Wednesday, March 11, 2015

If Lincoln Had Lived...

Greetings! Next week we'll be taking on the somewhat weighty appearing, (but actually fairly lightweight) Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, (plenty of copies still available at the 2nd floor desk).

It's a twisty alternate history mystery based on the premise that Lincoln, having survived the assassination attempt of 1865, is impeached for threatening to overthrow Congress. His best chance for political survival rests with Abigail Canner, a sharply intelligent free black woman and lawyer hopeful, who guides the president's legal team (against their will ) into unraveling a nest of conspiracies and murders involving the cream of Washington society.

Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln is a potboiler, but it is based on some historical truths: Lincoln was accused of illegally overriding Congressional authority and of violating constitutional principles such as habeas corpus and press freedom. Also, as the novel makes clear, many of his primary accusers were the so-called "radical" Republicans: led by Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner, who stood for true equality for African Americans and who felt Lincoln was failing in his responsibilities towards the freed slaves by not protecting them from white Southerners. Abigail and the other black characters are torn: do they support "Father Abraham" who ended slavery, or his opponents who were more actively pushing for black civil rights?

George Muschamp as Thaddeus Stevens and Erin Wilks as his biracial housekeeper companion Lydia Smith, as portrayed in Thaddeus Stevens:The Play

Author Stephen Carter has some great discussion questions on his website. I look forward to discussing all this and more with you next Tuesday March 17th, at 7:00 pm, in the Small Meeting room of the Evanston Public Library. Call 847-448-8620 to reserve a copy, or just come up to the 2nd floor.

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