In “The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President - and Why It Failed
,” Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch provide a remarkable and often riveting account of an alleged plot to kill Lincoln in Baltimore on the way to his inauguration in Washington in February 1861. Historians still disagree on the details of the plan, including how many conspirators were involved and how great a threat it presented to the president-elect. But as the authors recount in the book’s opening scene, the threat was taken seriously enough that Lincoln was disguised
as the “invalid” brother of a young woman and sneaked into Washington early on an overnight train to thwart the anticipated attempt on his life.
Meltzer and Mensch remind readers that in much of the South, Lincoln was so unpopular that ballots were not distributed for him. As a result, in the election of 1860 not a single vote was cast for Lincoln in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Texas. On Dec. 20, six weeks after Lincoln’s victory, South Carolina would secede from the United States, citing in part “an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding states to the Institution of Slavery.”
Cipriano Ferrandini was a hairdresser from Corsica who emigrated to Baltimore, and established himself as the long-time barber and hairdresser in the basement of Barnum’s Hotel. There he practiced his trade from the mid 1850s to his retirement long after the close of the Civil War. He was accused, but never indicted for plotting to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on February 23, 1861, and while once caught in a secessionist dragnet in 1862, was never prosecuted for his pro-Southern convictions.
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