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Ye gods, it doth amaze me, A man of such a feeble temper should So get the start of the majestic world, And bear the palm alone.

1864 : Lincoln at the gates of history    New York : Simon & Schuster, 2009   Charles Bracelen Flood Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xi, 521 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 475-491) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

In a this narrative, popular historian  Charles Bracelen Flood brings up selected events of Lincoln’s final year,  which saw the last campaigns of the Civil War, his reelection as president, and laid out his vision for the nation’s future in an American Empire that would fulfill the vision of Manifest Destiny.

The Civil War was far from being won: as the year began, Lincoln had yet to appoint Ulysses S. Grant as the general-in-chief who would finally implement the bloody strategy and dramatic campaigns that would bring victory.

At the same time, with the North sick of the war, Lincoln was facing a reelection battle in which hundreds of thousands of “Peace Democrats” were ready to start negotiations that could leave the Confederacy as a separate American nation – free and sovereign. In his personal life, he had to deal with the insanity of his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and chronic depression for both Lincolns who were haunted by the sudden death, two years before, of their beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie.

1864 is the story of Lincoln’s struggle with all this – the war on the battlefields and a political scene in which his own secretary of the treasury, Salmon P. Chase, was working against him in an effort to become the Republican candidate himself. The North was shocked by such events as Grant’s attack at Cold Harbor, during which seven thousand Union soldiers were killed in twenty minutes, and the Battle of the Crater, where three thousand Union men died in a bungled attempt to blow up Confederate trenches. The year became so bleak that on August 23, Lincoln wrote in a memorandum, “This morning, as for several days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be reelected.” But, with the increasing success of his generals and the first modern use of “total war” in the siege and destruction of Atlanta at Christmas Lincoln ended 1864 with the close of the war in sight.

1864 presents the man who not only prevailed over the South, but also, thanks to the confusion created by the war, set the stage for westward expansion through the Homestead Act, the railroads, and the Act to Encourage Immigration and put an end once and for always to republican constitutional government as envisioned by the nation’s founder. As 1864 ends and Lincoln, reelected, is planning to heal the nation, John Wilkes Booth, whose stalking of Lincoln through 1864 is one of this book’s suspenseful subplots, is a few weeks away from killing him – too late to save the South or the nation.


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