Lincoln’s First Crisis: Fort Sumter and the Betrayal of the President

Stackpole. May 2020. 464p. ISBN 9780811739405. $29.95. HIST
Johnson (The Pacific Campaign in World War II) expertly examines the events leading up to the Battle of Fort Sumter in 1861, the first conflict of the Civil War. He takes readers between Washington, DC, and Charleston, SC, in order to dissect the intent and motivations of the main players, including Fort Sumer Commander Robert Anderson, South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens, and Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Having campaigned on a promise to keep a strong Union presence in the South, while also trying to avoid a war with the seceding states, Lincoln’s first few months in office were crucial, and, as Johnson argues, complicated by the machinations of his own secretary of state, William Henry Seward, who was secretly negotiating with Confederate leaders. A detailed and dense work.
VERDICT Recommended for Civil War buffs and those who enjoy political intrigue.

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