Chapter One


IN THE MIDDLE OF MAY 1860, delegates to the Republican National Convention met in Chicago to choose the party’s nominee for president. The United States faced its greatest crisis since the Revolutionary War. The Democratic Party was so bitterly divided that it had been unable to even choose a candidate at its own convention, so the man the Republicans selected would almost certainly become president and face the Herculean task of dealing with secession. In this moment of crisis the delegates could have chosen either of two of the most accomplished politicians in America, William Henry Seward or Salmon P. Chase. Both had been United States senators and governors of major states. Both were superbly educated ...

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