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Mourning Lincoln Hardcover – February 24, 2015
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From the Author
I was in New York City on September 11, 2001, and I remember the moment of Kennedy's assassination from my childhood. As a historian of the Civil War era, and as someone who lived through those two modern-day transformative events, I wanted to know not only what happened in 1865 when people heard the news of Lincoln’s death but also what those responses meant.
Did anything surprise you during your research?
Almost everything. Not only did I find a much wider array of emotions and stories than I'd imagined, I also found that even those utterly devastated by the assassination easily interrupted their mourning to attend to the most mundane aspects of everyday life. I also found myself surprised by the unabated virulence of Lincoln's northern critics and the way Confederates simultaneously celebrated Lincoln's death and instantly—on the very day he died—cast him as a fallen friend to the white South.
Do personal responses to Lincoln's assassination tell a larger story about American history?
Very much so. The assassination provoked personal responses that were deeply intertwined with different and irreconcilable visions of the postwar and post-emancipation nation. Black freedom, the fate of former Confederates, and the future of the nation were at stake for all Americans, black and white, North and South, whether they grieved or rejoiced when they heard the news.
Praise for Mourning Lincoln
Top Customer Reviews
Rather than just showing the side of America (and the world at large) that felt sorrow for the loss of the sixteenth president, this author researched, learned and wrote a book that shows both sides of the after effects the death of Lincoln had.
Whilst some were angry, disbelieving and sorrowful over the new of the president's assassination, others were jubilant, relieved or even boastful. This book defines the boundaries between the belief systems of the North and South in a way that I have seen no other book attempt.
Through a multitude of first person accounts, the author manages to paint a picture of the American public after the death of Lincoln and show the reader what was really happening in the minds and hearts of those who survived the event.
From describing the feeling of some that mourning the loss of the president was a collective effort of everyone, to the reality that it was not, the author does a brilliant job of recounting history.
I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who is looking for further information about Lincoln, and the period after his death. A smartly researched, intelligently written book.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
a. Lincoln was mourned widely throughout the North. At least one million persons were able to glance at Lincoln in his casket as the train carrying him to a final burial in Springfield Illinois made its somber journey.
b. The death of Lincoln was deeply lamented by recently freed African-Americans.
c. Most White Southerners rejoiced at the demise of Lincoln except those whose believed Lincoln s death would mean a harsher reconstruction under his successor Andrew Johnson.
d. Northern groups such as the anti-emancipation group the Copperheads were glad Lincoln was dead.
5. In countless sermons the late martyred POTUS was compared with Jesus Christ. Many African-Americans viewed Lincoln as a new Moses.
6. Despite grief most Americans had to continue working each day in the onerous duties of nineteenth century household management and making a living.
7. Soldiers were mostly sad at the murder of Lincoln and sought revenge against Southerners for the assassination.
8. Violence against blacks and those who refused to mourn Lincoln were manifest in every part of the land.
9. Many white southerners considered John Wilkes Booth the assassin as a hero of the South.
10. Mary Lincoln was devastated by the murder of her husband and never recovered from the deep grief she suffered.Read more ›
Quoting a variety of snippets from letters and diaries, we come to see how people reacted when they heard the news and what then followed. The divides not only covered feelings of north and south, but also black and white and men and women. Needless to say, the reactions ranged from deep sorrow from Lincoln followers to venom from his opponents, but Hodes constructs her book to let actual people "talk". With that she gives color to the history that unfolded.
The big question that looms is "why?" Why was Lincoln killed, who really killed him and what did it mean for the nation. Other than the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, many thought that slavery was the undoubted reason. A large number of northern whites, consumed in grief, believed, however, that black men and women suffered the most with Lincoln's death. In the south, after rejoicing at the news, citizens there turned to what would happen next. The pages concerning President Andrew Johnson and his views on Reconstruction are as eye-opening as the book gets. How different from Lincoln they felt he was.
In a few prescient observations, future president James Garfield (who was to be assassinated sixteen years later) wrote to his wife that talking about money or business at the very time was a sacrilege.Read more ›
My rating: 5 Stars
My opinion: As someone who has read several hundred books on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, I had always wondered about the reaction to Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth. The material that I read had never done a deep study of it...until now.
I found this book to be incredibly well developed through the research that this author done. This book is loaded with first person accounts, as well as quotes from both the North and South. The author did an excellent job in not presenting a bias (which is one thing I always look for in the works I review), she had a nice balance of both outrage and support of the assassination. The author managed to accomplish this in a book that flowed well and was inviting to its readers.
While I wouldn't call this book the best book ever written on our 16th President or that period of time in US history, I would state that it is on my top twenty for engagement of readers and the depth and quality of the research.
Source: Netgalley for publisher
Would I recommend? : Already have done so to numerous Lincoln enthusiasts, as well as library acquisitions.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Poorly written, superficially researched, zero point to its existence. This would have made a decent article in a magazine but there is not enough substance for a book.Published 1 month ago by VSteele
I first learned of this book's existence from the Civil War Talk Radio podcast hosted by Gerry Propokovicz, a civil war historian and auther. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Nolan
I have heard the story of Lincoln several times- each time the story ended with Lincoln's assassination. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Archibald
Some people have courage during a crisis, others have enduring courage throughout their lives. Eddie Rickenbacker had unbelievable courage and seemed destined for greatness. Read morePublished 9 months ago by John_C_Wood
Interesting how different sentiments and feelings were expressed at the time of his death in different segments of the population. This book is worth the read.Published 9 months ago by Robert H. Cline
I found this book fascinating. Ms. Hodes provides brilliant insights into the feelings of ordinary, and not so ordinary Americans around the assassination of Lincoln. Read morePublished 10 months ago by T Scott Kearney