Posts Tagged With: Abraham Lincoln

New book on the American Presidents

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Of the hundreds of millions of people who have lived in America, less than 50 men have been elected as President of the United States. Some such as George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Grant and Ike were military heroes  (a once common way of achieving the White House). Others with seasoned politicians at the local or national level (governors, senators, congressmen), many of which were attorneys before entering politics. A handful were brilliant global statesmen with impressive resumes of international experience. Some of these men have remained famous and readily come to mind. Others have drifted into obscurity and are rarely discussed today.

What they all had in common was the enormity of the task of leading the United States in an ever changing world, once which over the past three centuries has become more complex and challenging on the international level. Yet, all of these presidents faced challenges unique to their own times, as well as the more mundane tasks of fighting Congress and political opponents, stimulating and growing the economy, protecting the borders and dealing with immigration, and how to properly maintain a military. Some had to face these challenges while dealing with overwhelming personal challenges, either health-wise or family-wise.

Some succeeded. Some failed. All deserve recognition.

Author Kathryn Moore has assembled a comprehensive single-volume book which explores the men who held the position. The new book is entitled The American President: Detailed Biographies, Historical Timelines, from George Washington to Barack Obama (Fall River imprint of Sterling Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-4351-4602-0, MSRP $19.95). At a whopping 678 pages, this book makes a useful reference work, replete with enough details on each man to give the reader a solid overview of the presidents’ views, challenges, family, political leanings, and key issues. She supports the book with a worthwhile website with even more information and background details.

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Brothers Divided scenario book being printed!

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Ivor Janci is busy digitally printing Brothers Divided, our new book with a dozen new original scenarios for Brother Against Brother and similar skirmish-level wargaming rules.  The next step will be to print the covers on a commercial offset printing press and send the text pages and the cover to the bindery. This should all be done in a couple of months! Included in the scenario book is a scenario for the June 27, 1863, Skirmish at Hanover Junction.

I took the above photograph at Hanover Junction, Pennsylvania,  on December 13 at 10:15 a.m., looking south at what in 1863 was the John Scott Hotel, which served as an de facto HQ for the 20th Pennsylvania Militia (well, it was the local tavern / bar, and the Federal officers liked to hang out there in the days before the skirmish). This is one of the buildings needed to play this fun and interesting scenario, in which the Virginia cavalry must chase off Pennsylvania militia and then sack and burn various buildings in the junction area.

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Categories: Civil War books, Scenarios | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Abraham Lincoln as War President

The National Archives and Records Administration’s Great Lakes Region office announces the 11th Annual Civil War Symposium, with this year’s topic being Abraham Lincoln as War President. The event will be held on Saturday October 18, 9:00 AM-5:00 PM at the First Division Museum at Cantigny, Wheaton Ilinois. 

Join prominent historians for a discussion of the Great Emancipator.  Speakers include Paul Finkleman, “The Great Emancipator as Commander-in-Chief and Constitutional Lawyer”; Harold Holzer, “Current Lincoln Scholarship”; Trevor Plante, “Lincoln in the Records of the National Archives”; and Thomas Schwartz, “Lincoln’s ‘Fire in the Rear’: Civil Unrest in Illinois during the Civil War.”  Activities include presentations, period music, and an encampment. Continuing education credits are available for teachers. 

The National Archives-Great Lakes Region also thanks our partner for this program, the First Division Museum.  Their ongoing support of this symposium has been invaluable and madeit an unforgettable experience for all attendees.

For more information or to register for the symposium, contact the National Archives-Great Lakes Region.
Phone: 773-948-9001 E-mail: chicago.archives@nara.gov.

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First visit to Ford’s Theater in Washington DC

My son Tom had not been to Ford’s Theater since his 6th grade class trip from Mentor, Ohio, a decade ago. I had NEVER been to the theater (or even driven or walked past it)  despite a couple dozen business trips and five or six vacations or outings to DC. Today, I took an elective holiday from work, and Tom and I drove from our current home in York PA to Greenbelt, Maryland, and caught the Green Line Metro train down into Washington DC. 

The restored Ford’s Theater was a lot smaller and more intimate than I had imagined. We were unable to visit the presidential box or peer inside, but were allowed to stand in the upper balcony and stare across the theater to the box where Lincoln was shot. The leap down to the stage from there didn’t seem terribly daunting from our vantage point. We were then ushered by the NPS park rangers into the theater’s basement to the Lincoln assassination museum. I had not realized what an awesome collection of artifacts and relics the government has on display in this small museum.

A blood-stained pillow that once cradled Lincoln’s head as he lay dying across the street in tailor William Peterson’s boarding house. Lincoln’s clothes he wore to the theater (his top hat is currently over at the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum in a temporary exhibit while the American History Museum is being renovated).  Mrs. Lincoln’s opera glass case. Booth’s pistol, boot, spurs, rifle, and other personal effects. Hoods, manacles, pieces of the rope used to hang the conspirators. Artifacts from the young couple in the box with the Lincolns. The wooden door to the presidential box with the peephole bored out by Booth. The U.S. Treasury Guards blue regimental flag that Booth caught with his spurs as he leaped from the box after shooting Lincoln. Various pieces of evidence collected against the assassins. Bits of the original wallpaper from the private box. Drumsticks and a violin played that night in the orchestra. Original tickets to the play. A playbill from a March 1865 play in Ford’s Theater starring none other than J. Wilkes Booth, less than a month before he killed the President. Lots and lots more of interest in this hidden gem that I had never visited before.

We then went across the street and toured the Peterson house where Lincoln died on April 15, 1865, at 7:22 a.m. We came out from this somewhat cramped place of reverence, and I was stunned to find that “the American way” was in full effect next door. Greed and tackniess… to the left and right of the Peterson house were very tacky souvenir stands selling the latest Lincoln statues made in China, as well as garish T-shirts, cigarette lighters, coffee mugs, and the like. Of course, in the days following the President’s death, early souvenir hunters swiped whatever they could lay their hands on related to the assassination, so perhaps the modern day vultures should not surprise me much.

The rest of a very long and tiring, but exceptionally rewarding day, saw us visit the nearby Hard Rock Cafe for an excellent lunch, hike through the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and then visit the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (they have a special display on the Civil War movie Glory currently). With some time left in the afternoon, we tramped over the American Indian Museum (visually striking building design and architecture, but a horribly boring place to visit). We wound up going to the Air & Space Museum to see the Moon Flight exhibit, as well as the 100 items temporarily on exhibit from the American History Museum while it is closed. We then walked past the original Smithsonian buildings and castle to the Metro for the twenty-minute ride back up to Greenbelt and the 90 minute drive from there back home to York.

A great day! I had never before been to Ford’s Theater, the Natural History Museum, the National Archives, or the American Indian Museum. Skip the last one and definitely see the others! The Hope Diamond by itself is worth a trip through the Natural History Museum.

Ever visit any of these places? What did you like or dislike about them?

Categories: Civil War sites | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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