Today we are really pleased to welcome bestselling authors, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch to Alternative-Read.com
The Lincoln Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch is a story about a little-known plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Readers are used to fast-paced fictional thriller plots written by Meltzer, but in this case the riveting plot is actually true to life.
The story opens with the division between the Southern and Northern states, Lincoln’s Republican primary election on the third ballot, the debates, and the 1860 Presidential election. It intertwines this with the plot by a Southern group to kill the President-elect before he would be sworn in. The authors discuss the historical significance, including South Carolina seceding from the Union six-weeks after the election, and Jefferson Davis being sworn in as the Confederate President.
A White Supremist society based in Maryland led by Cypriano Ferrandini, Baltimore’s “most powerful barber,” and 28-year-old socialite Otis K. Hillard, plotted to kill Lincoln on his way to the capital. They were members of pro-slavery groups, the Knights of the Golden Circle and National Volunteers. The book details how they were thwarted by Alan Pinkerton who was asked to investigate the plot. Pinkerton was charged with logistics. He studied the train route for Lincoln’s inaugural journey, planning for every contingency, and eventually masterminding a plan that involved smuggling Lincoln, in disguise, onto a train days before he was expected. Two of his undercover agents greatly helped in finding the conspirators, and guarding Lincoln during his journey to the Capital.
This story shows true heroes that could have possibly saved the Union. Who knows what history would have been like if Lincoln had never become President?
Elise Cooper: How did you learn about the event?
Brad Meltzer: A decade ago I was working on the TV show, “Decoded,” for the History Channel. The episode was about the actual Lincoln assassination in 1865. This is where I first heard about the assassination attempt that failed and the secret society that tried to pull it off.
EC: You also include other facts about Jefferson Davis, Pinkerton, and the 1860 election?
BM: We wanted to show the context around the assassination attempt. We actually try to flush out the people involved. What I am most proud of is that the readers can meet Abraham Lincoln as a person instead of what we knew about him from the clichés. In this story, we show what he was doing when he hears he won the Presidency, for example, playing handball on the back of a building. Or before he leaves for Washington going to see his beloved step-mother who said I will never see him again, he will die. Suddenly Lincoln is a human being who has fears and concerns.
EC: I was surprised to learn that Lincoln was not a radical abolitionist?
BM: We write how Lincoln said that the federal government would not interfere with slavery in states where it exists, and that he was willing to compromise by agreeing that the Northern states fully comply with the Fugitive Slave Laws. But he was insistent with regard to not spreading slavery into the new territories. He came about the opinion that all slaves should be freed by the influence of those like Frederick Douglas who pushed him along. We think our heroes are fully formed, but greatness comes about when people are presented with incredible problems and are judged on how they will rise or fall.
EC: The country was very divided then?
BM: Most Southern states did not even put him on the ballot because they hated him so much. Then, as now, most people hate the other side and think those people are horrible and awful. Sound familiar? The problem is people truly believe our side is good and the other side is bad. This will always lead to close-mindedness.
EC: How would you describe Pinkerton?
BM: He is pro-labor; yet, his agency was tarnished by what happened with the labor unions. I think he is a complicated figure.
EC: How would you describe Kate Warne?
BM: She is incredible as the first female detective. At that time, no woman was a private investigator or in law enforcement. She had the gall to walk into Pinkerton’s office and say, “hire me.” He realized that people will talk to her the way they would never speak to a man. I think she was confident, poised, and commanding.
EC: What about the evil conspirator, Cypriano Ferrandini, who reminds me of Snidely Whiplash?
BM: LOL. He is the ultimate bad guy. His name to fame was Baltimore’s famous barber. I think he was diabolical on every level. A racist who was determined to have Lincoln killed because he wants slavery to continue. He actually walked away scot-free and what he did was buried and ignored.
EC: Before reaching Maryland, Lincoln had a close call in other cities?
BM: In Buffalo we have an account, “The crowd, in its crazed eagerness to get nearer to the distinguished visitor… became an ungovernable mob.” The security detail was overwhelmed but there was a police escort, a military escort, and a friendly crowd. The President-Elect was lucky to escape serious injury. When Lincoln arrives in Baltimore there will be an unfriendly crowd, no police escort, and no protection other than the Pinkerton agents. There is also the stop in Philadelphia. He went there to honor his hero George Washington. It was an incredible lost moment in history. He was told someone was trying to kill him and he should change his schedule. But Lincoln refused, even though his life was at risk, because he insisted on honoring his hero.
EC: What about your next books?
BM: There will be two more in this series, three children’s books about Leonardo De Vinci, Ben Franklin, and Anne Frank. The next thriller is a sequel to The Escape Artist.
“[Narrator Scott Brick]…makes the pages come alive. He varies his volume during dramatic moments, at times almost whispering. He also varies his tone, enhancing the drama but never overpowering it…. This work is an excellent example of the perfect melding of text and narrator.” (AudioFile Magazine on The First Conspiracy, Earphones Award winner)
The best-selling authors of The First Conspiracy, which covers the secret plot against George Washington, now turn their attention to a little-known, but true story about a failed assassination attempt on President Lincoln
Everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865, but few are aware of the original conspiracy to kill him four years earlier in 1861, literally on his way to Washington, DC, for his first inauguration. The conspirators were part of a pro-Southern secret society that didn’t want an anti-slavery president in the White House. They planned an elaborate scheme to assassinate the brand-new president in Baltimore as Lincoln’s inauguration train passed through en route to the Capitol.
The plot was investigated by famed detective Allan Pinkerton, who infiltrated the group with undercover agents, including one of the first female private detectives in America. Had the assassination succeeded, there would have been no Lincoln presidency, and the course of the Civil War and American history would have forever been altered.
A Macmillan Audio production from Flatiron Books
“Filled with amazing American history, secret societies, incredible research, and a shocking conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln at the dawn of his presidency. A brilliant combination of edge of your seat history and superb storytelling.” (James L. Swanson, best-selling author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer)
“Meltzer and Mensch maintain suspense despite the known outcome of the story, and convincingly counter claims that Pinkerton made the whole thing up for publicity purposes. Readers new to the ‘Baltimore Plot’ will appreciate this comprehensive and well-written overview.” (Publishers Weekly)
The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President – And Why It Failed – by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
Book Beginnings / First Chapter First Paragraph / Tuesday Teaser!