"I actually aspired to a respectable position in society. Thank God that didn’t come true. I mean, I guess a writer is one of the best things you could possibly be because no one has a clue how to characterize you. What is a writer? I have been lucky beyond reason — yet still bewildered."
— Sam Shepard, letter to Johnny Dark, January 15, 2009 (From “2 Prospectors: The Letters of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark”)
You would be hard-pressed to find many comparisons between Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the United States, and Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States. Most historians agree that Lincoln is probably the greatest President in American History; a similar amount of historians usually rank Pierce as one of the worst. Lincoln guided the country through Civil War and to victory; the policies of Pierce’s Administration helped divide the nation and make Civil War a reality. Despite being born in the South, Lincoln fought during every minute of his Presidency to keep the Union together; Pierce, born and raised in New Hampshire, was a “doughface” (a Northerner with Southern sympathies), and close friends with Confederate President Jefferson Davis who served as Secretary of War in Pierce’s Administration. Lincoln died just days after the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox and was immediately considered a martyr by the American public after his death. After dispersing a crowd that angrily gathered in front of his home following Lincoln’s assassination, Franklin Pierce went back to doing what he had done since leaving the White House in 1857 — drinking himself to death.
There is one thing that links these two men beyond the fact that they were both Presidents during the most divisive period in American History — tragedy. In the exclusive fraternity of American Presidents, it’s impossible to find two more melancholy individuals than Franklin Pierce and Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln battled deep depression throughout his life and, as a young man in Illinois, Lincoln admitted that he contemplated suicide at times. During his career as a lawyer riding the Illinois court circuit, Lincoln’s friend Joshua Speed recalls the future President remarking “If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell; I awfully forebode that I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”
What troubled Lincoln is difficult to pinpoint. Before he married Mary Todd, Lincoln was romantically interested in Ann Rutledge, the daughter of a New Salem, Illinois tavern owner. Lincoln was a frequent visitor to the Rutledge home and was devastated when Ann died of typhoid fever in 1835. William H. Herndon — Lincoln’s longtime law partner and one of the first biographers of Lincoln — acknowledged that the future President loved Ann Rutledge and that the grieving Lincoln was suicidal in the days and weeks following Ann’s funeral. Five years after Ann Rutledge’s death, Lincoln and Mary Todd were engaged, and the couple married in 1842. Mary had a terrible temper and her mental condition was so tenuous that her son, Robert, finally had her committed to an asylum after President Lincoln’s death. Mary was a lot of things that Lincoln was not — short, overweight, confrontational, insecure, and temperamental. The marriage was rocky at times, but Lincoln was passionately defensive about charges against his wife. When Mary lost control and screamed at Lincoln or charged the President with jealous accusations, Lincoln walked away from the fights and always returned to check on Mary’s condition once she cooled down. For a President trying to save his country from destruction, these personal domestic crises had to be taxing on Lincoln.
To find a bright spot somewhere, Lincoln turned to his children for solace. Lincoln’s four sons were all born in Springfield, Illinois with Robert Todd Lincoln leading the way in 1843. By the time of Lincoln’s Presidency, Robert was an adult attending Harvard and he spent the last months of the Civil War on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant. The second son, Edward Baker Lincoln, was another source of sadness for the Lincolns. Edward died at the age of four; an event that left Mary on the brink of breakdown and pushed Lincoln to cherish the next two children, Willie (born in 1850), and Tad (born in 1853). As President, Lincoln was horrified by dispatches describing the ongoing Civil War, tried to shut out the distractions caused by his unstable wife, and discovered happiness only in those moments where he could play with Willie and Tad.
Willie Lincoln was dedicated to his love for books, much like his father, and it was no secret to anyone that Willie was the President’s favorite child. Tad was more rambunctious, always into joking and playing around, and Lincoln took great satisfaction from Tad’s affinity for dressing up like the soldiers who protected Washington and the White House from the rebel forces. Like the Biblical Job, however, Lincoln had to face adversity while persevering relentlessly towards his goal. In February 1862, Willie Lincoln took ill after riding his beloved pony in chilly weather. Doctors ordered bed rest and Willie rallied at first, but on February 20th, he died from what is thought to be typhoid fever. The Lincolns were devastated, Mary was inconsolable and shut herself off from the world for three weeks. Lincoln worried about Mary while also nursing his youngest son, Tad, who came down with the same illness that killed Willie and was in critical condition himself. Tad recovered, but Lincoln was at times overcome by sadness. Every Thursday for several weeks, Lincoln locked himself in the Green Room of the White House, the room where Willie’s body had been laid out and embalmed after he died, and cried for his lost son.
Throughout his life, Lincoln had loved few things more than reading Shakespeare out loud to family and friends. After Willie died, the President’s voice would break with emotion and his eyes would be flooded by tears when he recited these lines from King John:
And, father cardinal, I have heard you say
That we shall see and know our friends in heaven
If that be true, I shall see my boy again
Though he never shrank from his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief in the midst of a brutal Civil War, Lincoln confided to others that Willie’s death “showed me my weakness as I had never felt it before.” Only once more did he feel a pinch of unrestrained happiness and that was on the day that he truly considered the Civil War to finally be over — April 14, 1865. That night, John Wilkes Booth ended Abraham Lincoln’s suffering.
It was Willie Lincoln’s death in the White House in 1862 that brought Franklin Pierce and Abraham Lincoln the closest that they would ever be. Men of different political parties, different backgrounds, and different viewpoints on the biggest issue of the day; they were as far apart politically as they were in physical appearance. Lincoln was described by even his closest friends as “ugly” and his opponents likened him to a “baboon”. Lincoln wore the same old suit constantly, he rarely took the time to comb his hair, and he didn’t care what people thought of his “style”. Franklin Pierce looked like a Roman statue come to life. Pierce had long, curly, jet-black hair that he combed over the side of his forehead, he dressed impeccably, and one historian calls him “perhaps the most handsome President”. Even President Harry Truman — a vicious detractor of Pierce’s Presidency — called Pierce “the best-looking President the White House ever had” and suggested that he “looked the way people who make movies think a President should look”.
Behind those looks, however, was a man who was as unsuccessful at fighting depression as he was at fighting alcoholism. Franklin Pierce was ambitious and rose to the Presidency at a younger age than any of his predecessors. His ambition, however, strained his marriage with Jane Means Appleton, who hated politics and hated Washington, D.C. Pierce didn’t help the marriage by not consulting with Jane before undertaking a life-changing experience such as accepting the Democratic nomination for President in 1852. Jane had heard that Franklin was being considered as a compromise choice by the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore, but believed that he had no chance against better-known names such as James Buchanan, Lewis Cass, and Stephen A. Douglas. While out for a carriage ride in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a rider galloped up to the wagon carrying the Pierces with the news that Franklin had won the Democratic nomination. Franklin smiled excitedly, but Jane nearly passed out. Pierce had promised that he was done with politics, that they were done with Washington forever, and now it was a near-certainty that he would be elected President of the United States.
Like the Lincolns, the Pierce family had lost two sons at young age. The first born, Frank Jr., died as an infant, and their second son, Franklin Robert Pierce, died at the age of four. Their son Benjamin was their only surviving offspring, and they devoted all of their parental love to Bennie. In times of the deep depression that both Franklin and Jane suffered from, both parents could turn to Bennie for some joy and to remind themselves that not all was lost. Like his mother, Bennie was shy and unhappy about a potential move to Washington. Shortly after Pierce won the Democratic nomination, Bennie wrote his mother: “I hope he won’t be elected for I should not like to be at Washington. And I know you would not be either.” The hopes and prayers of his wife and his son were in complete opposition to those of Franklin Pierce. He wanted, more than anything, to be President. On Election Day, he was granted his wish as he trounced General Winfield Scott on won the Presidential election.
While Franklin prepared to take the reins of the country, Jane and Bennie prepared for the dreaded move into the White House in Washington. Jane tried her best to project some happiness for Franklin’s sake, and she found some assistance from her religious devotion. As 1853 began, the Pierces prepared for the move to Washington, D.C. and left New Hampshire in January, deciding to stop in Massachusetts for visits with family and friends before arriving in Washington for the inauguration scheduled on March 4th.
On January 6, 1853, a train carrying the young President-elect, his wife, and their only surviving son left Andover, Massachusetts. Just a few minutes after departing Andover, the passenger car detached from the train and rolled down an embankment. None of the passengers including Franklin Pierce and his wife were injured except for one person. In front of his horrified parents, 11-year-old Benjamin Pierce was thrown from the train and was nearly decapitated as his head was gruesomely crushed. Bennie Pierce was killed instantly, and his parents would never be the same.
Less than two months later, Pierce was sworn in as President. The only President who memorized his inaugural address and recited the speech without notes, Pierce started by telling the crowd in front of the U.S. Capitol, “It is a relief to feel that no heart but my own can know the personal regret and bitter sorrow over which I have been borne to a position so suitable for others rather than desirable for myself.” Traumatized by Bennie’s death, Jane refused to continue any further towards Washington than Baltimore. Pierce had to face the Presidency and the mourning period for their son without his wife. As he told the American public in his inaugural address, “You have summoned me in my weakness; you must sustain me with your strength.”
When Jane finally arrived at the White House, she still didn’t make much of an impact. People referred to her as “the shadow of the White House” and she frequently closed herself off in an upstairs bedroom where she wrote letters to her dead children and stuffed them in a fireplace. Jefferson Davis’s wife, Varina, often substituted as White House hostess. In a way, Jane indirectly blamed her husband for Bennie’s death, claiming that God took Bennie from them so that Franklin would have nothing distracting him from his goals and accomplishments. When Jane died in 1863, Pierce’s closest friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, said that she was never interested in “things present”.
Franklin’s “accomplishments” were not much. He had a difficult time saying “no”, and often agreed to go along with the last person he talked to before making a decision. Pierce was indeed absent of distractions, but he needed some. The country was being torn apart by the slavery question and the Kansas-Nebraska Act inflamed tensions; it was no longer a matter of debate — in some places, open warfare was breaking out. The President found his distraction came in the form of a bottle. President Pierce was an alcoholic and in 1856, his own party refused to consider him for re-election. As his term ended at the beginning of 1857, Pierce said, “There’s nothing left to do but to get drunk.” He lived by that motto until his drinking finally killed him in 1869.
During Franklin Pierce’s retirement, he spoke out against Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War itself. Some called him a traitor, and even his close friends snubbed him. When Pierce’s friend, Nathaniel Hawthorne, died, he wasn’t even allowed to be a pall bearer as Hawthorne requested. But despite their many differences, Lincoln found himself in a place that only Franklin Pierce knew — mourning a lost child and worrying about an unstable wife while running a divided country. A few weeks following Willie’s death, President Lincoln received this letter:
Concord N. H.
March 4 1862
My dear Sir,
The impulse to write you, the moment I heard of your great domestic affliction was very strong, but it brought back the crushing sorrow which befel me just before I went to Washington in 1853, with such power that I felt your grief, to be too sacred for intrusion.
Even in this hour, so full of danger to our Country, and of trial and anxiety to all good men, your thoughts, will be, of your cherished boy, who will nestle at your heart, until you meet him in that new life, when tears and toils and conflict will be unknown.
I realize fully how vain it would be, to suggest sources of consolation.
There can be but one refuge in such an hour, — but one remedy for smitten hearts, which, is to trust in Him “who doeth all things well”, and leave the rest to —
“Time, comforter & only healer
When the heart hath broke”
With Mrs Pierce’s and my own best wishes — and truest sympathy for Mrs Lincoln and yourself
I am, very truly,
The melancholy Presidents — so far apart in each and every other aspect of their lives — could at the very least find companionship, if not comfort, in the other’s strength through painful weakness.
"Should He Head North"
Day Out of Days (Knopf, 2010)
should he head North
climb into bed
and would that make him soon forget
these morning nightmares
and random walks through woods
where he discovers nothing once again
but more of the same superstitions
traces of empty sagas
that don’t work for luck
or anything else
you can put your finger on
would running up there
straight North on 39
erase all that
or just create a whole new set
of lawless circumstances
he’d soon regret
and set him wondering why he’d ever left
the sweet sweet sunny South
he said to himself
in the voice of a man
in the voice of a man inside his chest
who told him in stern tones
things were already changing
for the worse
and it was far far better
to stay right there
sitting in his faded armchair
than to risk the road again
and all its bitter disappointments
and tough it out
between the cattle and the moon
but what if she goes off
and gives up the ghost
falls off the face of the earth
without even a kiss good-bye
that would have to be worse
than risking the highway
one last time
that would have to be much much worse
and watch the next set of possibilities
and fall away
what have you got to lose
piece by piece
day by day
Sam Shepard is a national treasure. I know that there are pockets of the literary world that appreciate him, but I still think he is vastly underappreciated overall. If we take away his very good acting career, he’s still the greatest living American playwright and, in my opinion, the very best when it comes to crafting a short story that grips you, immediately means something, and leaves you wanting more-and-more. I don’t know any writer — dead or alive — who creates nameless, faceless characters out of thin air and makes you care about them within a few very short paragraphs before allowing them to vanish (and being okay with it — he is never, ever greedy with his stories and characters, he is restrained almost to the point of stinginess).
As it might be clear from the type of writing that I specialize in, I don’t spend a whole lot of time reading fiction. I’m more comfortable with non-fiction (particularly when it comes to my own writing), and the main reason for that is because it is real. I can relate to it so much better because when something is real, I can feel it. I have a very difficult time when it comes to being touched by fiction.
And the truth is that I always want to feel something. Personally, I have a difficult time expressing my feelings and accessing my feelings. Non-fiction — history — makes it easy because I don’t have to spend a lot of time putting my imagination into gear in hopes of triggering certain emotions. With history, they are often already on the surface — I know where I’m supposed to be going, and that makes it easier to get there.
But when I read Sam Shepard, his words — often simple, unadorned phrases — provoke instinctive, visceral feelings. I can’t tell if Shepard’s writing is connecting with something deep inside of me, or if his stark language is scalding the very surface of my skin. Whatever it is, I feel it. It doesn’t matter how austere the prose, how alien the setting, how foreign the characters, I always feel what Sam Shepard writes, and I can’t say that about any other writer that I have ever read. I read to learn, but we also all read to feel. Sam Shepard’s stories don’t always make me smile, but I feel every single piece and they resonate with me long after I close his books.
Decades from now, when I am old(er) and gray(er) and talking about my favorite writers, I’ll be able to say that I read the collected works of John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway and Ambrose Bierce, or learned the poetry of Pablo Neruda — legendary writers who died before I was even born. I’ll be able to mention that due to my age I caught the tail-end of the careers of Hunter S. Thompson, Gabriel García Márquez, or Yevgeny Yevtushenko — appreciating them once they were already established as literary giants but appreciating no less than what they rightly deserved. And all of that will be wonderful. But then I’ll be able to mention that I bought Sam Shepard’s books as they were released — maybe not Hawk Moon, Motel Chronicles, or Fool For Love because I was too young, but that I went to the bookstore (I’ll probably have to explain what that was) and picked up The Unseen Hand and Other Plays, Cruising Paradise, Great Dream of Heaven, and Day Out of Days (and hopefully a few more collections of stories before all is said and done). I’ll be able to brag that I bought them on the day of the release and pull out my somewhat worn (but hopefully in good condition) first edition copies of these Sam Shepard collections, and someone will look at them with wonder and awe, just like I’d look at first edition copies of The Sun Also Rises or Tortilla Flat or The Beautiful and Damned if someone pulled them out today.
Sam Shepard is on the same level as Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, or HST. The only difference is that Shepard is more versatile as an artist. Those who don’t know his work might scoff at the comparisons; those who do know his work don’t need any convincing. But I know one thing for sure — Sam Shepard takes an art form and somehow uses it to create an emotion.
If she could just see me now, she’d be sure to love me, I’ll bet. I’ll bet she would. How could she not? Look at me. Look at me now. How I am. If she could just see me like this — waiting for her, hours early, way before she’s due; watching for any sign or sound of her. She’d see how eager I was. She’d see this desperation in my chest. If she could just see me now, from a distance, without me knowing she’s watching, she’d see me as I really am. How could she not have some feeling toward me then? Some — but maybe not. Maybe that’s — I mean, maybe there’s some repulsion in something like that. I don’t know how that works exactly but — maybe there’s a — a revulsion of some kind when someone is too eager — too needful, too needy. I don’t know. Some — convulsion. No. No, that’s not — That’s not it. That’s not even a word is it? ”Convulse.” If she could just remember that one time, when was it — that one time back in Knoxville when we were kissing on the train; that long long kiss we had — saying good-bye — and the train suddenly took off from the station but I wasn’t supposed to be going with her; I mean, that’s why we were saying good-bye, thinking we weren’t going to see each other again for a long, long time and we were locked in this long — just kissing and kissing and suddenly the train was moving and there was no way I could get off. Trees and houses were flashing by. So they dumped me at the next station, which was miles down the track, and there I was, waiting for hours for the next train back — I mean, if she could have seen me then, just standing there waiting, she’d — she’d be sure to love me. I mean, how could she not have some — I don’t know. I don’t know what causes that to happen — that connection — anymore. If there ever was one.
— Sam Shepard, “Convulsion”, Great Dream of Heaven (Vintage, 2003)
Like many modern Presidents, Ronald Reagan received thousands of letters each day from supporters, opponents, lobbyists, fans, nutjobs, regular Americans, and people around the world. Like many modern Presidents, most of those letters almost never reached Ronald Reagan — but some did. To take the pulse of the American people and try to escape the White House bubble that can isolate even the most down-to-earth of Presidents, Reagan requested that his correspondence secretaries give him a sampling of about 30 letters per month. The letters were carefully screened, but not so one-sided that Reagan didn’t hear from people who weren’t happy with him or what he was doing as President.
Sometimes, Reagan simply read the letters. Most of the time, he picked up his pen and responded in his instantly recognizable handwriting and simple, smooth prose. Longtime Washington fixture Clark Clifford, a former Secretary of Defense under Lyndon B. Johnson, once memorably called Ronald Reagan an “amiable dunce”. Reagan may have been amiable — although he had no close friends and even his children said that the only person who truly knew him was his wife, Nancy — but he was no dunce. Exploring the private papers of the 40th President — personal diaries, notes, correspondence, and love letters to his beloved wife — one quickly realizes that Ronald Reagan was one of the best pure writers of all American Presidents. The clarity of his writing, his common touch, and, of course, his sense of humor is readily apparent in his private responses to letters from the American people.
In 1984, 13-year-old Andy Smith of South Carolina wrote the President, “Today, my mother declared my bedroom a disaster area. I would like to request federal funds to hire a crew to clean up my room.” President Reagan’s response was not just funny — it also contained a subtle sermon on Reagan’s small government philosophy:
Your application for disaster relief had been duly noted but I must point out one technical problem; the authority declaring the disaster is supposed to make the request. In this case your mother.
However, setting that aside I’ll have to point out the larger problem of available funds. This has been a year of disasters, 539 hurricanes as of May 4th and several more since, numerous floods, forest fires, drought in Texas and a number of earthquakes. What I’m getting at is that funds are dangerously low.
May I make a suggestion? This administration, believing that government has done many things that could be done by volunteers at the local level, has sponsored a Private Sector Initiative program calling upon people to practice voluntarism in the solving of a number of local problems.
Your situation appears to be a natural. I’m sure your mother was fully justified in proclaiming your room a disaster. Therefore you are in an excellent position to launch another volunteer program to go along with the more than 3,000 already underway in our nation — congratulations.
Give my best regards to your mother,
Sincerely, Ronald Reagan
A year earlier, another child, Rachel Virden of Texas, wrote to the President and mentioned that she was nervous because she was going to have to start wearing eyeglasses. Reagan sympathized and connected with the young girl:
Rachel I know how you feel about glasses. I have been nearsighted all my life and when I was young I felt as you do about wearing glasses but I wore them. Being able to see clearly was more important. Now maybe seeing me on TV or my picture in the paper you wonder where my glasses are. I’m wearing them — contact lenses. Wear your glasses now and in a few years when your eyes have reached their full size you might look into the idea of contacts. It’s very simple and easy to wear them. I’ve been wearing them all my adult life. But in the meantime don’t deny yourself the joy of being able to see things clearly.
Not all of the letters that reached Reagan’s desk were from children or easy for the President to digest. In 1982, Gail Foyt of Ohio wrote to Reagan and noted that she had voted for him in 1980 but was regretting her decision because of economic problems that deeply affected her and her family since her husband was forced to find work in another state and leave for months at a time. In her letter, Foyt suggested that the “very wealthy” President didn’t care about “people like me — not rich, nor poor — worth nothing except to each other”. Reagan, who grew up in rural Illinois during the Great Depression as the son of an alcoholic shoe salesman who was once fired on Christmas Eve, took it personally:
I wish I could tell you there is some instant answer to the economic problems besetting us but I can’t. However it is my strong belief that we are on the right track and the economy is turning up.
I hope and pray by the time you receive this your own situation is improved and that you are or soon will be united with your husband.
Mrs. Foyt your sentence with regard to my not being able to understand the real world touched a tender nerve. I grew up in poverty, although in a small midwestern town you didn’t think of yourself as poor. Maybe because the government didn’t come around and tell you, you were poor. But I do understand very well what you were saying. I’ve been making speeches for about 30 years on the fact that the forgotten men and women in America were those people who went to work, paid their bills, sent their kids to school and made this country run.
You said you’d pray for me and I’m grateful. I have a great faith in prayer and I intend to pray for you.
President Reagan continued responding to selected letters screened by his correspondence secretaries for the remainder of his Presidency — something that other Presidents have also done, including President Obama. But Ronald Reagan’s most famous letter and almost certainly his most beautiful and touching letter was the last message he ever wrote to the American people. On November 5, 1994, the 83-year-old former President released this handwritten letter on his personal stationery to the American people — a simple, elegant announcement so raw that, when he made a mistake towards the end, he merely crossed out the word and left it on the page. It was the letter that began Ronald Reagan’s long goodbye:
My fellow Americans,
I have recently been told that I am one of the millions of Americans who will be afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease.
Upon learning this news, Nancy and I had to decide whether as private citizens we would keep this a private matter or whether we would make this news known in a public way.
In the past, Nancy suffered from breast cancer and I had cancer surgeries. We found through our open disclosures we were able to raise public awareness. We were happy that as a result many more people underwent testing. They were treated in early stages and able to return to normal, healthy lives.
So now we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clear understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it.
At the moment, I feel just fine. I intend to live the remainder of the years God gives me on this earth doing the things I have always done. I will continue to share life’s journey with my beloved Nancy and my family. I plan to enjoy the great outdoors and stay in touch with my friends and supporters.
Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.
In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your President. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future.
I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.
Thank you, my friends.
Reagan’s official biographer, Edmund Morris, who was never afraid to be critical or controversial about Reagan, probably summed it up best in PBS’s American Experience documentary of the 40th President:
"I can’t think of anything I’ve seen that was so transparently honest, courageous, and articulate. The writing had the ultimate quality of good writing which is unblinking acceptance of the truth. I find it very difficult to think emotionally about Ronald Reagan, but that is one thing he did that catches me in the heart — the courage with which he left his conscious life. The courage with which he stopped. He simply stopped."
President Reagan was rarely seen in public following his announcement in November 1994. The journey that led him into the sunset of his life ended on June 5, 2004, when he died at his home in Southern California at the age of 93. After full military honors, lying in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, and the first State Funeral in over 30 years, Reagan was buried at his Presidential Library on a mountaintop in Simi Valley, California — fittingly, the 40th President was interred in his tomb at sunset.
The answer to both questions is Benjamin Harrison. Now, granted, Benjamin Harrison wasn’t the most interesting guy in the world. He’s not even the most interesting guy named Benjamin Harrison. But for somebody like me who wants to study every single President as much as possible so that I know not only the facts and figures of his Administration, but so I know — or think that I know — what they were like, how they lived, who they happened to be as a human being as well as a President.
Unfortunately, there simply aren’t a lot of books — especially recent books written in the past half-century — that are devoted to revealing Benjamin Harrison. I haven’t found one yet that has given me an insight about him that I didn’t already know going into the book.
The absence of solid, modern, in-depth biographical works of Harrison leads to him being so underrepresented on the blog. I simply don’t know him. I know what he did, but I don’t know him. Of all of the essays, short pieces, Random Facts of the Day, and so on, I think that only one of them is about Benjamin Harrison and it’s really not much of a piece. I’d definitely like to learn more about Harrison as well as write more about Harrison.
This is a Hail Mary pass, but I have a pretty big audience, so it could work. Anyway, if you’re a Literary Agent and wouldn’t mind answering a few questions, please shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. I just have a handful of quick things that I wanted to ask someone with some insider knowledge. Thanks!
I know that many of my readers were also fans of the writing that my friend Keith Davis used to post on his Tumblr. For those of you who wonder where you can find his work, he has a piece prominently spotlighted in the back page slot of the current issue of In My Bed Magazine. You can subscribe to In My Bed online, or find it IN PRINT at selected bookstores throughout the country.