My book on Salmon Chase is progressing towards publication on November 9, 2021.
The marketing staff at Simon & Schuster, about a month ago, suggested that the title did not work well. For one thing, the word “Chase” usually suggests Chase Bank, or a car chase, rather than Salmon P. Chase. For another, even with the long subtitle, people were not sure that this was a Civil War book; they were not sure of the Lincoln connection.
So we shifted the subtitle: it is now “Lincoln’s Vital Rival.” It is not perfect, since of course there is much of the book that occurs before Chase even meets Lincoln, and much that occurs after Lincoln’s death. But at least it gets across that Chase was a rival of Lincoln, and that he was “vital” to Lincoln and indeed American history.
Making this change led me to make a few others: I revised the introduction so that it includes much more about Lincoln, and I revised the first part of 1849 to include much more about Lincoln. Chase and Lincoln overlapped in Washington at that time, as Lincoln was “leaving town” after his one term as a Whig member of Congress, and Chase was “arriving in town” for his one term as a Free Soil Democrat in the Senate. They did not meet, but the overlap provided a convenient point to talk about how much Chase had already accomplished for slaves and blacks, and how LITTLE Lincoln had done on that front to this point in his life.
Later this week I will be getting the first set of page proofs for the book. I then have a relatively short time in which to read the whole book, including all the notes, and find and correct errors. My review is not quite that limited; if I find a place where a few more words, or a few fewer words, are needed, I can make those kind of changes. But this is not the point for large-scale revisions; and in any case there is not TIME for such revisions.
This week is also the week on which I will be getting my second dose of the covid-19 vaccine–one day before the pages are supposed to show up. I hope that I do not have severe adverse reactions, that I do not lose a few days of review time to recovery time. But if that happens, it happens; getting protected from the disease is more important.