Michael Burlingame, Sixteenth President-in-Waiting
Dr. Michael Burlingame’s Sixteenth President-in-Waiting ives us a new view of the President –elect from an eyewitness’s pen.
Between Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860 and his departure for Washington three months later, journalist Henry Villard sent scores of dispatches from Springfield, Illinois, to various newspapers describing the president-elect’s doings, quoting or paraphrasing his statements, chronicling events in the Illinois capital, and analyzing the city’s mood.
Michael Burlingame has collected all of these dispatches in one insightful and informative volume. Best known as a successful nineteenth-century railroad promoter and financier, German-born Henry Villard (1835–1900) was also among the most conscientious and able journalists of the 1860s.
The dispatches gathered in this volume constitute the most intensive journalistic coverage that Lincoln ever received, for Villard filed stories from the Illinois capital almost daily to the New York Herald, slightly less often to the Cincinnati Commercial, and occasionally to the San Francisco Bulletin.
Lincoln welcomed Villard and encouraged him to ask questions, as he was the only full-time correspondent for out-of-town papers. He spoke with inside sources, such as Lincoln’s private secretaries John G. Nicolay and John Hay, devoted friends like Jesse K. Dubois and Stephen T. Logan, political leaders like Governor Richard Yates, and journalists like William M. Springer and Robert R. Hitt.
Not only informative but also highly readable, Villard’s vivid descriptions of Lincoln’s appearance, daily routine, and visitors, combined with fresh information about Springfielders, state political leaders, and the capital, constitute an invaluable resource.
“… Villard’s well-written newspaper reports from Springfield are the best source that we have on Lincoln during the critical months after his election, when he was waiting to become president, and as secession was unfolding in the lower South. General readers as well as historians owe Burlingame a debt of gratitude for this valuable edition of Villard’s dispatches.”—William C. Harris, author of Lincoln and Congress.
Burlingame, Michael. Abraham Lincoln and the Springfield Dispatches of Henry Villard, 1860-1861. Carbondale: 2018. 1st edition, 407 pages, hardcover, Signed on Bookplate.