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Lincoln On The Verge Thirteen Days to Washington: Chapters 1-5

Dear Book Club Enthusiasts!

Our Book Club has leaped into the New Year, reading a book that is not only very timely in regards to present day political circumstances, it is a book of rich historical substance. Author, Ted Widmer has left no stone unturned in his presentation of "Lincoln On The Verge, Thirteen Days To Washington," the detailed and gripping account of Abraham Lincoln's perilous trip to Washington, D.C. as president-elect.

On a personal note my dear friends, you would be smiling ear-to-ear at all of the "post it notes" that I have falling all over the pages of the first five chapters of "Lincoln On The Verge!" So with that being said, my approach to sharing my thoughts about our phenomenal book selection will be those points of interest(small or grand) that have jumped out and peaked my attention. To critique, or to remotely attempt to comment on Widmer's flawless research of Lincoln's life, his career, and his personal hardships would be for not. Therefore, the following points of interest about Abraham Lincoln, in Chapters 1-5 will resonate with me for some days to follow.

**Walt Whitman, a young carpenter living in Brooklyn who wrote poetry, had a vision of the kind of leader he longed for. In Whitman's mind, he imagined a westerner, bearded, speaking as straight as the prairie grass. Whitman wrote that he would vote for that kind of a man. In the spring of 1860, in stepped Lincoln.

**The arrival to Washington, D.C. of Charles Francis Adams, a Massachusetts congressman, his son's Henry Adams & Charles Frances Adams Jr. Henry Adams first made the trip as a twelve-year-old boy to visit his grandmother, Abigail Adams. Fifty years later, historians Henry & Charles Adams viewed Washington, D.C. as "Another caterpillar that had failed to become a butterfly." They both were grateful that their grandfather, John Quincy Adams had established a scientific institution, the Smithsonian.

**Author, Ted Widmer's introduction of Dorothea Dix, a specialist in mental health, Kate Warne, a spy, & Allan Pinkerton, a Scottish immigrant who developed a career as a railroad detective.

**January 30, 1861, Abraham Lincoln departed Springfield, Illinois for a small town called Charleston. The trip itself was a comedy of errors with several unexpected twists and turns; however, the journey to reunite with his stepmother, Sarah, and the citizens of Charleston was worth the effort. To all that listened to Lincoln during his visit, he praised Sarah who found him after his mother had died and began to make him and his older sister "more human," in her words. I loved author, Widmer's detailed research of Sarah's recollection...Lincoln's mind and her mind seemed to run together...more in the same channel.

**Author, Ted Widmer's detailed description of the railroad systems in the North and in the South. The railroad had shifted the balance of power from the South to the North-the nightmare that Thomas Jefferson had dreaded. Lincoln called America a "house divided," from a railroad point of view. In a country with the world's longest railroads, no one had thought to build a train that ran continuously from North to South. One of the crucial places where North and South failed to meet was Washington-trains could not yet cross the Potomac.

**February 11, 1861, Abraham Lincoln's farewell from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C. Author Ted Widmer's description of Lincoln saying goodbye to the people that knew him and loved him so much. On that day, during that farewell, Lincoln delivered without notes one of his greatest speeches. Word for word, the author notes Lincoln's heartfelt farewell speech on page 120 of "Lincoln On The Verge."

**The accounts of Mary Todd Lincoln, their two younger sons, seven year old Tad and ten year-year-old Willie. The train stops in Indiana, Kentucky, and Cincinnati, Ohio.

**Author Ted Widmer's constant weaving of Abraham Lincoln's destiny-of Abraham Lincoln himself setting the stage for his very own destiny.

I will be looking forward to receiving your thoughts about " Lincoln On The Verge, Thirteen Days To Washington." Onward to reading the next set of chapters...and more than likely even more "post it notes!" :)

Truly yours,


February 13, 2021


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