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A fascinating behind-the-scenes account of life at the White House in the second half of the nineteenth century
Hired in January 1865 as one of four White House bodyguards assigned to protect the president, Colonel William H. Crook—a Union army veteran and member of the Washington Police Force—developed a close, mutually respectful relationship with Abraham Lincoln. To his profound regret, Crook was not on duty the night that the Great Emancipator was assassinated—if he had been, one of the grimmest chapters in American history might have been rewritten.
For the next fifty years, Crook dedicated himself to the White House and to the office of the presidency. In a variety of positions, from bodyguard to clerk to disburser, he served twelve different presidents—from Andrew Johnson to Woodrow Wilson—and played a key role in the inner workings of the executive mansion. Published posthumously, Through Five Administrations is Crook’s report on the first half of his tenure, and includes the deeply affecting story of his brief time with Lincoln, his memories of the divisive period surrounding Johnson’s impeachment, revealing portraits of Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes and their families, and a fascinating look at the turmoil caused by James A. Garfield’s assassination and the unexpected presidency of Chester A. Arthur.
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