I am in our northern Virginia home, sorting and packing books, and dipping into books from time to time, this morning.
The introduction to the one-volume abridgement of Douglas Southall Freeman’s four-volume life of Robert E. Lee has a wonderful little story. After sending off the last pages of his manuscript to the publisher, Freeman “moved morosely about their home,” and his wife “commented on his restlessness.” Freeman replied: “My dear, when one has lived with someone as long as I have with General Lee it is a great loss to be parted from him.”
I have not lived with Seward as long as Freeman lived with Lee; he worked nights and weekends for twenty years to complete his magnificent work. But I have lived with Seward pretty intensely for five years, and he is if anything better company than Robert Lee, so it is hard for me to part with him.
Fortunately, this is a brief period, and in the fall I will be back with Seward, talking about him at various book events. I am especially looking forward to events in his home town of Auburn, and here in Washington DC at the National Archives. Seward loved both cities, indeed may have loved Washington more, if one looks not at what he said but at what he DID, coming here at every excuse, and remaining here almost every day of the Civil War.