By Joshua Zeitz
A well timed and intimate inspect Abraham Lincoln’s White condominium in the course of the lives of his closest aides and confidants
Lincoln’s legitimate secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay loved extra entry, witnessed extra background, and knew Lincoln greater than an individual open air of the president’s quick relatives. Hay and Nicolay have been the gatekeepers of the Lincoln legacy. They learn poetry and attendeded the theater with the president, commiserated with him over Union military setbacks, and plotted electoral procedure. They have been current at each seminal occasion, from the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation to Lincoln’s supply of the Gettysburg Address—and they wrote approximately it after his death.
In their biography of Lincoln, Hay and Nicolay fought to set up Lincoln’s heroic legacy and to maintain a story that observed slavery—not states’ rights—as the only reason for the Civil conflict. As Joshua Zeitz indicates, similar to a humble guy with unusual mind who rose from obscurity to turn into a storied wartime chief and emancipator is particularly a lot their creation.
Drawing on letters, diaries, and memoirs, Lincoln’s Boys is an element political drama and half coming-of-age tale—a interesting tale of friendship, politics, struggle, and the competition over background and remembrance.
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Extra resources for Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image
While the yank minister to Bogotá resigned in 1872 to run for Congress, George appealed to somebody who could listen him out—Senators James Harlan and Zachariah Chandler, vice chairman Schuyler Colfax, Secretary of the Treasury George Boutwell—for an endorsement. that each one pledged their aid spoke to the long-lasting energy of Nicolay’s relationships. That the president gave the activity to a different guy spoke to the bounds of his effect. Later that 12 months, on the prodding of Robert Todd Lincoln, who used to be married to Harlan’s daughter, Nicolay was once appointed marshal of the U. S. ideal courtroom. With rather effortless tasks while the courtroom used to be in consultation, and almost none in any respect while it used to be now not, the publish got here with a snug wage, a plum place of work within the U. S. Capitol, and renewed proximity to Washington’s strength middle. From Springfield, Milton Hay despatched hearty congratulations. He may possibly identify “few greater” assignments and wouldn't, if he have been Nicolay, alternate it for one paying two times the wage. Milton used to be being sort. It have been a long time on the grounds that Lincoln’s secretaries rolled their eyes on the hordes of place of work seekers banging down their doorways for favors. Now, as they approached center age, their point of view on political patronage had replaced markedly. “M. Hay advised me you could have been Secretary of nation in the event you had made any push for it: or Clerk of the splendid Court,” John Hay wrote in jest. “A man’s associates have first-class thoughts for this stuff after the article has passed by. yet you should hold your eyes peeled, and ask with no reserve for whatever you will want. Modesty is the main deadly . . . of vices. ” • • • Shortly sooner than leaving his submit in Madrid, Hay guaranteed his former boss John Bigelow that he wouldn't be with out wherewithal upon his go back to the USA. “I have a certain source of revenue of 2 or 300 cash in traditional times,” he figured, making an allowance for his freelance writing and curiosity in executive bonds, “and that's opulence in Warsaw—where residing expenditures not anything and the place i've got all of the comforts of a house, inside 5 mins stroll of the station. If i am going clear of that bower of blameless repose, I shall spend extra and make extra. ” notwithstanding Hay certainly was hoping to spend time tending to his winery and vacationing with family members, his acquaintances was hoping that he might placed his skills to extra effective paintings. He firstly agreed to hitch George as assistant editor on the Chicago Republican, yet, as he defined to William Dean Howells, the paper was once “hopelessly” mired in monetary difficulty. “Nicolay and that i agreed in advising the vendors to promote out on any phrases, they usually have performed it. ” From Warsaw, the place his “shy little winery made its debut with 240” gallons of “good wine,” Hay advised Nicolay that he were in dialog with their pal Whitelaw Reid, then deputy editor of the New-York Tribune. at the power of Hay’s overseas contacts, Reid was once drawn to delivering him a place because the newspaper’s Paris correspondent, yet after 5 years in another country the possibility of returning to Europe was once unappealing.