A nation's commander in chief
The dramatic climax to this familiar though freshly re-imagined journey is the reconciliation between President Lincoln and his frequent debate opponent, Stephen Douglas, hours after the firing upon Fort Sumter. Enemy bullets having entered the debate, Douglas, the consummate Midwesterner, offered his support to Lincoln, the Southerner married to a Southerner, in the war effort before him. No two men in the United States parted that night with a more cordial feeling of a united, friendly, and patriotic purpose than Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas, said the congressman who brought them together, not before their customary crowds debating slavery issues, but alone in the White House. Douglas died soon after, too soon.
The loss of his longtime friend and foe, writes Waugh, leaves Lincoln wondering whether he is the one man great enough to win the war, preserve the Union and end slavery.