One hundred and fifty years ago today, John Crittenden of Kentucky took to the floor of the Senate and urged North and South not to split apart. It might be said that between Lincoln’s election and the outbreak of the Civil War, no politician tried harder than Crittenden to find a middle course to preserve the Union. He failed, of course, but remained loyal to the Union–even as he disagreed strongly with West Virginia statehood and the enlistment of blacks in the federal army.
The Civil War is sometimes described as a war of brother against brother. For the Crittenden family, and to the sorrow of John Crittenden, this was literally true. One of his sons served as a general for the Union. Another served as a general for the Confederates.
Crittenden makes a brief appearance in The First Assassin. Technically, it’s not even an appearance because he’s entirely off stage. But there’s a moment when one of the on-stage characters receives a telegraph from the senator and dashes off a reply.