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The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones…

Photo shows a Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad engine, with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln mounted on the front. The engine was one of several used to carry Lincoln’s body from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Ill.

Currently there is a movie about Lincoln playing starring Daniel Day Lewis and we feel justified in saying that there is not a word of truth in it. Rather than the liberal icon of liberator Lincoln was a lifelong believer in the inequality of the races and was guided by the assumption that blacks were not fit to occupy the “new” America being built by white immigrants in the west. Conveniently missing is his huge body of rhetoric to this effect and the fact that on the same day he signed the emancipation proclamation he signed a contract to forcibly deport 5,000 blacks to Haiti.

It is easy to see how the icon was born. After his tragic assassination – and make no mistake it was tragic – the Lincoln industry grew up. His image would be used to advertise everything from antacids to zippers. His “spirit” could be – and was – invoked to support everything from antitrust legislation to xenophobia. The funeral was the first great act of branding in the “nation” he created. This book recounts the orgy of grieving that would have been more becoming in some ancient tribe than a modern republic.

An illustrated sheet music cover for an anti-Confederate comic song. Confederate president Jefferson Davis stands on a bale of cotton and asks John C. Breckinridge, former U.S. Vice President and fellow secessionist, to “Black Me.” Breckinridge, in military uniform, complies and begins to paint Davis’s face with blacking. Around Breckinridge’s feet coils a “Copperhead,” symbol of the Peace Democrats. Another snake winds around the broken, inverted staff of a Union flag. At right a grinning black man sits on boxes of “Butler’s Blacking” and holds a tin of blacking in his hand. The name “Butler” probably refers to Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, a figure despised in the South. Among other things, Butler had forced U.S. Negro troops to fight the Confederacy – often with tragic consequences for both sides. At left under the heading “Memminger’s Funeral Pile,” bare-chested Confederate secretary of the treasury Christopher G. Memminger is partially submerged in a pile of C.S.A. bonds. Under his management, the Confederate Congress issued so many bonds that the people doubted its ability to redeem them, and prices skyrocketed. “Repudiation” appears in large letters on one of the bonds which was part of the union policy during reconstruction to impoverish Southerners who had supported their own cause for freedom.

You could not imagine a more polar opposite for Abraham Lincoln than Jefferson Davis. Lincoln was the politician hiding guile and cunning between bouts of bombast and periods of sphinx like inscrutability. Davis probably never won a popular election in his life – he had been elected to the Senate by the legislature and he was elected to the presidency of the Confederacy by the State Secession commissioners. He was elegant, eloquent and precise and the last virtue may have finally been why he failed the Confederacy that he loved far more than Lincoln ever loved anything. When the north finally found that they could not try him as a traitor they quietly let him go, without so much as an apology, and he returned to the South he loved and that loved him in return. The book does not do him justice – but we never expected it would.

Photo shows coffin in horse-drawn wagon as the “funeral procession for Jefferson Davis winds through the French Quarter in New Orleans on December 11, 1889. An estimated 200,000 people lined the streets. Davis died early on December 6, and over 70,000 people viewed his remains at New Orleans City Hall. The body was laid to rest in a vault in Metairie Cemetery, then was taken to Richmond in 1893 and reinterred at Hollywood Cemetery.

Bloody crimes : the chase for Jefferson Davis and the death pageant for Lincoln’s corpse New York : William Morrow, 2010 James L. Swanson Davis, Jefferson, 1808-1889  Captivity, 1865-1867, Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865  Death and burial Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xiv, 464 p. : ill., maps : ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG  

Print shows the funeral procession of President Abraham Lincoln after leaving New York City Hall, with spectators lining the street. The area above the procession is taken up by an advertisement for W.M. Raymond & Co., manufacturers of metallic burial cases and caskets.

On the morning of April 2, 1865, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, received a telegram from General Robert E. Lee. There is no more time —  the Yankees are coming, it warned. Shortly before midnight, Davis boarded a train from Richmond and fled the capital, setting off an intense and thrilling chase in which Union cavalry hunted the Confederate president.

Photograph shows many women dressed in white accompanying President Lincoln’s hearse as it passes beneath ornamental arch at 12th Street in Chicago, Illinois.

Two weeks later, President Lincoln was assassinated, and the nation was convinced that Davis was involved in the conspiracy that led to the crime. Lincoln’s murder, autopsy, and White House funeral transfixed the nation. His final journey began when soldiers placed his corpse aboard a special train that would carry him home on the 1,600 mile trip to Springfield. Along the way, more than a million Americans looked upon their martyr’s face, and several million watched the funeral train roll by. It was the largest and most magnificent funeral pageant in American history.

Methodist Bishop Matthew Simpson delivered a eulogy before the President’s burial in Springfield,Illinois. Simpson finished his eulogy by saying: “Chieftain farewell! The nation mourns thee. Mothers shall teach thy name to their lisping children. The youth of our land shall emulate thy virtues. Statesmen shall study thy record and learn lessons of wisdom…”

To the Union, Davis was no longer merely a traitor. He became a murderer, a wanted man with a $100,000 bounty on his head. Davis was hunted down and placed in captivity, the beginning of an intense and dramatic odyssey that would transform him into a martyr of the South’s Lost Cause. The saga that began with Manhunt continues with the suspenseful and electrifying Bloody Crimes. James Swanson weaves together the stories of two fallen leaders as they made their last expeditions through the landscape of a wounded nation.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,

 

 

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