Battling for Lincoln

Another piece of the LCM creation puzzle.

The Strawfoot

JJohn Nicolay (seated) and John Hay (right) were best friends who worked selflessly for President Lincoln. After the war they toiled equally hard to craft his image and defend the Unionist perspective of the war. John Nicolay (seated) and John Hay (right) were best friends who worked selflessly for Abraham Lincoln. After the war they toiled equally hard to craft his legacy and defend the Unionist perspective of the war.

Last night I finished Joshua Zeitz’s Lincoln’s Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln’s Image and gained a lot from reading it. Zeitz traces the relationship between the 16th president and his two assistants from the time they met prior the Civil War all the way through the early years of the twentieth century when Nicolay (1901) and Hay (1905) died. I have always known the general outline of the story of how the two wrote their mammoth ten-volume Lincoln biography in the 1880s. Zeitz does a good job of capturing the two competing and contradictory impulses at work in the decades immediately after the war. On one hand there was a tendency to deify…

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