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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

"Stanton: Lincoln's War Secretary" by Walter Stahr - Author Talk

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, November 5, 2017

Our library system in cooperation with Historic Fort Steuben is sponsoring an Author Talk on Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 6:00 pm at the Schiappa Branch Library featuring Walter Stahr who has written a new book about Steubenville-native Edwin M. Stanton.


Call the library to make a reservation for the program at 740-264-6166.


“Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary,” published by Simon & Schuster has been received by reviewers as the “best new biography” of our native son.


Walter Stahr is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School and he practiced international law for 25 years.


He has also authored books about John Jay and William Seward, and lives in Newport Beach, CA.


We are excited to be included in his author tour related to his new Stanton, and honored to have him visit the Steubenville area.


He used our library system for research in the production of his book, and used materials and photos in the book acquired from our library system.


I agree with reviewers positive comments about the book, and feel that Mr. Stahr’s background produced a great book complete with notes, bibliography and a chronology of Stanton’s life.


To also assist the reader, the book contains several pages of biographies of people in Stanton’s life that were connected to his story.


Local readers will enjoy Stahr’s research of Steubenville in the 1820s described as an “interesting place on the banks of the Ohio River, its western roads generally impassible, so rivers served as the main transit routes.”


“Steubenville was the largest town on the Ohio River between Pittsburgh and Wheeling” having about 2,000 people and 400 dwellings.


The author’s beautiful writing style allows the reader a better appreciation of our area at the time that Stanton lived here, and an appreciation of his early years that formed his career in America.


Stahr unwraps the complexity of Edwin M. Stanton as he moves through his legal career and into politics during the Civil War.


History has painted Stanton with many brushes, but I feel that this author has performed such a wealth of research so as to present Stanton in an open field of information.


As a librarian, I was fascinated at his research.  The Stanton Papers, now available on the website for the Library of Congress were the basis for his research, but he notes that the “best quotes are from letters about rather than from Stanton.”


Then he describes 150 pages of sources that he used in his research.


Sources from Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, Gideon Welles, and another Steubenville-native David Homer Bates were just a few of the names appearing in his Bibliography.


The author covers the famous actions of Stanton following Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 that have been discussed over and over even today.


The intricate days of action of the Civil War were made and were advised by Stanton and Stahr developed those days into the story.


Copies of the book will be available for sale that evening, and are available from standard sources.