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178CIVIL war history Silent and apparently unconcerned about slavery, Belmont now entered the most important phase of his career from the standpoint of national political history. As a result of his fund raising and organizing efforts for Douglas, the regular Democratic National Committee elected Belmont to the party's national chairmanship in June, 1860. This was a post he was destined to hold through the agonizing years of the Civil War and its aftermath, until 1872 in fact. That these were especially grim years for the Democratic party was certainly a fact beyond Belmont's control. But Professor Katz hardly illuminates the matter when he suggests that Belmont, bitterly and personally assailed by Republicans during and after the war, was motivated by "two strong and conflicting principles: loyalty to the idea of an indivisible union, and loyalty to the party which had caused that union's rupture." That the Democratic party "caused" the national schism is indeed a curious, unexplained notion of Professor Katz. At any rate, the clearest "principle" that does emerge from Belmont's career is his strong aversion to Greenbacks or any other threat to "sound" money. Professor Katz concludes that "there was a certain tragic course to the life of August Belmont. A success in the worlds of international finance, society, and culture, he chose to venture deeply into a different world—politics—where he was thwarted at almost every turn." Unfortunately , this political biography is largely lifeless, save for lavish illustrations , and neither reveals much insight into the human being's "tragic course" nor sheds much helpful light on the world of American politics in the nineteenth century. Robert F. Durden Duke University A Portrait of Abraham Lincoln in Letters by His Oldest Son. By Paul M. Angle. (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1969. Pp. xiii, 92. $6.95.) Robert Todd Lincoln: A Man in His Own Right. By John S. Goff. (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969. Pp. xv, 286. $7.95.) Few men in American history have been more maligned, misunderstood and misinterpreted than Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. The fact that he was his father's son denied him the fundamental right to live his own life purely on his own merits. Yet his was a life of great accomplishment and service as Cabinet member , diplomat and businessman, indeed a life deserving of study. Speaker Joseph Cannon once observed: "The public, I do not suppose , ever will come to regard the man at his true worth." These two books testify to the worth of the younger Lincoln, presenting him as unique among the sons of Presidents, and thus correcting the unkindness of the years. book reviews179 John S. Goff has attempted to appraise the enigma of Robert Lincoln and present him as "a man in his own right." For the most part, he is successful. A biographer's chief tools are the letters and other written records of his subject. These Robert Lincoln purposely denied his own biographer in ample portion. This presidential offspring never wished to be the subject of such a "life." It was his firm conviction that an individual's personal life is no concern of the public and he acted on that conviction, even in the last quarter century of his life when he was "philosophically a living relic of a bygone era." The letterpress books of his own writings are not available, and if these survive, their whereabouts remain unknown to the historian. The remaining letters are scattered across the nation. Goff has attempted to supplement these manuscripts with contemporary accounts from newspapers. The result is an able biographical portrait of a man whose dutiful and competent career was darkened by the tragedy of the previous generation. Robert Lincoln has suffered at the hands of historians and biographers . His tragic role in the commitment of his mother in 1875 was widely misinterpreted, and he was accused of a cruel and unfilial act. This increased an already apparent aversion to publicity, an aloofness which engendered charges of snobbishness. The fact that this wealthy, powerful man lived as an aristocrat, and withheld or destroyed historical material, earned him unflattering sobriquets from historians. Carl Sandburg...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 178-180
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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