The Mystery of "A Public Man," a Historical Detective Story

The Mystery of "A Public Man," a Historical Detective Story

The Mystery of "A Public Man," a Historical Detective Story

The Mystery of "A Public Man," a Historical Detective Story

Excerpt

This little book is an attempt to clear up one of the longstanding mysteries of American history. In 1879 the North American Review, then one of the most widely read of American magazines, published in four installments "The Diary of a Public Man." It was or purported to be a diary kept during the Secession Winter of 1860-1861. Not all the diary was published. Extracts for twenty-one days lying between December 28, 1860, and March 15, 1861, were included. On twenty of the twenty-one days the Diarist was in Washington. On the other day, February 20, 1861, he was in New York City. The name of the diarist was withheld.

Interest in this real or purported diary lies chiefly in two things. If genuine, it is a Lincoln document of capital importance. It is also important and of absorbing interest for its portrayal of leading men and its narration of significant events at Washington during the critical days just before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Before asking the reader to go with me along the detective trail I think it will be well to supply him with a more detailed description of the Diary and especially to make him acquainted with a few of its more significant passages. Thus equipped he can follow the search with added interest and a keener appreciation of the finer points involved in the mystery whose solution we are seeking.

As a Lincoln document the Diary is important because historians and the biographers of Lincoln have depended upon it for several of the well-known sayings of Lincoln and for a number of the most striking anecdotes about him. For all of these, save in one instance, the Diary is the sole authority for the matter in question.

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