Edward Achorn on the Miraculous Nomination of an Illinois Lawyer
History has a way of deceiving us. We know how the story turns out. In focusing on the steps that led to a result, we can’t help but form the impression that the outcome was inevitable.
We forget that the people in the middle of the most momentous events in our history had no idea what would happen.
That is why I like suspending the usual viewpoint of history from 30,000 feet up and taking events down to ground level. In my latest book, The Lincoln Miracle: Inside the Republican Convention That Changed History, that means the floor of the Wigwam, a freshly built, massive auditorium of fragrant, unfinished wood, and in the crowded, smoky, tobacco-juice-stained saloons and hotel rooms of Chicago during one week in May 1860.
We find there a story unfolding so astonishing—and so crucial to the ultimate survival of the United States, and the destruction of slavery—that some who were there thought the invisible hand of the Almighty shaped the outcome. I consider what happened that week a miracle.