Lincoln's Wrath: Fierce Mobs, Brilliant Scoundrels and a President's Mission to Destroy the Press Hardcover – Jan 18 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
At the center of this overwrought Civil War account is the tiny town of West Chester, Pa., where John Hodgson ran a pro-Southern Democratic newspaper, the Jeffersonian. In August 1861, a mob destroyed his printing press and subscription lists, and tossed his printing type out a window. A few days later, two federal marshals came to finish the job—under the Confiscation Act, these marshals could seize the property of any citizen who supported the Confederacy. Manber and Dahlstrom speculate that the mobs may have been acting under the aegis of Lincoln's cabinet, and perhaps with the knowledge of Lincoln himself. The second half of the book is largely devoted to the ensuing court case, which in 1863 resulted in Hodgson recovering just over $500 in damages from the government. The authors are given to breathless prose ("It was John Hodgson's fight, and he stood alone"). The questions this book raises couldn't be more timely: how does one criticize a president in wartime, and how can we ensure the freedom of the press at those moments when we need it most? (Nov.)
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In All the Laws but One (1998), the late William Rehnquist examined the legal propriety of Lincoln's suspension of various constitutional liberties. This book tells the story of one such instance, the suppression of a Copperhead newspaper whose proprietor fought back in court. He was Pennsylvanian John Hodgson, whose Jeffersonian expounded on states' rights, white supremacy, and abominations of the Lincoln administration. Discoursing on the eastern Pennsylvania political players incensed by the Jeffersonian's secessionist sympathies, the authors introduce the local congressional representative who engineered the confiscation law under which Hodgson was muzzled. After vandals destroyed his press in 1861 and marshals barred him from the premises, Hodgson had his day in court, where federal officials testified they had acted on Lincoln's order. Vindicated by the jury, Hodgson impresses the authors--setting his views aside--with his irascible indomitability, and their animated recovery of this forgotten character will mesh with the great interest in Civil War journalism. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In the early stages of the war, our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, declared his first priority was the preservation of the Union - at any cost. This man and this determination, for me, became an interesting backdrop for the strife that preceded and ensued. At stake were great issues of the day - slavery, secession, white supremacy, states rights and many civil liberties, i.e. habeas corpus, freedom of speech in the press and on the soapbox. Other items of contention were illegal imprisonment, seizures and confiscation of property and the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States as to primacy vs. elasticity
During these years fierce accusations of passivity, participation in, or even direction of abridgments of civil rights were hurled at Lincoln, especially by an archenemy, publisher John Hodgson of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Was Lincoln guilty of riding roughshod over various civil rights and manipulation of the press? If he did, was there a shred of justification for it? At the end of the book we are left to define for ourselves what civil rights we regard as inviolable and absolute at any cost, vis a vis the powers given or assumed by our nation's chief executive officer in times of extraordinary national peril. Such issues are still relevant and hotly debated today. A provocative book!
This books gives us a look into the lives of a number of interesting figures that otherwise may have been swept under the rug of history never to have had their stories told. Thankfully the authors have done a nice job of bringing this story to light.
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