Lincoln's Other White House

Lincoln's Other White House The Untold Story of the Man and His Presidency BROWNSTEIN, Elizabeth

On June 13, 1862, the Lincolns moved what was left of their family three miles north of the chaotic White House for the summer. Their destination, tradition holds, was a gracious Gothic Revival cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers Home, the nation s first refuge for old and disabled veterans. On a lush, cool hill overlooking the squalid capital, the Soldiers Home promised the Lincolns an escape from the "city of stink," where they hoped to recover from the death of their favorite son, Willie, the previous winter.

But the Soldiers Home soon proved anything but restful. Troublesome generals, contentious cabinet members, touchy diplomats, politicians of all persuasions, old friends, and even curious strangers found their way there at all hours of the day and night.

Sometimes the Soldiers Home was so close to the front lines, the Lincolns could hear cannon fire. Yet everyone but Lincoln feared how vulnerable he was in such a secluded place. He chose to spend an astonishing quarter of his presidency there, including the time he spent putting the finishing touches on the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

But until the National Trust for Historic Preservation began restoration of the cottage, little had been done to explore this missing link in Lincoln s life. For one hundred and forty years, this "legitimate cradle of liberty" remained the most important unknown presidential site in the country.

Elizabeth Smith Brownstein fills in a critical gap. Using diaries, letters, and eyewitness accounts of life at the Soldiers Home, she provides unusual perspectives on Lincoln s relationships with important members of his wartime inner circle and explores his paradoxical fascination with weaponry. Through the eyes of the soldiers who guarded him at the Soldiers Home, she traces the evolution of Lincoln s image as "Father Abraham" and paints a touching picture of the Lincoln marriage. She explains why the Civil War poets and storytellers Lincoln loved played such a critical part during a traumatic period in American history. Lincoln s Other White House is a vivid evocation of a turbulent era, and a distinctive, intimate portrait of our most revered but still elusive president.

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Turner Publishing Company
272 pp.

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