Friends of the Glenview Library hosted a program last night with John Alexander, a Civil War scholar who runs a used bookstore downstate with his lovely wife. I found him particularly charming because he said several times that his interest was not necessarily in the military, so when he was doing the Q&A and someone asked about the action he would say something like, “Well, my military friends would tell you that the West had the A team in the field.”
He argued that Senator Douglas has been made to look like a villain because “every hero needs a villain”. But in fact, Douglas totally had Lincoln’s back after the election was over and he made sure to bring the unionist democrats with him. Mr. Alexander maintained that the election of 1860 killed Douglas and I rather believe it.
Another intriguing line of thought was that it has been popular to argue that Grant was the worst president ever, but he thinks the tide is going to turn and History will declare that he wasn’t so bad after all. He didn’t have time to elaborate – he literally had to talk over the “library is closing” announcements.
So. Next time you are downstate, please look up Books on the Square in Virden, IL. It’s for history nerds.