I am back in Exeter after two book events: one at Mississippi State and one in Auburn NY.
I was the Constitution Day speaker in Mississippi, and so talked about Seward, the South, and the Constitution. There was a large audience, more than a hundred, mainly students. They listened attentively and had good questions. It was especially interesting to visit the papers of Ulysses F. Grant, now housed at the Mississippi State library. I had assumed that these papers were just the manuscript copies of what has been published in 32 careful volumes; not that interesting or important. But in fact they have thousands of items that were not published, or were only summarized or used in the published volumes, such as newspaper articles about Grant or third party letters about Grant. I will go back, to work on my next book, on Stanton.
In Auburn, Seward’s home town, I spoke to more than two hundred people in the Auburn Theatre. I spoke about Seward’s relationship with Auburn: why he settled there, what he did there, why he spent so little time there. (That was of course a somewhat sensitive subject, but it is true: he spent many many months away from Auburn, and not just because his work required him to be away.)
As one might expect, they were a very “pro-Seward” audience, and they had lots of good and in some cases hard questions. “Tell us about Seward’s relationship with Cassius M. Clay,” one man asked. After the talk and the questions I signed lots and lots of books. Very exciting.
Seward is getting the media attention that he (not I) deserves: I have an interview on Friday with NPR’s weekend edition and a review is appearing soon in the New Yorker.