1861: The Civil War Awakening
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As the United States marks the 150th anniversary of our defining national drama, 1861 presents a gripping and original account of how the Civil War began.
1861 is an epic of courage and heroism beyond the battlefields. Early in that fateful year, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents’ faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal. It set Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom.
The book introduces us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes—among them an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer’s wife, an idealistic band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, a community of Virginia slaves, and a young college professor who would one day become president. Adam Goodheart takes us from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan, from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada, from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island, vividly evoking the Union at this moment of ultimate crisis and decision.
indeed, though vice was not permanently banished from America, the movement did catch on. As Ellsworth crossed the country, new Zouave corps, brilliant in crimson and gold, blazed up like phosphoresence in the wake of a passing ship.56 Oddly, for all the talk of a “nationwide” tour, there was a large portion of the country—about half—that the Zouaves seem never to have even considered touring. On August 4, a steamboat carried them down the Potomac, past the sleepy port town of Alexandria,
with, but she is sublime, and carries guns enough to be formidable to a whole Cabinet—a she-Merrimack, thoroughly sheathed, and carrying fire in the genuine Benton furnaces.”80 Indeed, he had spent precious little time with Colonel Frémont. The Pathfinder was off on an extended trip through Europe in pursuit of capital for his mining ventures—accompanied by his mistress, a certain Mrs. Corbett of San Francisco.81 Mrs. King, for her own part, hardly appeared at Black Point. Irritable and
more disturbing, Olmsted asked whether Northerners, out of their fear of undermining national unity, had “so habituated themselves to defend the South that they have become … blind to the essential evils and dangers of despotism.”78 Indeed, the fire-eating secessionists of Georgia and Alabama were not the only ones who decided that Northerners and Southerners were different nations. “We are not one people,” said an editorial in the New-York Tribune as early as 1855. “We are two peoples. We are a
printed text. By far the longest of these came nearly at the end of the speech. Even today, it is sometimes omitted from published versions. In this passage, Lincoln spoke of his willingness to rewrite parts of the Constitution to accommodate the South—and referred specifically to the amendment that the Senate had passed nine hours earlier. “I have no objection,” he concluded, “to its being made express and irrevocable.”98 The address very soon became—and remains—one of the most selectively
Lincoln appeared, arrayed in garish silk, her plump hand clutching a fan that she fluttered energetically—coquettishly, she seemed to think. William Howard Russell, the acerbic correspondent for the London Times, peered at her through his wire-rimmed spectacles, taking mental notes on every detail of this frontier queen’s curious mannerisms. (They were, he would tell his readers, “stiffened … by the consciousness that her position requires her to be something more than plain Mrs. Lincoln, the