Book Chat
Lincoln's Sanctuary
Abraham Lincoln and the Soldier's Home
Matthew Pinsker

This chat took place in the Civil War Home Chatroom on 01/16/06 and covered the Forward, Introduction, and Chapters 1 & 2

1/16/2006 9:10 pm (et) ks: We all need to talk about Sanctuary. :) And on that note...

1/16/2006 9:11 pm (et) Babs: Well... The forward made me nervous. I thought it was going to give away all the good stuff.

1/16/2006 9:11 pm (et) ks: Let's confine the first remarks to the material in the Forward and Introduction.
"Lincoln's Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldier's Home" by Matthew Pinsker.

1/16/2006 9:12 pm (et) Vickie: I thought that too babs

1/16/2006 9:12 pm (et) Basecat: I thought the author did a fine job of outlining what the book is about in the Intro. It was like he was having a conversation with his readers, and a fine way to open the book.

1/16/2006 9:12 pm (et) Vickie: With the forward I kept thinking, don't be telling me all this stuff before i read the book

1/16/2006 9:13 pm (et) ks: Interesting. That thought didn't cross my mind. But what did was the sense of feeling rather at "home" myself. Delighted to be back on another Lincoln related book. And after the fairly recent Mary Todd Lincoln reads, this is fitting together quite nicely for me.

1/16/2006 9:13 pm (et) Vickie: like getting the end of a movie before you see it

1/16/2006 9:13 pm (et) Babs: Base, The intro was fine. It was the forward by the other guy that bothered me.

1/16/2006 9:13 pm (et) Basecat: Vickie...You have to understand a little about Professor Boritt...anything new on Abe, and he waxes poetic all the time..:) BTW..He does live on a Farm by the Ford in the Gettysburg area.

1/16/2006 9:16 pm (et) Basecat: Will just add about Professor Boritt, He was not born here, and found out about Abe when he moved to this country, and IIRC started the Lincoln Group that meets in Gettysburg during the anniversary of the battle.

1/16/2006 9:16 pm (et) ks: Even that Forward didn't bother me. :) I figured it was like we were taught in SPEECH class. Tell the people what you're going to tell them. Do the telling, Tell them what they've heard. ;)

1/16/2006 9:17 pm (et) Basecat: By found out I should say studied him more when he came to the USA.

1/16/2006 9:18 pm (et) ks: What was Boritt's country of origin?

1/16/2006 9:18 pm (et) Basecat: IIRC, He is a Czech ks...

1/16/2006 9:20 pm (et) ks: No kidding. :) No wonder I like him. ;)

1/16/2006 9:20 pm (et) Basecat: Anyway, easy to see why Abe moved his family out to the Soldiers Home, as you can tell that Mary wanted nothing to do with the White House after Willie passed away.

1/16/2006 9:20 pm (et) ks: So you're jumping into the meat of the chapters, I take it, Basecat. ;)

1/16/2006 9:21 pm (et) mobile_96: Both needed some relief from the hounding crowds in town

1/16/2006 9:21 pm (et) Basecat: Mentioned in the intro, but yeah is meatier in the chapters..:)

1/16/2006 9:21 pm (et) Vickie: they certainly needed to get away from the constant flow of visitors to the white house I think

1/16/2006 9:21 pm (et) Babs: Yes, it does seem like it would be a good retreat. A little privacy. I didn't realize it was used by other presidents as well.

1/16/2006 9:22 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile, I agree, and had no clue that Buchanan stayed out there when he was President, and obviously must have told Abe about the place.

1/16/2006 9:23 pm (et) Basecat: Thing I found funny, easy to get lost going there, especially after dark...and who knew there was a race track in that area...News to me..:)

1/16/2006 9:24 pm (et) mobile_96: I was surprised on how much time he spent there, Welles didn't even mention it very much in his diary

1/16/2006 9:24 pm (et) Babs: Guess they didn't race at night like they do at the one down the road from me.

1/16/2006 9:25 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Same here. I thought it was a couple of weeks each summer, especially during the bad heat down there. Had no idea it was like his Camp David.

1/16/2006 9:26 pm (et) Basecat: And had no clue Mary Todd went on vacation to Vermont either...Lots of eye opening stuff here this evening.

1/16/2006 9:26 pm (et) Babs: I know we read about Abe in the carpet slippers in some book we read before.

1/16/2006 9:27 pm (et) Basecat: BTW...Long Branch, NJ back then was a lot more poshier than it is now...

1/16/2006 9:27 pm (et) Babs: This stuff must have been in the My Lincoln book you guys didn't read.

1/16/2006 9:27 pm (et) Babs: Did Matt Dillon go there?

1/16/2006 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...Probably was...Vermont thing really surprised me. Also shows how much Abe liked the place, as he stayed out there while she and Tad were gone.

1/16/2006 9:28 pm (et) Vickie: :-)

1/16/2006 9:28 pm (et) ks: The only aspect that's been eye opening to me is that some of the activities I've read about in previous Lincoln reads took place at the Soldier's home. It'd been my *incorrect* assumption that they took place at the White House. I suspect this "Summer White House" of sorts is little known to many.

1/16/2006 9:28 pm (et) Basecat: :) Nope, but HUG did...and was on his way there the night Abe was assassinated.

1/16/2006 9:29 pm (et) Basecat: ks...and hence why it became in need of much restoration, which is going on now.

1/16/2006 9:30 pm (et) Babs: Have any of you been there?

1/16/2006 9:30 pm (et) mobile_96: Agree with that KS

1/16/2006 9:31 pm (et) Basecat: IIRC, It will reopen to the Public this Summer...Will have to check on it though. Have driven by the place a couple of years ago.

1/16/2006 9:32 pm (et) Babs: Is it right across the way from Arlington Cemetery?

1/16/2006 9:32 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...Nope...NE of the Capitol. Closer to Maryland.

1/16/2006 9:33 pm (et) Vickie: I wondered if the cemetery mentioned was Arlington, I guess not

1/16/2006 9:33 pm (et) Basecat: There is a cemetery there as explained in the book, and IIRC was going to be used like Arlington finally was, but they stopped burials there when Abe and his family started using the place.

1/16/2006 9:33 pm (et) Vickie: Don't know the area very well

1/16/2006 9:34 pm (et) Babs: Oh. Ok. That answers the question I was typing.

1/16/2006 9:34 pm (et) Basecat: Vickie...Sorta off the beaten path down there...IIRC though map in the book, those roads are still the same.

1/16/2006 9:35 pm (et) Basecat: Babs, If you noticed in the reading, Mary Todd could see the cemetery from their Bedroom window, and am guessing with the grief she still carried for Willie, not the best thing for her to have to see.

1/16/2006 9:37 pm (et) mobile_96: Kinda strange though, especially as she Loved being there

1/16/2006 9:38 pm (et) Babs: At least she wasn't in the house where Willie died.

1/16/2006 9:41 pm (et) Basecat: Sorry, got pulled away here for a second. Mobile, I agree...she loved the place, but trying to figure out Mary Todd here is way too exasperating for me.

1/16/2006 9:41 pm (et) Babs: Page 32 refers to the cemetery as the "precursor to Arlington". It mislead me to think it was later became Arlington. Couldn't be though, as it was across the road not the river.

1/16/2006 9:42 pm (et) Babs: Base, as they have bee saying in the ads on the History channel, Mary had "issues."

1/16/2006 9:42 pm (et) Basecat: Babs...IIRC, Meigs was the one who decided that Lee's old home would be the National Cemetery in the DC area. Really don't know much about the Cemetery at the Soldier's Home, and am guessing it was started for the older disabled vets who died there during there stay prior to the start of the Civil War.

1/16/2006 9:43 pm (et) Babs: That makes sense.

1/16/2006 9:44 pm (et) Basecat: Babs, am guessing had Willie not died, Mary still would have had issues...

1/16/2006 9:45 pm (et) Babs: I do like that Pinsker discusses his sources to give us an idea of which ones were credible.

1/16/2006 9:45 pm (et) Babs: Base, Yes, she was a sad troubled woman.

1/16/2006 9:47 pm (et) Basecat: Same here Babs, especially that section on the Hamlin visit. Very odd Pres./VP relationship, and maybe its just me, but you rarely read just what Hamlin did while he had the job. Know he was on the Radical Republicans side...but something I need to learn more about.

1/16/2006 9:48 pm (et) Babs: I thought that as I read it. What did the man do for four years?

1/16/2006 9:49 pm (et) mobile_96: Hardly anyone speaks about Hamlin.

1/16/2006 9:49 pm (et) Basecat: Question here, and maybe I missed it...Did the house have a Telegraph there, or did he still rely on the one at the War Department?

1/16/2006 9:50 pm (et) Basecat: Hamlin would make for a interesting book, IMHO.

1/16/2006 9:51 pm (et) mobile_96: Apparently the War Dept only.

1/16/2006 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Reason I ask, the book clearly shows he was out there while the Battle of Antietam was going on...Just wondering how he got word as to what was happening.

1/16/2006 9:51 pm (et) Basecat: Thanks guessing it would not take long to bring dispatches out there via courier.

1/16/2006 9:53 pm (et) Babs: Maybe if there were a book on Hamlin other than the one written by his grandson.

1/16/2006 9:53 pm (et) mobile_96: I think, if he knew a battle was on, he headed for the telegraph office.

1/16/2006 9:54 pm (et) Basecat: BTW...I loved the Whitman passage about seeing Abe coming back from the home. Not even sure if they ever talked to each other, but just a fine description of what he saw.

1/16/2006 9:54 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...When Gettysburg was going on, that's where he spent those days, at the War Department.

1/16/2006 9:55 pm (et) mobile_96: Appears that Whitman, Watched for Abe most mornings.

1/16/2006 9:55 pm (et) Babs: He lived on the route.

1/16/2006 9:55 pm (et) Basecat: Know Abe had read Whitman, and wonder if he even knew they guy who he shared bows with was Walt.

1/16/2006 9:56 pm (et) Babs: I didn't know that Abe went to consult with W. Scott about Lil Mac.

1/16/2006 9:56 pm (et) Basecat: Other thing that made me smile...No one seemed to notice when Abe was coming or going to the Home, unlike today when Bush leaves to go anywhere, it is on live TV.

1/16/2006 9:56 pm (et) mobile_96: Understand Babs, but wondering if Whitman would stand out, weather permitting of course, and wait for Abe to ride by.

1/16/2006 9:58 pm (et) Babs: I think he would, Mobile. Always looking for writing ideas.

1/16/2006 9:58 pm (et) Basecat: Babs, One thing Abe did well, he consulted with everybody, just to hear what they felt etc. As for Scott, am sure he would have gotten a negative report, as Little Mac in effect got rid of Scott as soon as he could.

1/16/2006 10:00 pm (et) Babs: Scott would have nothing to lose by giving Abe his honest opinion.

1/16/2006 10:00 pm (et) Basecat: Another thing I found interesting, as this Government has painstakingly chronicled the history of the USA from the first day, and yet no one even knew which bedroom Abe slept in at the Soldier's home, and really no descriptions as to how the place was furnished either.

1/16/2006 10:00 pm (et) mobile_96: Interesting that Abe considered the ride to the office as a way to talk with the average Joe about how they felt.

1/16/2006 10:01 pm (et) Babs: Good way to put the trip to use.

1/16/2006 10:01 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...I liked that part as well, and probably why I respect Abe so much. He talked to us Average Joes, and actually listened.

1/16/2006 10:02 pm (et) mobile_96: Truly a man of 'the people' in action and not just words.

1/16/2006 10:02 pm (et) Basecat: BTW...Homework for next week is Chapters 3 and 4. Just wanted to post that before the lemming call is recognized..:)

1/16/2006 10:02 pm (et) Babs: That commute also served as a transition time from home to office. He didn't had that when he stayed at the White House. He was always "on".

1/16/2006 10:03 pm (et) Basecat: Babs, I sorta wonder when he was ever off, and amazes to me to this day the stamina he must have had. Know the book describes his bout with insomnia, and can easily see why he could not sleep.

1/16/2006 10:04 pm (et) Babs: My commute is much farther in miles but about the same in time. Sometimes it is good to have that decompression time.

1/16/2006 10:05 pm (et) mobile_96: Over tired, besides depression from the problems he had to solve.

1/16/2006 10:05 pm (et) Basecat: Kinda think a commute on horseback or in a carriage would be a lot more fun than getting in a car here and doing the same.

1/16/2006 10:05 pm (et) Babs: Not many would be able to deal with the pressure he was under.

1/16/2006 10:06 pm (et) Babs: I haven't had my hat shot off en route, but I'm getting ahead in the story.

1/16/2006 10:06 pm (et) Basecat: Right man in the right place and time I guess.  Hard to imagine how anyone else would have done in his shoes, if they had been elected.

1/16/2006 10:06 pm (et) Basecat: LOL...Surprisingly, neither have I..;)

1/16/2006 10:06 pm (et) mobile_96: Thank goodness for no cell phones at the time, or he'd never get a break.

1/16/2006 10:07 pm (et) Basecat: Mobile...Yeah...just had to deal with Drunken Yahoos who showed up there from time to time...:)

1/16/2006 10:07 pm (et) mobile_96: I've been close, on several occasions.

1/16/2006 10:09 pm (et) Basecat: Guessing all are enjoying reading this book. Know I am here, and very well written IMHO.

1/16/2006 10:10 pm (et) Babs: Pretty good.

1/16/2006 10:11 pm (et) Vickie: Yes good book so far :-)

1/16/2006 10:11 pm (et) Basecat: Fine chapters for next week, as we finish reading about his stay out there in 1862. And we get to know more about some of the soldiers who were on his security detail as well.