Isaac N. Arnold's word picture owes everything to personal observation because he knew Abraham Lincoln well for a quarter of a century. Eventually an adviser to the sixteenth president, Arnold attended his inaugurations, heard his great speeches, visited him at the White House, and on a spring day in 1865 joined the procession that carried his slain body there. Twenty years later he published his biography giving a detailed sense of Lincoln the entertaining storyteller, the shrewd politician, the steadfast visionary.
Here is the story of Lincoln's rise from humble origins to the presidency, backgrounded by events leading inexorably to the Civil War. Boyhood in Kentucky and Indiana, legal and legislative experiences, marriage to Mary Todd, name-making debates with Stephen Douglas, struggles as president to end slavery and shore up the union, conduct of Northern forces as commander-in-chief, murder at Ford's Theater—all fuel the narrative drive of The Life of Abraham Lincoln.