In February 1861, most of America’s great statesmen—including a former president, dozens of current and former senators, Supreme Court justices, governors, and congressmen—came together at the historic Willard Hotel in a desperate attempt to stave off Civil War.
Seven southern states had already seceded, and the conferees battled against time to craft a compromise to protect slavery and thus preserve the union and prevent war. Participants included former President John Tyler, General William Sherman’s Catholic step-father, General Winfield Scott, and Lincoln’s future Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase—and from a room upstairs at the hotel, Lincoln himself. Revelatory and definitive, The Peace That Almost Was demonstrates that slavery was the main issue of the conference—and thus of the war itself—and that no matter the shared faith, family, and friendships of the participants, ultimately no compromise could be reached.
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About the Author
Mark Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, DC. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review Online, The Washington Examiner, The Chicago Tribune,The St. Louis PostDispatch, Christianity Today, World, and Gettysburg. He writes regularly for The American Spectator and The Weekly Standard and lives outside of northern Virginia.