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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.