I am just back from the Lincoln Forum in Gettysburg, where I spoke about my Chase book. CSPAN was there, taping, and when tape is available I will put it up here on the website.
Lincoln Forum is a wonderful annual event, a gathering of authors and experts and enthusiasts. Lots of interesting side conversations. For example, I learned that a collection of Gideon Welles papers, including additional diaries, just changed hands for more than $250,000. A number of folks at the Forum urged me to find those papers, and use them, to write a new biography of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy for Lincoln and then Johnson. I may do that, but after Taft.
I stopped, yesterday, on my way home, at the Library of Congress to continue work on Taft. They have about a million pages in the Taft collection, but I was not looking at that, I was looking at other collections, such as Melville Fuller, one of Taft’s predecessors as Chief Justice, whom Taft knew when he was Solicitor General from 1890 to 1892.
Perhaps most interesting was the Mabel Boardman collection: she was a close friend, and there are letters in the Boardman collection that are not in the Taft collection. The distinction seems simple: when Taft was with his secretary, Wendell Mischler, and typed his letters to Boardman, those letters are in the Taft collection. When “Misch” as he was known was on vacation, and Taft wrote handwritten letters to Boardman, those are NOT in the Taft collection, they are in the Boardman collection. There are some interesting / important letters from the spring of 1921, as Taft and friends pressed Warren Harding to name Taft as Chief Justice.
The folks at the Lincoln Forum, of course, would prefer that I tackle Gideon Welles or Montgomery Blair rather than William Howard Taft. But I am a long way into Taft now, and I have signed a contract, and I am going to write the book. He needs a good book.