From Antietam to Chancellorsville: September 1862 to May 1863

Battles For the West

How did the New Year begin?

In Washington, D.C., the New Year commenced with a time-honored ceremony: that of the public shaking the president’s hand. Official dignitaries came first, at 10 A.M., but the doors were opened to all at noon, and Lincoln spent the next two hours shaking hands. He was an accomplished master of the art, sizing up whether the recipient needed a bear shake or a gentle meeting of the fingers. Observers continued to criticize the president’s personal appearance, but they marveled over his skill with the average American.


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