Saturday, February 9, 2013

the last book I ever read (Rise to Greatness by David Von Drehle, excerpt seventeen)

from Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year by David Von Drehle:

The last days of 1862 slipped away. Lincoln salved the hurt feelings of the outfoxed Senate Republicans by agreeing to bend the Constitution to create a new state: West Virginia. Conservatives pleaded with him to block the statehood bill. They dreaded the precedent of dividing a state against its will. After long deliberation, Lincoln signed the legislation, thus rewarding the mountain loyalists while punishing the Rebels in Richmond.

On December 26, a cheer went up in Minnesota when thirty-eight Sioux dropped from a giant scaffold. (One more warrior had been spared at the last minute.) The largest mass execution in American history, it proved to be sufficient vengeance. As Lincoln had calculated, the citizens of the state did not rampage for more blood.

On December 30, the brave little Monitor sank in high seas, the victim of bad weather, not Confederate guns. The next day, Lincoln gave his support to an ill-fated project to colonize Ile à Vache, an island off the coast of Haiti. As a consequence, some five hundred black Americans would suffer, and many of them die, at the failed colony, in a tragic fiasco that would finally close the book on Abraham Lincoln’s worst idea.

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