The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln

Overview

"In a thrilling detective story of conspiracy, treachery and assassination, Michael J. Kline suggests how close the Baltimore plotters came to achieving their goal, and reveals how Lincoln and a few guards outwitted them. Meticulously researched and written with verve, "The Baltimore Plot" takes readers aboard Lincoln's inaugural train for a perilous and unforgettable journey." ?James L. Swanson, author of the Edgar Award-winning New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day ...

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The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln

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Overview

"In a thrilling detective story of conspiracy, treachery and assassination, Michael J. Kline suggests how close the Baltimore plotters came to achieving their goal, and reveals how Lincoln and a few guards outwitted them. Meticulously researched and written with verve, "The Baltimore Plot" takes readers aboard Lincoln's inaugural train for a perilous and unforgettable journey." —James L. Swanson, author of the Edgar Award-winning New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer

On February 11, 1861, the "Lincoln Special" - Abraham Lincoln's private train—began its journey from Springfield, Illinois, to the City of Washington, carrying the president-elect to his inauguration as the sixteenth president of the United States. Considered a "sectional candidate" by the South, and winning the election without the popular vote, Lincoln was so despised that seven states immediately seceded from the Union. Over the next twelve days, Lincoln would speak at numerous stops, including Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Albany, New York, and Philadelphia, expressing his desire to maintain the Union. But as Lincoln made his way east, America's first private detective, Allan Pinkerton, and a separate undercover operation by New York City detectives, uncovered startling evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln during his next-to-last stop in Baltimore. Long a site of civil unrest—even Robert E. Lee's father, Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, was nearly beaten to death in its streets—Baltimore provided the perfect environment for a strike. The largest city of a border state with secessionist sympathies, Baltimore had been infiltrated by paramilitary groups bent on killing Lincoln, the "Black Republican." The death of the president-elect would, it was supposed, throw the nation into chaos and allow the South to establish a new nation and claim Washington as its capital. Warned in time, Lincoln outfoxed the alleged conspirators by slipping through Baltimore undetected, but at a steep price. Ridiculed by the press for "cowardice" and the fact that no conspirators were charged, Lincoln would never hide from the public again. Four years later, when he sat unprotected in the balcony of Ford's Theatre, the string of conspiracies against his life finally succeeded. One of the great presidential mysteries and long a source of fascination among Lincoln scholars, the Baltimore Plot has never been fully investigated until now. In The Baltimore Plot: The First Conspiracy to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln, Michael J. Kline turns his legal expertise to evaluating primary sources in order to discover the extent of the conspiracy and culpability of the many suspects surrounding the case. Full of memorable characters, including Kate Warne, the first female undercover agent, and intriguing plot twists, the story is written as an unfolding criminal proceeding in which the author allows the reader to determine whether there was a true plot to kill Lincoln and if the perpetrators could have been brought to trial.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Corporate lawyer Kline details an alleged plot to which most Lincoln books only allude. President-elect Lincoln journeyed by private railway from Springfield, IL, through Maryland to his 1861 inauguration and, in Baltimore, escaped from what was probably the first conspiracy to assassinate him. The alleged plotters were never brought to trial. Kline contextualizes Baltimore as the largest city of a pro-secessionist border state, where previous tumults had earned it the sobriquet "Mobtown." Foiling the plot burnished the reputation of private detective Allan Pinkerton, among others. Lincoln's protectors saved his life but not his reputation. The press ridiculed Lincoln for resorting to disguise when moving between stations in Baltimore in the midst of his otherwise highly publicized "Lincoln Special" to Washington. Lincoln thereafter vowed never to hide. Kline translates legal concepts into comprehensible language, making readable an at times exhaustive examination of a scheme tied together through the "circumstantial evidence of motive, means, and opportunity." Kline invites his readers to serve as judge and jury and to conjecture how history would have been different had such a conspiracy succeeded. Comparing favorably with Harold Holzer's Lincoln President-Elect, this book demonstrates the use of archival sources beyond the usual standard and is recommended for libraries serving specialists and general readers.
—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594161803
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/7/2013
  • Edition description: 1
  • Sales rank: 993,671
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael J. Kline is a senior corporate attorney in Atlanta. He is the former editor of the Journal of Law and Commerce.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 7, 2009

    A great Civil War detective story . . .

    The Baltimore Plot is a thorough, well-written treatment of one of those stories that you can't believe hasn't been written on before--or at least not in decades. The author does a great job presenting the story of the newly elected Abraham Lincoln's perilous trip from Springfield to D.C. in February of 1861 against a backdrop of secessionist intrigue and political uncertainty. Along the way, Kline does some excellent detective work in primary sources and newspapers as to the whodunit (or did they?) aspects of the Plot itself, painting portraits of various suspects and exploring an ominous web of connections to another famous Baltimorean, John Wilkes Booth. Even the Hitchcockian (or Poe-ish?) chapter titles ("Night Train," "An Unexpected Arrival," "The Kossuth Hat," and others) are intriguing. The book ends with a closing argument of the "prosecution" and "defense" cases and sense of foreboding about the Lincoln tragedy still to come.

    As a bonus, The Baltimore Plot is fairly brimming with illustrations (very helpful given the large cast of characters) and maps, including a particularly fine street map of Baltimore, circa 1861. Equal parts Bruce Catton and Arthur Conan Doyle, this book should land on the bedside table of Lincoln buffs and history readers everywhere and would make a great gift for those who think they know all they need to know about Old Abe.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2009

    A detailed dissection

    Just finished rereading The Baltimore Plot which helped tie together the loose players and threads I had from the first reading. Reflecting upon history events seem so concrete until one realizes that there were so many possibilities for Lincolns Presidency to unravel before it began. Another reason I reread this book stems from all the negativity spewing from politicians and media about our Nation. We are damn lucky to be living in America, damn lucky that people of morality and courage prevailed in the past, proving that there are always those seeking to malign what makes us great.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    I agree with James L. Swanson, author of Manhunt, this book was a "thrilling detective story of conspiracy, treachery and assassination. (from the back of the book cover)

    The Baltimore Plot was hard to put down. The story transports the reader back in time as if they are sitting on the Lincoln Special with the President elect and a contingency of some of his family and closest friends ( Judge Davis, Norman Judd, and Ward Lamon to name a few). The story, like the train, travels throughout the North East visiting town after town. While the President elect is meeting the most prominent figures of each town and making speeches to huge crowds, the people closest to him are receiving information about a Plot of assassination that is unfolding in Baltimore. I recommend this book to anyone who ever thought that American History was boring, because this book will change your mind.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Baltimore Plottings

    This is a large book filled with information on the plot against Lincoln on his journey to Washington in 1861. The book is filled with characters who wish to see the demise of the President-elect.Some are familiar and some are new to the general public. What this book lacks is proof that the plot existed. Most of the information is conjecture. I for one, believe the Plot existed. However, like religion, one must take it on faith alone, that it exists. The book is too long. Perhaps, the author should have saved a tree and condensed his opinions. Half this size would have gotten his point across just as well.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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