Grateful American Book Prize

April 1
April 15

History Matters

Showing our children that their past is prelude to their future

A year after Woodrow Wilson’s presidency opened in 1913, World War I ramped up in Sarajevo; four years later he requested congressional authorization to dispatch troops to Germany.

“Wilson went on to lead what was at the time the largest war-mobilization effort in the country’s history,” according to “At first, Wilson asked only for volunteer soldiers, but soon realized voluntary enlistment would not raise a sufficient number of troops and signed the Selective Service Act in May 1917. The Selective Service Act required men between 21 and 35 years of age to register for the draft, increasing the size of the army from 200,000 troops to 4 million by the end of the war. One of the infantrymen who volunteered for active duty was future President Harry S. Truman.”

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Nico Mendina’s What Was World War I? 

President Woodrow Wilson in 1919

The Civil War was the bloodiest in American History—with approximately six hundred and twenty thousand casualties—from the North and the South, combined. The conflict started in 1861 and ended April 9, 1865, with Robert E. Lee’s ceding of his armed troops to General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, Virginia.

“Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War [1846-1848] and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property–most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee’s starving men would be given Union rations,” reports.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Ethan S. Rafuse’s Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia

On April 14, 1865, the country’s jubilant End-of-War celebration veered into woe. President Lincoln was dead, shot “the night before by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer.”

According to, Booth was determined to avenge the outcome of the war. “Learning that Lincoln was to attend Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance in Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater…Booth plotted the simultaneous assassination[s] of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into a paralyzing disarray … On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private box unnoticed and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head.”

The Grateful American Book Prize suggests James L. Swanson’s Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.

John Wilkes Booth

History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

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