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Lincoln was Nuts on This Trip

By John O'Brien

Washington D.C.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Ted Widmer follows the Train from Springfield to Washington

It was 160 years ago on February 11 when Abraham Lincoln said farewell to his friends in Springfield for the last time and boarded a train to the national capital. Ted Widmer has written a refreshing new take on the events of that trip. He recently discussed his book, Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington, with the Lincoln Group.

The story of this arduous trip is well known to Lincoln readers. But Widmer tells of the deeper meaning of the trip through its planning and the back stories. The lesser known characters and incidents of the journey explain how Lincoln was better prepared for his new position for having made it.

This pre-inaugural journey was the first to have organized special security for the president-elect. Allan Pinkerton was in charge and gave Lincoln the code name "nuts." The security team he put in Baltimore included the first woman detective, Kate Warne. Widmer described her extraordinary grit and talents as essential to Lincoln's safe passage through a murder plot in Baltimore. Pinkerton was able to telegraph the message that "nuts" was safely delivered to Washington on February 23, 1861.

Ted Widmer teaches at the Macaulay Honors College of the City of New York.

A profile article on Kate Warne is in the Washington Post, February 16, 2021.


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