Saturday, May 10, 2014

Abraham Lincoln - The Fourteenth of April

(Thought I would share the introduction to my new novel. Would love to get your feedback on it. What do you think of the concept? Does it work for you?

Let me know what you think.)

Editor’s Note

The extraordinary document you are about to read was purportedly written by Abraham Lincoln in the last month of his life.

How, I came by it, is now well known in most circles, but for those of you unacquainted with the details, I will give you a brief run down.

I have been fortunate enough to procure several rare documents on eBay over the years. Among them an 1822 paper detailing the autopsy of Napoleon Bonaparte written by his physician; a letter from George Washington, written during the darkest days at Valley Forge, suggesting to Congress that they should surrender the cause; a 1789 printing of the Declaration of Independence, printed side by side with Jefferson’s original notes, and beside it, an actual autograph by Thomas Jefferson.

But, this is by far, my most amazing discovery.

The bidding on eBay was fast and furious for this collection of Civil War memoirs. What caught my eye was the seller’s opening line,

…hand written manuscript, dated April 15th, 1865. First paragraph reads as follows, “Made a speech outside of the White House today (April 11). With the war over, Lee having surrendered just two days ago, I could finally speak my peace on the blacks. I expressed my opinion that we should embrace ‘the elective franchise for the colored man.’ That night, Mary told me she saw the actor, J. Wilkes Booth watching my talk.”

Note: Inscription on inside cover dated – March 15, 1865. A.L.

The letters, A. L. got my juices flowing. Lincoln signed most of his correspondence A. L.

Ever since the assassination there have been rumors of a Lincoln autobiography, but to my knowledge no one has ever laid eyes upon it.

My own knowledge of it was vague. Years ago, I’d read bits about it in the letters of John Hay, the President’s personal secretary. Several times he said he’d entered the President’s office, and each time, “Lincoln shuffled papers around, hiding something he was working on. At first, I thought it was a letter from Robert [Lincoln’s oldest son]; General Grant had given him leave from the battlefield to visit. But several more times I caught him hiding papers when I entered his office. Nicolay said the same thing had happened to him. He said he’d caught a few glimpses of it, and it looked like Abe was writing the story of the war.”

Nothing else was said.

 After acquiring the document, I showed it to several Lincoln experts. Like all experts, they were divided on its authenticity. Three of them said there was no doubt, that it was real. Three more, said the facts were incorrect in several places and the writing although very much like Mr. Lincoln’s, it could not be proven conclusively.

The date on the inscription was April 15th, the Great Man’s last day upon this earth. That, coupled with Mary Lincoln taking note of Booth in the audience, listening to Lincoln’s last speech is amazing enough. As I read on, Lincoln shared in great detail three separate attempts upon his life. His descriptions of his contemporaries are scathing; his faith in Grant, unshakeable; the details on some of the battlefields he visited – graphic and gory.

More startling, are his accounts of meetings with J. Wilkes Booth, at several White House receptions, early in his administration.

If only half of the information in this manuscript is accurate, it could cause a rewrite of the Civil War as we know it.

Lest I spill any more secrets, read on, and discover the details for yourself…