What if Lincoln lived?

Almost from the moment Abraham Lincoln was carried out of Ford’s Theater, historians have debated what might have happened had the president survived his assassination. Yale professor Stephen L. Carter’s new novel, “The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln,” suggests that Lincoln’s troubles would not have ended with John Wilkes Booth’s bullet.

Even considering the complete lack of vampire hunting, Carter’s story is shrouded in intrigue and bloodshed. The novel’s central character is Abigail Canner, a young, college-educated American woman who works with Lincoln’s legal team at the same time as she tries to solve a series of murders related to the case.

“I didn’t write the book to teach, I wrote the book to entertain,” Carter says. “I have a lifelong fascination with Lincoln, and as a scholar I’ve written a lot about the war power, presidential authority and impeachment over the years. So I constructed a thriller out of my hobby and my scholarly interests.”

Carter’s extensive research comes to the fore in the compelling courtroom arguments. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not pro-slavery opponents but extremists from Lincoln’s own party, dissatisfied with the president’s post-war policies, who seek to remove him from office.

“Lincoln was never a popular man in his party,” the author explains. “He was from the West, which in those days was seen as being the next thing to a hillbilly. He had no formal education; he had a funny accent and a funny-sounding voice. The leaders of the Republican party in those days were well-educated Northeasterners who looked down their noses at him. They thought he was beneath them, and this was true even as he gained in power.”

If you go

Stephen L. Carter

Tuesday, 7:30

Central Library

1901 Vine St.

Free, 215-567-4341


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