Of the three secretaries who assisted President Abraham Lincoln—John G. Nicolay, John Hay, and William O. Stoddard—only Stoddard wrote an extended memoir about his time in the Executive Mansion. First published in 1890, the book vividly depicts the president’s agonizing reaction to the defeats at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the difficulties encountered (and presented) by Mary Lincoln, the president’s relations with George B. McClellan and other generals, and the anxiety preceding the Merrimack’s epic battle with the Monitor.
In 1866 Stoddard also penned thirteen “White House Sketches” about his time in Lincoln’s service. Originally published in an obscure New York newspaper, these essays—never previously collected—supplement Stoddard’s memoir. Together the memoir and sketches provide an intimate look at the sixteenth president during a time of crisis.
William O. Stoddard was a journalist and an author of boys’ fiction. Michael Burlingame, a history professor at Connecticut College, is the author or editor of several books on Abraham Lincoln, including A Reporter’s Lincoln (Nebraska 1998).
"The edited works represent a considerable body of material, and Mr. Burlingame does a great service to students of Lincoln's presidency."—Edward Steers Jr., The Washington Times