inconsistencies in capitalization, for proper punctuation.  I have been looking hard for these things myself, in recent weeks, but it is hard to see one’s own errors, and I am sure the copy editor will find some things to change.

August 2017

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.

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.


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.

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?

Smithsonian TV

Tonight, April 18, and probably again a few times in the next few days, I will appear on Smithsonian TV in a show about Lincoln’s death.  Show time tonight is 9pm east coast and west coast.

The producers did a good job of weaving together several interviews, including with people who know MUCH more about Booth and the assassins than I do, with actors portraying Lincoln, Seward, Booth, Powell, and others involved.  They filmed a crowd in a theater to give a great sense of how the crowd reacted to Lincoln’s death and Booth’s escape.  They showed some of the objects involved, including Booth’s pistol and the hoods placed on the defendants.  That “bordered on torture,” one of the experts says, and it is hard to disagree.

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.