This introductory chapter begins with brief discussions of Lincoln's assassination and how few historians have attempted to show how Americans responded to the crisis at the time. It then sets out the purpose of the book, which is to shed light on the public, judicial, and memorial reaction to Lincoln's death—reactions that, for better or for worse, helped forge, and still largely sustain, the indefatigable Lincoln legend. It explores the legal, cultural, political, and even emotional consequences of the assassination. An overview of the subsequent chapters is presented.
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