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Lincoln's Forgotten Friend, Leonard Swett Hardcover – November 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st Edition edition (November 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809332051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809332052
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“With the publication of this well-documented and well-written book, another of those ‘original Lincoln men’ is rescued from obscurity. Swett was Lincoln’s confidant in the elections of 1860 and 1864. His loyalty to Lincoln may have stymied his own ambitions to be governor or congressman. During his successful post-war legal career in Chicago, he wrote or spoke valuable reminiscences of Lincoln, many of which are published here.”—Mark Plummer, author of Lincoln’s Rail-Splitter, Governor Richard J. Oglesby




“Eckley’s title says it truly: Leonard Swett has long been Lincoln’s ‘forgotten friend.’ But no more. This needed book reveals the important friendship—political and personal—that developed between the men during Lincoln’s midlife (late 1840s on). And, just as important, Swett comes alive for the reader as a fascinating character in his own right.” —Robert Bray, author of Reading with Lincoln




“Robert Eckley’s biography of Leonard Swett brings a special perspective to Abraham Lincoln, focusing on the long friendship the men first forged during their days on the Eighth Judicial Circuit. Eckley portrays Swett as one of the leaders who was most active in securing Lincoln’s presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1860. Swett continued to serve as a very important working supporter through both of Lincoln's presidential elections. Even more, Swett remained a confidante and advisor to Lincoln during his White House years, and Eckley draws attention to Swett’s overlooked and unrecognized importance. This book is a major contribution that shows the lifelong dedication of a friend from Lincoln’s inner circle.”—Ronald D. Rietveld, professor emeritus, California State University, Fullerton

 

About the Author

Robert S. Eckley was the president of Illinois Wesleyan University from 1968 to 1986 and is currently president emeritus. He served as president of the Abraham Lincoln Association from 2002 to 2004 and was honored with their Logan Hay Medal in 2007. He published an article on Swett in the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Escoube on December 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Swett was a contemporary and friend of Abraham Lincoln. As young lawyers, they followed the judicial circuit in central Illinois, picking up cases in county seats. Before the advent of official districts attorneys, this included prosecution as well as defense assignments, so that circuit riders often found themselves in opposition one day as prosecutor or defense attorneys, and the next day have their roles reversed in another case. Lincoln developed a corps of friends and admirers who supported him in county, state and national elections, with or without hope of political appointments. Swett, in particular, would abandon his law practice at the sound of a political trumpet, and only in late middle age settled down to make money at the bar in Chicago.
In the twenty-first century, it can be hard to visualize the vibrancy and opportunity of county/small town politics in Lincoln's time, as well as the constant health and financial insecurity of life in Currier & Ives country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terry Esvelt on December 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Leonard Swett may not be completely forgotten, but he is probably known only to Lincoln aficianados. Swett was almost 17 years younger than Lincoln and became acquainted with him while riding the famed Eighth Circuit district court in Illinois with Lincoln and David Davis (later a U.S. Supreme Court Justice) in the late 1840s and 1850s. Swett became an active supporter of Lincoln's two Senate campaigns in 1854 and 1858, and was Davis' chief lieutenant in managing Lincoln's nomination at the 1860 Republican Presidential nominating convention. Swett provided useful advice to Lincoln throughout Lincoln's campaigns and during his presidency, though Swett himself noted that Lincoln “rarely, if ever asked for opinions. . . . As a politician and as President, he arrived at all his conclusions from his own reflections."

Swett aspired to political success himself, but despite his superb oratorical skills, that success largely eluded him. He was only elected once to a two-year term in the State legislature, but was defeated in races for a State Senate seat, for Governor in 1860 and for the U.S. Congress in 1862. Thereafter, he mostly confined himself to his legal career, where he did achieve significant success largely as a defense attorney. He is credited with helping to originate the insanity defense.

Though he hoped for some kind of political appointment by Lincoln during his presidency, he was disappointed in that aspiration (as did many. He did receive an assignment to negotiate disputed claims to the New Almaden Quicksilver Mine in California, but that turned out to be something of a disaster.

It may be stretching it a bit to label Swett as Lincoln's friend, as Lincoln did not acquire close friends during his life, with the exception of Joshua Speed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dresser on January 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At last, the story about one of the three Maine men close to Lincoln has been told, thanks to Bob Eckley. Leonard Swett, Eli Washburne, and Hannibal Hamlin all with western Maine roots were close friends and advisers to Lincoln. This book is full of historical detail and flows extremely well. The Wigwam chapter is a delight.
I am delighted to be acknowledged in this important piece of American history.

Jay Dresser
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