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A day before his fifty-second birthday in February 1861, Abraham Lincoln boarded the Presidential Special to begin a 1,900-mile journey by rail from his Illinois home to his inauguration in Washington. It was to be a long, tumultuous and dangerous trip through hundreds of towns where millions saw and heard Lincoln as he prepared to take office with the country hurtling toward the Civil War. Historian Ted Widmer, a Distinguished Lecturer at Macaulay Honors College and former presidential advisor, tells the dramatic story of Lincoln’s passage to history in Lincoln on the Verge: 13 Days to Washington.
“It’s the story of thirteen days in the life of Lincoln. He’s been elected president, the South is seceding, Washington is falling apart and somehow out of all of this chaos he’s got to get on a train, go two thousand miles, meet millions of Americans and try to avoid an assassination attempt. . . It’s not just to save the North, it’s to save the entire country, the United States of America, the most successful democracy on earth . . . It felt to me like something out of Greek mythology or any of the old epics from a lot of different civilizations where someone has to fight against terrible odds, almost as if the gods are against him to get to his destination to fulfill his quest. It felt bigger than a story out of American history to me.” –Ted Widmer
More about Lincoln on the Verge
More about Ted Widmer
The Guardian: Amid a new crisis, a timely new book on Lincoln
From The New York Times “Disunion” series: Lincoln on the Move
CUNY SUM: Abraham Lincoln’s Harrowing 13-Day Mission to Secure the Presidency