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Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
03-03-2021, 03:13 PM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2021 03:48 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #1
Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
Written by William O Stoddard, one of Lincoln's secretary's.
The book is about 180 pages long, originally written in 1890.

While this may not be an essential book on Abraham Lincoln it's close.
It is written in a different style. He writes as if he was having an informal conversation with you, giving your a tour of the White House and the events that have transpired. He writes about many of Washington officials without mentioning their name, as if you knew who he was talking about. It does take a little getting used to, and you do have to pay attention to what he says or he will loose you, but it is an easy book to read. Not overly detailed.

The book mainly describes the activities he handles, life inside the White House and around Washington DC, but not a day to day description of Lincoln's activities. One of Stoddard's responsibilities is the opening of the White House mail, especially Mary's mail. He seems to have a better relationship with Mary than almost anyone else in the White House. He seems to understand better than most the pressure Mary is under, her mood swings. Stoddard also briefly describes all the hate mail both Lincolns get.

He does a good job of describing Lincoln's work routine, pressure he is under, and
his personality while in the White House. Not big on details, but enough information to realize what an incredibly difficult job this was for Lincoln.

My only complaint, there is no index. After reading this book, I've become a Stoddard fan and hope to obtain some of his other books on Lincoln.
In some future posts I'll add some of the specific passages of this book that I think you will find interesting.

Stoddard's books, when you can find them are not cheap. This is one of the more affordable ones. My copy is a new softbound reprinted copy purchased from Amazon for $8.95 - The Amazon book preview is pretty good.
https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Lincolns-W...730&sr=8-2

It's also available on Internet Archive - https://archive.org/details/insidewhiteh...9/mode/2up

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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03-03-2021, 03:35 PM
Post: #2
RE: Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
Thanks, Gene. It seems John Hay and John Nicolay are often thought of as Lincoln's secretaries with Stoddard being the forgotten one.
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03-03-2021, 03:52 PM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2021 03:52 PM by Gene C.)
Post: #3
RE: Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
A little note - The title of the book on Amazon and Internet Archive is/are slightly different, but they are the same book.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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03-03-2021, 04:44 PM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2021 04:59 PM by Anita.)
Post: #4
RE: Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
Gene, thanks your recommendation. I read this as a free book on line several years ago and agree with your review. I've been a fan. Do you think the lack of footnotes hurt his credibility as it did Carl Sandburg's?

Here's an depth review worth reading.

William O. Stoddard. Inside the White House in War Times: Memoirs and Reports of Lincoln's Secretary. Edited by Michael Burlingame. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000. xxi + 226 pp. $25.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8032-9257-4.

Reviewed by Carey M. Roberts (Department of Social Sciences, Arkansas Tech University) Published on H-DC (April, 2002)
https://networks.h-net.org/node/28441/re...nd-reports

This is from an article http://www.mrlincolnandfriends.org/the-s...-stoddard/

"Although Stoddard thought he worked hard, his colleague John Hay disagreed, describing Stoddard as “worthless. I can scarcely rely upon him for anything.”8 Historian Michael Michael Burlingame noted that Hay took frequent potshots at Stoddard in his letters to John G. Nicolay “Hay thought Stoddard asinine as well as stuffy. ‘Stod[dard] has been extensively advertising himself in the Western Press,’ he told Nicolay in August 1864. ‘His asininity which is kept a little dark under your shadow at Washington blooms & burgeons in the free air of the West.'”9 Stoddard himself was publicly laudatory of Hay in later sketches of the White House years written for the New York Citizen. He recalled that he was assigned to a White House room “in companionship with the versatile and brilliant Hay.”10 "
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03-04-2021, 08:59 AM
Post: #5
RE: Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
Personally, I don't think the lack of footnotes hurts Stoddard's credibility, he's mainly writing about his own observations instead of someone else's.

Not sure I agree with Hay or Nicolay and their assessment of Stoddard. Since Stoddard was the third secretary, he was "the odd man out"
Stoddard was the only one of the three who could get along with Mrs Lincoln. Nicolay and Hay "dumped" the responsibility of dealing with her on Stoddard. But they knew him and worked with and I didn't. He just seems to have a different personality than the other two.

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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03-06-2021, 12:47 PM
Post: #6
RE: Inside Lincoln's White House In War Times
(03-04-2021 08:59 AM)Gene C Wrote:  Personally, I don't think the lack of footnotes hurts Stoddard's credibility, he's mainly writing about his own observations instead of someone else's.

Not sure I agree with Hay or Nicolay and their assessment of Stoddard. Since Stoddard was the third secretary, he was "the odd man out"
Stoddard was the only one of the three who could get along with Mrs Lincoln. Nicolay and Hay "dumped" the responsibility of dealing with her on Stoddard. But they knew him and worked with and I didn't. He just seems to have a different personality than the other two.

À few months ago, during second lockdown here in France, I happened to browse Stoddard book. His POW is interesting and I really enjoyed his narrative present storytelling. It's like we are back in time, and he's taking us by his side for a tour of his Lincoln White House.
The fact that he was the "odd guy" comes also from the knowledge Stoddard not only had a better relationship with Mrs L, but that he was there only during daytime, while Hay and Nicolay lived in the house. Surely it changed relationship with the First family and colleagues. That said, Although both Nicolay and Hay were there 24/7, excepted for meals (heard BTW Lincoln wanted them sometimes as his table guests but Mrs L opposed), the one closer emotionally to his boss was Hay.
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