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262civil war history tal operations and inter-departmental rivalries. Welles' delegation of authority regarding personnel matters, naval operations, and purchasing brought criticism from cabinet members, congressmen, and naval officers. Some questioned his capacity to handle his responsibilities (in an appendix Niven argues that Welles was indeed the senior decisionmaker in his department), while others pointed to the civilians (especially Welles' brother-in-law) who were prospering from naval contracts . Never a member of Lincoln's inner circle, Welles stands out as a hardnosed, suspicious administrator constantly on the defensive— and who in a tiny, cramped hand recorded in his diary a measure of praise for himself, and at the same time depreciated the merits and actions of others. After Lincoln's assassination, Welles remained in the cabinet, offering advice and encouragement to Andrew Johnson; he clashed repeatedly with Stanton and developed a deep-seated contempt for Grant. Upon retirement, he settled in Hartford, wrote about his wartime experiences, and published a book entitled Lincoln and Seward (1874), which was the first major promotion of the Lincoln legend. Niven's focus on Welles' political career presents problems. In the first place, this emphasis makes the reader feel that the volume is more of a "life and times" study than a biography. In a sense, Welles seems to live and move behind plate glass, his personality not being fully felt. More use of quoted matter from his diaries and letters would have remedied this. Also, the discussion occasionally becomes greatly detailed and the subject seems submerged—or Welles shares the stage with other figures (e.g. John Miles) for extended periods. One wonders, too, what Miles, Lincoln, Stanton, Seward and other said about him. In addition, the book has certain mechanical weaknesses. The text should have had a closer reading for typos (beginning about p. 400) and the index checked for inclusiveness. The proper names Morris, Dahlgren, Warrington, Porter, etc. are not indexed as appearing on page 213, and this applies to many other pages as well. The book is attractively designed, has two dozen illustrations, and an extensive bibliography. This is an important study, one that should be on the shelf of every student of nineteenth century politics. Harwood P. Hinton University of Arizona The President's Wife, Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography. By Ishbel Ross. (New York; G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1973. Pp. 378. $8.95.) This is a sympathetic biography of the woman, who, as one of her contemporaries , Katherine Helm, said "was truly a victim of the cruel times in which she lived, a suffering, innocent creature, whose only crime was her prominence." In a large fashion Mrs. Ross proceeds to examine the criticism and intense hatred directed toward Abraham Lincoln's wife and widow during much of her later years. book reviews263 Coming from the Midwest, Mrs. Lincoln was considered a westerner in boots by the beautifully gowned ladies of Washington society. Elegant Kate Chase was to upstage the President's wife, though Mary Lincoln was never one to cringe or wilt in the face of a challenge to her prerogatives. Never one to hold or mask her temper Mrs. Lincoln's outbursts invariably gave her a bad press, which her secretaries lamented but could do nothing about. She was "good copy" for the newspapers of the country and what would pass as a natural flareup over a very good cause in any private home was magnified out of proportion by the nation's reporters. When Mrs. Lincoln did a good deed it generally went unnoticed, her secretaries reported, mainly because she did it spontaneously and without bothering to notify the papers. Criticisms still heard today indicate a belief that on one hand Mrs. Lincoln made life miserable for her husband while on the other hand, Lincoln was less than considerate of his wife and treated her rather coldly. Mrs. Ross cites many of Lincoln's associates to disprove both of these fables, Henry B. Rankin, who studied with Lincoln in 1856, "observed that his wife was never the cause (of Lincoln's depression) but was invariably his comforter. He thought she was the only person who had the skill and tact to charm him out...


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