Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary
Edwin Stanton was not a preferred candidate to help run the logistics of the Union’s war effort. Stanton was a man of a dual nature, a Democrat who served in the waning days of the lame duck Buchanan administration but served effectively in a Republican administration. Stanton’s ancestors consisted of Quakers who abhorred slavery and others who held slaves. Stanton had achieved fame as an accomplished lawyer in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He had argued before the Supreme Court and tried land cases in California for the government. His star was on the rise when he was picked as Attorney General in 1860. Stanton helped steer a tenuous ship in the early days of the Civil War, and this would lead to his War Secretary position in 1862. From there, fame and infamy awaited. It would be a role not forgotten, for better or worse.
Walter Stahr has written an exemplary biography of an enigmatic statesman in Edwin Stanton. Stahr notes in the book that there is good and bad to pick from in Stanton’s life. Stahr doesn’t hold his subject to scorn, but he also doesn’t put him on a pedestal. He dispels myths and misconceptions and holds Stanton in the light that he should be seen in…an imperfect man who helped save a fractured Union. A+ storytelling.
Simon & Schuster