STANTON: The Life & Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War by

STANTON: The Life & Times of Lincoln's Secretary of War

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Although as Lincoln's Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was one of the most inluential Civil War leaders, he has been the subject of relatively few serious biographical studies; this monumental volume should stand as the definitive record of his life. Born in Virginia in 1814 and educated at Kenyon College, Ohio, Stanton early turned to law as a career. For years a staunch Democrat and also an abolitionist by instinct, he was determined, ruthless, able and haughty, with a talent for making both friends and enemies. In 1858 he was sent to California to settle Mexican War land claims, for which he received both praise and censure; in 1860 Buchanan made him Attorney General. In 1862 Lincoln, whom he had at first mistrusted, named him as Secretary of War, where he reorganized the Department, worked closely with Lincoln and helped shape the course of the War, removing McClellan from command but learning to trust Grant. Continuing in office under Johnson after Lincoln's death, he helped try Lincoln's murderers, became involved in Reconstruction policies, and disagreed violently with Johnson. Politically ambitious and always a controversial figure, Stanton failed to receive the hoped-for presidential nomination; nominated in 1869 by Grant for the Supreme Court, he died before he could take office, in December of that year, at the age of 54. Detailed and carefully documented, heavy in style and content, this substantial volume is one for the erudite rather than the casual reader; an important addition to the political history of the Civil War and to the annals of American biography, it belongs in all comprehensive libraries of the period.

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 1961
Publisher: Knopf