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Candidate Lincoln, a novel

Candidate Lincoln, a novel

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Candidate Lincoln, a novel

244 pagine
3 ore
Mar 13, 2012


What brought Abraham Lincoln to the forefront of American politics? It wasn't his appearance or experience or financial backing. Lincoln was an unlikely politician, and yet his candidacy for the U.S. Senate changed the direction America was headed. Candidate Lincoln puts readers into the crowds during his 1858 campaign and allows them to hear the heated clash of opinions and negative campaigning.

Baldino's historical fiction recreates the campaign that redefined American democracy. Eight different main characters dramatize the conflict that led to the catastrophe of America's Civil War.

Mar 13, 2012

Informazioni sull'autore

Georgiann Baldino has been publishing fiction and nonfiction since 2004, primarily concerning the American Civil War era. Her 2018 book, A Family and Nation Under Fire, from Kent State University Press is a collection of previously unpublished journals and correspondence between Maj. William Medill, 8th Illinois Cavalry, and older brother Joseph, one of the influential owners of the Chicago Tribune. It was selected as a finalist for the Foreword Magazine, Inc. Book of the Year Awards for 2018 in the Adult Nonfiction category. Her newest release, Glory for the Brave, was a finalist in Bob Rich’s 2018 Book Edit Contest.Sample her books and stories at these fine retailers: Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

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Candidate Lincoln, a novel - Georgiann Baldino

What others are saying: Ms. Baldino gives the reader a unique viewpoint. Rosie Klepper, Editor and Author

Candidate Lincoln, a novel

by Georgiann Baldino

Copyright Georgiann Baldino, 2012

Smashwords Edition

Smashwords License Statement

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Georgiann’s other titles

Publisher’s Note: This is a work of historical fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously. When writing a historical novel, the author recreates voices and attitudes appropriate for the time period. Readers should be aware that the subject matter, dialogue and incidents of this novel dramatize passionate divisions that led to America’s Civil War.

Cover Photo Citation: Abraham Lincoln in 1858 from a photograph owned by Hon. William J. Franklin, Macomb, Illinois, taken in 1866 from an ambrotype made in 1858 at Macomb

1. United States—History—Nineteenth Century, 1858—Fiction. 2. Social Reformers—United States—Fiction.

Dedicated to self-made men and women, who earn the respect of others

Principal Characters in Order of Appearance:

1. Scotch Johnston was a free African-American, who worked as a stone cutter in Alton, Illinois. Viewpoint: antislavery and without any civil rights

2. Robert Hitt worked as a stenographer and court reporter. Republicans hired him to take down the Lincoln-Douglas campaign speeches for U.S. Senate. Viewpoint: antislavery

3. In 1858 Abraham Lincoln was a prairie lawyer. Viewpoint: opposed the expansion of slavery

4. Mother Mary Francis DeSales Monholland was a founding member of the Sisters of Mercy. She helped establish convent schools and Mercy Hospital in Chicago. Viewpoint: antislavery but without civil rights

5. Stephen A. Douglas was a powerful northern Democrat, the incumbent Senator from Illinois, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Territories, former associate justice in the Illinois Supreme Court, and someone likely to become president of the United States. Viewpoint: popular sovereignty, each territory should decide what to do about slavery within its borders

6. Myra Bradwell became America’s first female lawyer. Viewpoint: civil rights pioneer

7. David Todd supported the Confederacy, later became a Captain in the Confederate Army, ran Legin Prison and Libby Prisons, and reportedly treated Union prisoners harshly. He was also Mary Todd Lincoln’s half-brother. Viewpoint: pro-slavery

8. Lew Wallace served in the Indiana State Senate as a Democrat. He went on to become a Union general and write the novel, Ben Hur. Viewpoint: moderate Democrat, concerned with preserving the Union

9. Sam Arnold went to St. Timothy’s Academy with John Wilkes Booth. Later Arnold became part of Booth’s conspiracy to kidnap President Lincoln. Viewpoint: pro-slavery

10. Jim Beckwourth was born a slave, but his white father granted Jim’s freedom. As a young man, Jim became a western pathfinder and, for a time, lived among Crow Indians. Viewpoint: lived outside of the law and had no civil rights

A Note to Readers

In 1858 Abraham Lincoln gives up his law practice to oppose Stephen Douglas over the extension of slavery. The Republican Party, formed just four years earlier, nominates Lincoln as their candidate for U.S. Senate. Lincoln has little money or prestige while Douglas is a powerful, wealthy Washington insider. The candidates hold seven joint debates, which are scattered across Illinois and make it possible for large crowds to attend.

The candidates debate in the open air without moderators. Constituents hiss and cheer and throw things. At times the audience drowns out the politicians. Candidate Lincoln goes inside those crowds. Readers hear Lincoln and Douglas wrangle. Their 1858 campaign becomes a primer for every politician who follows, but it is also one of a kind. Though voters have many other concerns, Lincoln and Douglas limit the discussion to two topics—personal insults and what to do about slavery.

Before they take the stage for the first debate, murders in Kansas Territory show the violent path the country is on. Lincoln opens his campaign by declaring a house divided against itself cannot stand. Douglas pounces on the House Divided speech, saying Lincoln will destroy the South or lead the country into war. Though travel is difficult, thousands come in person to hear the candidates speak. No one is disappointed in the spectacle or the debates. Lincoln and Douglas are experienced lawyers, who argue the case of what to do about slavery before the public. Two powerful speakers restrain each other and coach public sentiment. They stir politics and human rights together. Their campaign is contagious; they create a viable mixture. The campaign fascinates the whole nation because Illinois struggles with the same sectional divisions as the rest of country—north, border and southern. The debates unfold in cliff-hanging installments and ignite passions on all sides. Opposing definitions of democracy infect the nation. Within two years the Union is ailing. Within three years it is struggling to survive.

A variety of main characters in Candidate Lincoln represent different political views. Their stories dramatize passions that tore America apart and lead to catastrophic loss of life during the American Civil War.

Candidate Lincoln

by Georgiann Baldino


If I am not safe at Alton, I shall not be safe anywhere. Elijah P. Lovejoy, Alton, Illinois

Every year on the anniversary of Elijah’s death Scotch Johnston returned to the grave. No one in Alton knew where Elijah’s body was buried except Scotch. Locals wanted to forget Elijah Lovejoy lived in Alton and certainly wanted to forget that a mob gunned him down in the street.

When Scotch was sure no one watched, he knelt in prayer. God must have, in His wisdom, chosen Elijah’s name. Old Elijah of the Bible stood up to King Ahab and his Phoenician wife. Alton’s Elijah stood up to slave mongers. Elijah had first settled across the Mississippi in Missouri, where slavery prevailed. He opened a newspaper, hired slaves to help print the news and treated them fairly. When masters hired slaves out to Elijah, it was a blessing, for he made life easier. Elijah wrote about all manner of disaster in his newspaper, the cholera epidemic and the fire that destroyed the best steamboats. The city of St. Louis had pain enough to go ’round. Yet no matter how many troubles white people had, Elijah stopped long enough to also see the black man’s misery, was the only white man Scotch ever saw who cared about all God’s children.

After a while, Elijah wrote about slave pens. Inhuman goings on white folks didn’t want to read, nor hear. Black children pulled away from their mothers’ breasts. Slaves kept ignorant, so’s to keep them down. Teeth knocked out. Starved into obedience. Abolitionists praised Elijah, said what he wrote led the country out of darkness, while slaveholders blasted him and said he endangered peace for one and all.

Then trouble came knocking. People in St. Louis took a black prisoner out of the jail and burned him at the stake before he could stand trial. Elijah wrote about that too—them forming a mob and committing foul murder. In return, his newspaper and home were broken into, the printing press destroyed, even so Elijah kept on writing and caring.

When it were no longer safe in the slave state of Missouri, he moved his family across the Mississippi to Alton. There he wrote more denunciations of slavery, and soon it weren’t safe in Illinois neither. Elijah sought the counsel of God and family and decided to stay. He exercised his right to freedom of the press. If the civil authorities refused to protect him, he looked to God.

The night the mob came for Elijah, Scotch heard a commotion before he saw the cause. Dozens of boots pounded the cobblestones. Alton sat nestled along rising bluffs. The Godfrey & Gilman warehouse lay at the bottom on the Mississippi bank. The mob marched down a steep, narrow street. Shouts echoed between the buildings.

Slavery is natural!

God didn’t make men equal.

Scotch recognized several men from St. Louis. The man in the lead was an overseer. Scotch had cut stone for the St. Louis cathedral under his control. Time and again the man proved himself a miserable drunkard, profane and savage. Rather than give orders, he used a heavy cudgel and cow skin whip. The cathedral rose amid countless tears for the strength to do the work. When a black man faltered, the overseer lashed his back with the knotted cow skin. If the slave didn’t get right up, he bashed his head with the cudgel.

The procession snaked ’round the corner. Men waved guns, or the ones unarmed stooped to gather rocks.

Scotch ran down the back alleyway. The mob beat Scotch to the front door, but he ducked in the back.

Inside Elijah Lovejoy and his supporters guarded press number four, intended for the Alton Observer. Elijah had his younger brother Owen at his side. They expected opposition but not what gathered. The mongrel crowd snapped and snarled. Abolitionist faces grew pale.

Elijah tried to send Owen away. Here’s Scotch. Let him lead you to safety.

Scotch prayed Elijah would come away too.

A voice outside threatened. Abandon the press. A barrage of stones shattered windows.

Those inside the warehouse scurried to mount a defense. Some climbed to the roof and bombarded the crowd with earthenware pots.

Alton’s mayor cried out. Come out. No one will get hurt.

Elijah stood fast.

Shots rang out. Scotch didn’t see which side fired first.

The mob set up ladders against the warehouse. They sent a boy up with a torch to set fire to the roof. Elijah and his supporter Royal Weller went outside.

Don’t— Scotch cried, but Elijah believed in God. Believed if he weren’t safe in Alton, he weren’t safe anywhere.

Elijah pushed over the ladder and retreated back inside the warehouse. Before he got back, they put the ladder up again. Elijah and Weller went out once more.

Scotch watched in horror. Make a stand if you must, he thought, but not tonight. Not against men such as these.

Shotgun blasts shattered the air. Weller slumped, and Elijah went down hard.

He’s hit.

Five bloody spots appeared on Elijah’s coat. Owen rushed to his side. The wounds were mortal. Within minutes Elijah died. Owen’s wail confirmed it.

Men on the street cheered. Lovejoy is dead! The gruesome news carried on the still night air, loud enough to span the Mississippi. Loud enough, in days to come, to rattle the entire country.

Amos Roff tried to calm the mob and got shot in the foot for his trouble.

With Elijah gone, the defenders surrendered. Owen led the group to safety. Because they gave up the press, they were allowed to leave. Rabble swarmed the warehouse and threw the press out a window to the riverbank. They smashed Elijah’s press, dumped the pieces in the Mississippi, drove his supporters away and left Elijah’s body where it fell.

Scotch waited and, when it was safe, carried the body home. He collected poke berries and stained a coffin with the blood-red juice. He dug a proper grave, but only a handful of friends came to witness the internment. Mrs. Lovejoy was too ill to attend. They buried Elijah in the Alton City Cemetery in an unmarked grave on his 35th birthday, November 9, and then everyone rushed away, leaving Scotch to tend to Elijah. White folk feared what came next. If they persisted with Elijah’s crusade, how many murders would follow?

Scotch filled the grave and sang a slave song. Steal away, steal away. Steal away to Jesus. Steal away, steal away home. He disguised the burial site with leaf litter. Left no marker. That way, Elijah might rest in peace.

For years Scotch pondered why an influential man, a newspaper publisher with education and friends all over the country took such risks. First Elijah had passed out pamphlets on the evils of slavery. He came to the cathedral where Scotch worked. Elijah seemed to look at men, not black men or white, but men with God’s breath of life inside. This was new. Elijah took the time to see souls, not the color of skin.

Officials never charged anyone with the crime. Truth was, the sheriff and the mayor saw it happen but never found time to bring the guilty to justice. Elijah died for words, for telling white men they were brutes when they sundered families, knocked out teeth and murdered slaves. His stance was a danger. It belied the very foundation of slavery.

As weeks and years went by, Elijah became known as a martyr. Southerners made a huge mistake when they killed a white man. Yankees told the circumstance of persecution and death all over the North. Northern preachers claimed Elijah had triumphed in his fall. His death opened a wound, unlikely to heal. When slavers gunned down a white man, northerners felt threatened. Most didn’t want blacks anywhere near their towns. Still, if a white man died, slavery was dangerous. The middle ground disappeared. A sink hole opened up and swallowed safety whole. Terror spread to free soil. The South had gone too far.

Every year Scotch marked the date, marked the years goin’ by and waited till the next Elijah arose. How long before a new prophet came? Scotch believed the time was at hand. The time had come.

The founding of the Republican Party was not an act of political wire-pulling, but an inspiration.

Francis Grierson, The Valley of Shadow

Chapter One—Sowing and Reaping

Oregon, Illinois, 1856

Word circulated that the ladies of Ogle County were preparing a feast. No one had to tell Robert Hitt and his brothers, Emory and John, where. The delicious smell of fish frying made it easy to find them.

Men cleaned crappies, bass, plus two aboriginal fish of Illinois, catfish and buffalo. Women scraped and cut flesh into quarter-pound sections. Helpers heaped bushel baskets of fish onto a large table in front of the fry master. Two rows of bricks kept the pans at the right height above the fire. A wagon load of cobs and pine wood heaped at one end created a furnace. A freckle-faced boy fed the flames. The cook worked by feel. With a careless hand he poured out two bushels of meal near the heap of fish then emptied a sack of salt on the meal. Two pounds of pepper crowned the summit. Then he dove in, arms bare to the elbow, mixed and stirred, stirred and stirred until the last piece of fish was well covered. When the master threw the fish into the long string of pans, lard popped and smoked. He strode the row, long fork in hand, prodded, turned and screamed directions at the boy stoking the fire. Every fifteen minutes he delivered one hundred pounds of fish, for 3,000 people wanted to eat.

While Robert and his brothers waited in line, Thomas Cain ran forward. He was a well-known livery man from Ford County. Cain wrapped an arm around Robert’s shoulders. Thank heaven you came.

Robert introduced his brothers, but Cain was not in a sociable mood. Did you bring a notebook?

We came to listen to the speeches. Robert smiled. And to eat.

You should make a record. It’s a disgrace what happened in Bloomington.

Robert said, I heard Mr. Lincoln made a rousing speech.

Rousing? The most compelling statement on the slavery question a politician ever delivered. The fool reporters were so in awe they forgot to write.

Surely Mr. Lincoln has the text.

Lincoln spoke extempore. His brilliant mind conceived and gave birth on the spur of the moment. No one wrote it down and now the speech is lost. Lost— Cain patted Robert’s pockets. "Did you bring your pencils?

Robert had no writing utensils. Just like Mr. Lincoln to surprise folks. He often does it in court, turns cases with very little evidence. He saves the day with the skillful use of words.

I’ll go and find pencil and paper, so you can make a record. Cain ran off.

Robert had no quarrel with taking down Mr. Lincoln, but he had no intention of taking down Martin Sweet or Long John Wentworth, the other speakers scheduled. Those two were not worth the trip. He came to hear Mr. Lincoln. No living man could induce people to vote for Fremont and Dayton better. From court proceedings where Lincoln appeared, Robert knew his powers. Robert’s brothers thought of stenography as a vocation, but capturing a speaker’s full meaning was an art, especially for Lincoln, who varied his tempo and style to suit the occasion, at times languid and dense, other times racing to a conclusion. Without stenographers, arguments spoken in defense were lost—like Mr. Lincoln’s soaring speech in Bloomington—gone forever.

Given proper tools, Robert would do his best, but he had never taken down a speech in the open air. The crowd would undoubtedly shout and jeer. How much of their passion should Robert accommodate?


About fifty minutes into Wentworth’s speech, the man behind Robert whispered. Mr. Wentworth’s ambition goes all the way to the U.S. Senate.

A woman chided him, Shush.

Rumor has it, he said even louder, Wentworth is plotting to throw his weight behind a Stephen Douglas presidency, if Douglas allows Wentworth to run unopposed for the Senate in ‘58.

Shhsssst. the woman said.

Finally Wentworth drew to a close. Mr. Cain was nowhere seen. Writing utensils were dear, and he probably couldn’t find any.

The moment Wentworth left the stump a large proportion of the audience got up to go away.

The chairman rushed forward. Friends, please. Remain and hear the address of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln strode forward, awkward in his steps, gangly in appearance. His ill-fitting dress and strange manner provoked audible laughter. The crowd remained standing as though undecided as whether to stay or go.

Mr. Lincoln got underway haltingly but increased in confidence as he spoke. People eased forward. Gradually they sat down. Before he got long into his message, the crowd grew still as could be. Ones, who had scoffed, now nodded. Robert enjoyed the Kentucky modulations of Lincoln’s voice. Syllables of Lincoln’s high, staccato music

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