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From the best selling author of The Emperor of Ocean Park and New England White a daring reimagining of one of the most tumultuous moments in our nation’s past   Stephen L Carter’s thrilling new novel takes as its starting point an alternate history President Abraham Lincoln survives the assassination attempt at Ford’s Theatre on April 14 1865 Two years later he is charged with overstepping his constitutional authority both during and after the Civil War and faces an impeachment trial Twenty one year old Abigail Canner is a young black woman with a degree from Oberlin a letter of employment from the law firm that has undertaken Lincoln’s defense and the iron strong conviction learned from her late mother that “whatever limitations society might place on ordinary negroes they would never apply to her” And so Abigail embarks on a life that defies the norms of every stratum of Washington society working side by side with a white clerk meeting the great and powerful of the nation including the president himself  But when Lincoln’s lead counsel is found brutally murdered on the eve of the trial Abigail is plunged into a treacherous web of intrigue and conspiracy reaching the highest levels of the divided government Here is a vividly imagined work of historical fiction that captures the emotional tenor of post–Civil War America a brilliantly realized courtroom drama that explores the always contentious uestion of the nature of presidential authority and a galvanizing story of political suspense


10 thoughts on “The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln

  1. says:

    What if the president survived the assassination attempt only to face an impeachment trial two years later? That's the premise of this stout absorbing tale But Carter with an almost mesmerizing touch weaves than a what if story here What most engaged me is the way that Carter liberated himself from any stilted biased or passive political ranting of his own Instead of telegraphing his views into the characters he allowed history to inform us while never forgetting to hook us with an invented story within the framework of an intense and complex time in historyIn 1867 the war has been over for two years Andrew Johnson not Abe Lincoln was shot and killed by Booth And Secretary of State William Seward has been so wounded that he doesn't leave his house any And the president's wife has died a year ago from a mysterious accident This is the alternate history that Carter has meticulously woven together Lincoln faces an impeachment trial from Congress on four counts due to his policies or lack thereof and intercessions or lack thereof during Reconstruction 1 suspension of habeas corpus 2 seizing of telegrams and shuttering a handful of newspapers 3 not sufficiently protecting the freedmen in the southern states 4 conspiring with the military officers to overthrow the constitutional forms of governmentThis finely nuanced and well paced novel is packed with fully realized characters and situations Of course with a cast this extensive and numerous plots within plots some characters are there to lend background and color or to promote a larger connection There are plots and subplots romance adventure conspiracies and even murder How Carter tightly brings it all together in this capacious novel is superbly tight with room for ambiguity and he always remains a step ahead of the reader Half of the fun was trying to catch up and tease out the disclosures before he didAbigail Canner is a twenty one year old black graduate from Oberlin who lives with her aunt a freed slave named Nanny Pork in Washington City She aspires to become a lawyer and shrewdly procures a job as a clerk in the law office that represents Lincoln It is a win win too because the personnel know it looks good to practice what they preach All too often it is known that like so many people of liberal persuasion they value their own progressive opinions than they value the people they hold those opinions aboutAbigail is the polestar of this book and Carter has drawn her with an able and agile hand Whatever a reader might fear could occur with a character like Abigail such as too much PC or implausibly heroic those fears will be allayed by the subtle sharpness of Miss Canner Yes there's romance in the air and it doesn't take the reader long to foresee its possibility but Carter wins you over with his credible storyline and keen restraint And not all is as doubtless or doubtful as it may initially seemThe book was like a web or a circle with vectors projecting in every direction As the author demonstrates there are no easy answers and often both sides imbibe elements of hypocrisy and criminal behaviors as well as righteousness and nobility At this time during the impeachment proceedings Lincoln states that he would be ready to step down but doesn't feel that his work is finished until he brings the Union together The radical Republicans who are men of his own party who could be seen on the one hand as fanatical or on the other as dedicated and true want to oust him nowI was concerned that the story would be clumsy with a ham handed Lincoln and a heavy handed story It has to be difficult to portray an icon known as Honest Abe two years beyond his actual survival time a president most known for freeing the slaves But this isn't just the Lincoln we learned about in our history textbooks in high school Here we have a troubled complicated man always at the ready with an amusing anecdote a sometimes dour but witty and enigmatic presence And a flawed human being who nevertheless understands the times he is facingThere is nothing black and white in this racially charged novel of American history Besides the conflict of race there are the businessmen with greedy propositions about tariffs; egos; political ambitions; social issues of women and class; and The cost of war says Lincoln in 1867 is impossible to estimate in advancewars continue long after one side surrenders Every conflict plagues the peace that follows itThere is a tradition says retired Union General Dan Sickles one of Lincoln's staunchest supporters that once a great war has been won the leader must at once be deposed The Romans used to do it The British tooIn the Author's Note a must read at the end of the book Carter provides important information regarding his source material and a fascinating peek at how he braided fact and fiction together Like his first novel THE EMPEROR OF OCEAN PARK he slyly evinces the skullduggery in the chess games of politics as well as the toll of personal loss to the cause and commitment of justice Moreover he doesn't forget that his story is principally to entertain and seduce his readers into believers He makes the most of his characters and their individual and shared passions and renders a deeply felt and plausible history back to the future


  2. says:

    Carter is a masterful writer I could end the review right there and I would have included all any reader needs to know about this author and potentially about this book and would not fall short That said perhaps something a little concrete is needed for those who have an interest in reading this book or anything penned by Stephen L Carter I have said it of other books by Carter and I will repeat it again here Carter’s books can be uite dense and thick but if you are able to get through that you will find how greatly multi facetted they are and how much there is that one can take away from them if you give them the time Perhaps some of the negative reviews of this book come from Carter reading virgins who have not been able to get through the complex front and simply judge the book by its peripheral storyCarter layers so many topics within the book the overarching one being the impeachment proceedings of Abraham Lincoln Also included therein is the role and perception of ‘the darker nation’ as Carter calls them mystery murder love and even some history Those who love a book that tells many a story will not be left unsatisfied Carter’s ability to layer so many great themes within the one book and still drive the story forward must be applauded though it can bring about the aforementioned denseness that scares some readers off The story which is a form of alternate history presupposes that the assassination attempt on the 16th POTUS was unsuccessful and that his moves towards Reconstruction after the Civil War were grounds for impeachment Carter lays out the arguments in a thorough and sensible fashion and brings the idea of an impeachment trial to lifeWith many twists and turns throughout those who love Carter’s writing and have a passion for politics as well will not be disappointed Examination of the race relations in the US which were surely much ‘heated’ than even his Elm Harbour series of the 1950s and 60s proves to be one of the central issues that pushes the story forwardEnormous kudos to Mr Carter A thoroughly enjoyable book all around


  3. says:

    Written in 2012 this is a strange book to read todayAfter the Civil War Abraham Lincoln survives his assassination Two years later he is accused of overstepping his constitutional authority Somebody kills his lead counsel Then a Black woman attorney and a White clerk try to get to the bottom of thingsVery strange in today's atmosphere


  4. says:

    This is a fascinating alternate history based on the premise that Abraham Lincoln survives the 1865 assassination attempt and 2 years later is impeached by Congress for how he ran the Civil War and its aftermath The main character is Abigail Canner a 21 year old black woman with a degree from Oberlin College and a job offer from the law firm that is representing President Lincoln Resented for her gender and her race she faces obstacles everywhere yet is determined to overcome every one The first half of the book spends a lot of time showing just how much she has to put up with which slows the novel down After one of the partners in the law firm is murdered Abigail is determined to solve the crime especially since the police aren’t terribly interested in finding out the truth The second half of the book is much interesting since it deals with the impeachment trial There are conspiracy theories murders subterfuges political shenanigans and even a little romance in the book Actual historical people are interspersed with fictional ones Abraham Lincoln has a few brief cameo appearances so as not to overwhelm the story There are a lot of characters to keep track of and at times it gets a bit confusing There are twists that you see coming and many that you don’t This book although set in the 1860s is uite relevant to current times A controversial president political polarization putting love of money and power over duty to country talk of impeachment Sound familiar? In some ways it recalls the Clinton impeachment trial except in this case it is Lincoln’s own party who is trying to impeach him And yes there are a lot of foreshadowing of the current political climate in this book although there is no comparison between Abraham Lincoln and the current occupant of the White House “I just don’t understand” said Jonathan after a bit “How can so many of those elected to office abuse that trust so badly? They don’t care about truth They don’t care about argument They only care about winning elections and holding on to their power” Abigail smiled wistfully “Professor Finney always says that the right to govern belongs to those whose moral attributes best ualify them” “Moral attributes We live in a world of moral pygmies Not like the days of the Founders They could see beyond the needs of party Beyond the needs of interest Beyond the needs of the next election There are few men like that today”As you can see the writing is wonderful The writing carries you through some of the slower parts The well portrayed characters keep you engaged in the story The “what if” aspects of the story keep you turning pages just to see how it all ties together and how it turns out This is a dense nuanced complicated book with a lot of historical references The Author’s Note at the end is a must read He explained how he rearranged history to fit his narrative What else was he going to do since Lincoln died in 1865 and obviously was never impeached His thought processes are as fascinating as the book itself I definitely recommend this book for history buffs and those who want to challenge themselves a bit


  5. says:

    Well I was hyped to read this bookso hyped I ordered it from another library because hey I have read all of Carter's books The Emperor of Ocean Park Jericho Falls Palace Council and now this I believe and always find his writing intelligent alittle verbose and wordy but extremely clean and intriguingAnd the premise for this book drew me in like a moth to a flame especially after seeing the movie Lincoln starring the amazing Daniel Day Lewis and the surprising standout supporting castmate Tommy LeeI was all into reading this book about the most improbable and fascinating of scenarios what if Lincoln survived the assasination at Fords Theater by John Wilkes Booth would he stil be the revered president Negro savior or would the South come for him and his uestionable Reconstruction tactics to include shutting down newspapers limiting the support to freedmen and the diehard slavery enthusiasts and the Klan So the book starts from there with two law clerks assisting the President's counsel defending the impeachment charges and fighting the rival RadicalsI admit in this aspect of the law and politics there were just two many names and positions to keep up with for five hundred plus pagesI must confess to being muddled up than a few times I pulled through and though sometimes I felt like it was a chore to read there were flashes of brillance and a sense of suspense that made you want to finishadd to this plot the side story of one of the law clerks the extrodinarily ambitious Abigail a free black woman with her heart set on becoming one of the first women admitted to the bar despite the obstacles and blatant discrimination she faces at every turnShe was endearing and you root for her and feel her embarrasment and shame in fresh post slavery America before the Civil Rights movement Abigail's determination the consipiracymurder plot and the curiousity of wanting to learn what would theoretically happen to Lincoln kept me reading and if you can take time to savor write notes and reread certain parts it is worth the timeI can actually say though it was tough at times it could have been longer to allow Carter time to get into each character they just came at you LOL


  6. says:

    Abraham Lincoln is chic right now I'm not sure why but everybody and their uncle has felt the need to put in their two cents' worth to the growing number of Lincoln books currently on the bookshelves and bestseller lists Most notably in the non fiction entry are Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln and James L Swanson's Manhunt In the fiction arena Lincoln has battled vampires in Seth Grahame Smith's Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and now in Stephen L Carter's science fictional re imagining of history Lincoln who survived the gunshot wound at Ford theatre faces an impeachment trial Carter whose previous works have dealt with political conspiracies and murder mysteries was clearly attracted to the potential fun he could have with the subject And he has than succeeded Carter a Yale Law Professor and obvious history buff and a top notch writer of elaborate thrillers has written one of those books that is sure to appeal to everyone For the sci fi nerds he has written an extremely plausible alternate history For mystery lovers he throws in a murder mystery in the first ten pages and for the womanfolk he even has a love story There is also a conspiracy plot involving secret codes and a courtroom drama That Carter can weave all these elements together in a way that is immensely readable entertaining and fun is a testament to his talent as a writer The protagonist of the book Abigail Canner is a young black woman who happens to be a college graduate and a law clerk two accomplishments for which she has had to fight considering the time in which she lives She is hired on by the same firm that has taken on the defense of Lincoln during his impeachment trial While her sex and race often impede her from being a productive member of the firm she finds ways to be useful When one of the partners in the firm is found murdered outside a brothel with the body of a black woman Abigail takes on the role of part time detective with the help of Jonathan Hilliman one of the lawyers in the firm with whom she shares a mutual unspoken attraction When she finds out that the woman whom the police has dismissed as a mere prostitute was involved in an underground political circle of anti Lincoln conspirators and that certain parties are searching frantically for a missing list of conspirators Abigail and Jonathan uickly find themselves embroiled in a race against time the trial against Lincoln is uickly coming to a close and things do not look good for Lincoln and powerful forces of the upper classes and the wealthy Mixed in with all this of course is a fascinating courtroom drama in which Lincoln is held accountable for very real impeachable offenses As Carter states in an Afterword Lincoln actually did do things which would have been considered grossly unconstitutional such as shutting down newspapers arresting opposition spokesmen suspending habeas corpus and refusing to recognize court orders of prisoner releases He also did place certain cities in the North under martial law and forcibly shut down the Maryland legislature History tends to forget that at one point Lincoln was the most hated man in America even and especially by members of his own party Who is to say how history would have played out if Lincoln had survived his assassination? Carter makes a compelling case And an extremely entertaining one


  7. says:

    I am a bear for interesting alternate history and the American Civil War period seems to generate some of the best This has a truly mind bending premise Lincoln survives his attempted assassination to be brought up on impeachment charges two years later for his suspension of habeas corpus during the war and three other charges The chief motive driving his main foes is that his malice toward none and charity toward all policy is a kind of treason in its kinder treatment of the South than the legislators who were notorious in real history for their waving the bloody shirts of the Union dead want The principal characters are the attorneys who are to defend Lincoln in particular a law clerk who comes from a wealthy family and the unusual to say the least potential law clerk who is a recent graduate of the radical Oberlin cottage not at all well off possessing two siblings who are definitely criminals and who is both female and black or colored as the custom of the time had it She is determined to succeed a worshipper of Lincoln unlike her criminal brother very well thought of by the Oberlin president who put her up for the job and she is not about to let anything pride prejudice romance Lincoln's enemies murderers Confederate spies stop her By sheer doggedness and intelligence she means to convince those she meets be they lawyers Congressmen or the many brilliant women who worked behind the scenes in the Washington of the time that she can do what she sets out to do if she dies tryingCarter does a very good job of keeping Lincoln in the picture without letting him overshadow his main characters He is absolutely fascinating as is Carter's view of those would be great men who think they are greater than Lincoln It is an adult book and the time is raw so the language is so The female hero is subjected to plenty of hazing There is sexual material but not in excess of the period I definitely recommend it not just for alternate history fans but for those who are already familiar with the issues and the personalities of Washington during and at the end of the war and would like to see another thoughtful examination of them


  8. says:

    What might have happened if Abraham Lincoln had survived Booth’s assassination attempt? Impeachment? That’s what novelist and historian Stephen L Carter imagines in this riveting alternate history Abigail Canner a young black woman recently graduated from Oberlin College is working for the law firm defending Lincoln from accusations that he overstepped his constitutional authority during the war Interestingly these charges are brought by grandstanding Radical Republican members of his own party who are displeased with how the reconstruction of the South is going Abigail hopes to become a lawyer but being black and female there are numerous obstacles in her way and even the law firm that hired her isn’t making full use of her careful meticulous intelligence Many of the historical figures of the post Civil War era have roles in this wide ranging drama both the well known like Lincoln himself Edwin Stanton Charles Sumner and Salmon Chase and the new to me but fascinating lawyers war heroes and society doyennes that set me off on than a few internet searches Although Abigail is one of the fictional characters she feels like flesh and blood and the mood and conditions of the age she lives in are portrayed with captivating skill This is a time when Washington DC is Washington City with dirt roads and only a few of today’s landmarks and high end Georgetown is George Town a mostly black neighborhood of newly freed slaves I couldn’t put this engrossing suspenseful book down—it held my interest to the very last page


  9. says:

    This was an interesting alternate history book in which Lincoln survives his assassination attempt So what may have then happened as a result? In this case the Congress tries to impeach him based upon four different charges that occurred during the war First his suspension of habeas corpus second taking control of telegrams and newspapers during the war third charges of not enforcing the rights of freed blacks in the south and fourth the most serious charge of attempting to create a “Department of the Atlantic” which would take away Congress’s control of the legislative branch of the government thus giving him near dictatorial control of the countryThe story pits Lincoln’s lawyers which includes the story's protagonist a young black female who is a recent Oberlin graduate against the Radicals and their attempts to sway a handful of Senatorial votes reuired to acuit the presidentIt’s a great “what if” legal battle with mystery and partisanship The ending however was one that I never anticipated and not in a good way I have to say view spoilerLincoln’s second assassination left me feeling cheated This is a lengthy book that reuired a substantial time commitment and to not find out the outcome of the trial due to his death robbed me of my precious time that could have been better spent reading something promising hide spoiler


  10. says:

    edited slightly Read this awhile ago so writing down what I can remember I remember being really excited to read this an alternate history of Lincoln surviving the assassination sign me upIt started out well I liked the female MC and the author's description of DC back thenHe went over Lincoln surviving the bullet uickly not going into much detail at all only a couple pages First red flag but I decided to read onhoping it would get better for me it didn't He killed off Mrs Lincoln early on in the novel but the way he wrote it it felt kind of brushed off to me Seward was given mention but only brieflyLincoln's lawyers were interesting characters but I wanted to read about Lincoln and he wasn't in the book much and when he washe didn't 'feel like Lincoln the spirit of him wasnt there If that makes senseSone parts of the novel felt rushed as if he wanted to get to the other parts of the plot The impeachment to me felt contrived Mr Carter writes well but I just couldn't buy what he was trying to sell meI wouldn't say this was a bad novel I loved the idea but it wasn't executed very wellAnd the ending from what I remember pissed me offWould not recommend