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Lore of the Civil War

Finished the wonderful April, 1865 by Jay Winik. Some of the things I learned from the book:

1. Andrew Johnson, Lincoln VP who ascended to the Presidency on Lincoln’s death was a Democrat. Lincoln chose a Democrat was worried about losing the 1864 election to McClellan.

2. Mary Todd Lincoln had four brothers and three brothers-in-law, who fought for the Confederacy. Two died in the war.

3. What happened after the death of a President was very unclear even in 1865. The VP was expected to become an interim president until a new election. The first two VPs who ascended to the Presidency after the deaths of William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor both saw themselves as President, and not acting or interim. Neither appointed a VP to replace themselves. When William Henry Harrison died, his cabinet proposed to John Tyler, the VP, that all decisions be made by majority rule of the cabinet and that he would have one vote like everyone else. Tyler rejected this decision and acted as if he were the President, rather than a caretaker.

4. Booth also planned to have Andrew Johnson and William Seward, the Secretary of State murdered that night. One co-conspirator lost his nerve and left Johnson alone. The other stabbed Steward numerous times but he lived. It is hard to know what might have happened had all three men been killed that night.

4. John Wilkes Booth was a perhaps the most famous actor of his day and was easily recognized. His annual income was around $20,000 at a time when family income in the North was about $300 a year.

5. The expression Booth shouted from the stage, Sic Semper Tyrannis, (thus always to tyrants) is the Virginia state motto and is on the state flag.


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