At Lincoln's Side: John Hay's Civil War Correspondence and Selected Writings


Michael Burlingame provides the third (and the most complete and scholarly) edition of John Hay's Civil War letters. Hey believed that "real history is told in private letters", and the 220 surviving letters and telegrams from his Civil War days prove that to be true, showing President Lincoln in action: "The Tycoon is in fine whack. I have rarely seen him more serene & busy. He is managing this war, the draft, foreign relations, and planning a reconstruction of the Union, all at once. I never knew with what tyrannous authority he rules the Cabinet, till now. The most important things he decides & there is no cavil".

Along with Hay's personal correspondence, Burlingame includes his surviving official letters. Though lacking the "literary brilliance of (Hay's) personal letters", Burlingame explain's, "they help flesh out the historical record, supplementing Roy P. Basler's edition of Lincoln's collected works". Burlingame also includes some of the letters Hay composed for Lincoln's signature, including the,celebrated Letter of Condolence to the Widow Bixby. Also collected here are obituaries of Tad Lincoln and others and previously unpublished lecture, "The Heroic Age in Washington".


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