Burlingame takes great pains to establish authorship of the items reproduced here. He convincingly demonstrates that the essays and letters written for the Providence Journal, the Springfield Illinois State Journal, and the St. Louis Missouri Democrat under the pseudonym "Ecarte" are the work of Hay. And he finds much circumstantial and stylistic evidence that Hay wrote as "our special correspondent" for the Washington World and for the St. Louis Missouri Republican. Easily identifiable, Hay's style was "marked by long sentences, baroque syntactical architecture, immense vocabulary, verbal pyrotechnics, cocksure tone (combining acid contempt and extravagant praise), offbeat adverbs, and scornful adjectives."
As 1862 dawned, the American republic was at death's door. The federal government appeared overwhelmed, the U.S. Treasury was broke, and the Union's top general was gravely ill. The Confederacy—with its booming economy, expert military leadership, and commanding position on the battlefield—had a clear view to victory. To a remarkable extent, the survival of the country depended on the judgment, cunning, and resilience of the unschooled frontier lawyer who had recently been elected president.
Twelve months later, the Civil War had become a cataclysm but the tide had turned. The Union generals who would win the war had at last emerged, and the Confederate Army had suffered the key losses that would lead to its doom. The blueprint of modern America—an expanding colossus of industrial and financial might—had been indelibly inked. And the man who brought the nation through its darkest hour, Abraham Lincoln, had been forged into a singular leader.
In Rise to Greatness, acclaimed author David Von Drehle has created both a deeply human portrait of America's greatest president and a rich, dramatic narrative about our most fateful year.