I have spent the last few days putting the final touches on my upcoming talk at the New York History conference later this week. There were two parts to put together, the photographs I will use as visuals and the outline of the presentation. Cooperstown should be fun. I will be speaking about Theodore Roosevelt Senior,Williams E. Dodge Junior, and their cohort of New Yorkers, many of them Union League Club members, who helped Lincoln fight the Confederates, and then helped fight Boss Tweed, Tammany Hall, and municipal, state, and federal corruption in the Gilded Age. Along the way they also created many of the institutions New Yorkers take for granted today, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York Botanical Garden. I just got off the phone with the Hayfoot, who looked at my outline and, as always, gave me some sage advice.
With some exceptions, Civil War New York is a story that has not been told well. The major contributor is of course Barnet Schecter, whose The Devil’s Own Work should be on everyone’s reading list.
Along with my Joseph Hawley biography, this will be my big project for the next few years. In a way they are even the same project. In both cases my emphasis will be on creation of the Republican Party in each state (Hawley helped found the Party in Connecticut in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, while Chester Arthur was doing the same in the Empire State.) and continue through the early years of the Progressive Era when that generation died off. You could say I am putting the “era” in Civil War Era. Really one has too, though. So many people focus on Fort Sumter to Appomattox as if those four years happened in a vacuum. You cannot understand the war with that approach. I am fortunate that most 0f the materials I need are located in repositories here in New York and in Washington where the Hayfoot is working for the time being.