Lincoln's Sanctuary

Lincoln's Sanctuary : Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers' Home

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After the heartbreaking death of his son Willie, Abraham Lincoln and his family fled the gloom that hung over the White House, moving into a small cottage in Washington, D.C., on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, a residence for disabled military veterans. In Lincoln's Sanctuary, historian Matthew Pinsker offers a fascinating portrait of Lincoln's stay in this cottage and tells the story of the president's remarkable growth as a national leader and a private man. Lincoln lived at the Soldiers' Home for a quarter of his presidency, and for nearly half of the critical year of 1862, but most Americans (including many scholars) have not heard of the place. Indeed, this is the first volume to specifically connect this early "summer White House" to key wartime developments, including the Emancipation Proclamation, the firing of McClellan, the evolution of Lincoln's "Father Abraham" image, the election of 1864, and the assassination conspiracy. Through a series of striking vignettes, the reader discovers a more accessible Lincoln, demonstrating what one visitor to the Soldiers' Home described as his remarkable "elasticity of spirits."
At his secluded cottage, the president complained to his closest aides, recited poetry to his friends, reconnected with his wife and family, conducted secret meetings with his political enemies, and narrowly avoided assassination attempts. Perhaps most important, he forged key friendships that helped renew his flagging spirits. The cottage became a refuge from the pressures of the White House, a place of tranquility where Lincoln could refresh his mind. Based on research in rarely tapped sources, especially the letters and memoirs of people who lived or worked at the Soldiers' Home, Lincoln's Sanctuary offers the unexpected-a completely fresh view of Abraham Lincoln-through the window of a place that helped shape his presidency.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 154.9 x 231.1 x 22.9mm | 385.56g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 2 maps, numerous halftones
  • 0195179854
  • 9780195179859

Review quote

"A welcome addition to the ever-growing bibliography of Lincoln studies."-Washington Times "This is an impressive work by Pinsker. It is remarkably well-researched, and he writes with clarity and grace. Pinsker shows us that the Soldiers' Home was a 'personal center' for Lincoln, and that the place had a special 'spirit' in his story as President. That 'spirit' is, of course, a family story, and Pinsker tells it well."-David W. Blight, Yale University, author of Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory "Matthew Pinsker's Lincoln's Sanctuary is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the sixteenth president. Not only does it deepen our knowledge of Lincoln and of the Soldiers' Home, the retreat where he tried to relax; this readable volume offers new insights into wartime Washington and the fighting of the Civil War."-Jean H. Baker, Goucher College, author of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography "An intimate portrait of Lincoln, down to his fondness for padding around in slippers. Writing soberly, Pinsker allows such details to speak for themselves, and most interesting for general readers, they reveal Lincoln's lackadaisical attitude toward his security arrangements. Parallel to quotidian affairs at the Soldiers' Home, Pinsker delves into greater matters that unfolded there, such as Lincoln's receipt of military news or his evolution toward
emancipation."-Booklist "An uncommonly original look at Lincoln during the war years.... Through Pinsker's probing inquiry into sources heretofore surprisingly underused, the ever elusive private Lincoln comes into new light. A book for our time and for all libraries."-Library Journal "Exhaustively researched, elegantly written.... A treasure that no Lincoln or Civil War student can afford to overlook. It offers not only a fine history of the house itself, but also a startling view of Lincoln's little-known life as a commuter president.... Lincoln's Sanctuary compels us to reconsider historic events that we have long assumed unfolded at the White House. Pinsker's prodigious accomplishment demands that we redefine Lincoln's milieu. Thanks
to this wholly original work, we may never be able to look at the Lincoln presidency in quite the same way."-Civil War Times Illustrated "Pinsker's important and fascinating book tells for the first time the story of Lincoln's summer White House, where so many of the major decisions of the Civil War were made. His research has been indefatigable, and Pinsker's findings will be new even to Lincoln specialists."-David Herbert Donald, Harvard University, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln "That most rare of things: a book that actually adds to the Lincoln literature, telling us stories we haven't heard before."-Publishers Weekly "A marvelous book, brimming with new information about the public and private lives of the Civil War president. The author tells a compelling story, based on thorough and impeccable research."-Michael F. Bishop, The Washington Post Book World "Pinsker...uses rarely researched sources to portray a more accessible Lincoln in a place that helped shape him and his presidency."-Blue & Gray Magazine "When you put this small volume down, doubt is dead: Here is a Lincoln we hardly knew.... Pinsker's book qualifies him as new member of the corps of civil war historians who know how to write lucidly for everyone.... A splendid job."-The Washington Times
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About Matthew Pinsker

Matthew Pinsker teaches at Dickinson College and writes frequently about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era. He lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
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Rating details

132 ratings
3.84 out of 5 stars
5 28% (37)
4 38% (50)
3 26% (34)
2 8% (10)
1 1% (1)
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