A narrative history of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference, the bipartisan, last-ditch effort to prevent the Civil War, an effort that nearly averted the carnage that followed.
In February 1861, most of America's great statesmen--including a former president, dozens of current and former senators, Supreme Court justices, governors, and congressmen--came together at the historic Willard Hotel in a desperate attempt to stave off Civil War.
Seven southern states had already seceded, and the conferees battled against time to craft a compromise to protect slavery and thus preserve the union and prevent war. Participants included former President John Tyler, General William Sherman's Catholic step-father, General Winfield Scott, and Lincoln's future Treasury Secretary, Salmon Chase--and from a room upstairs at the hotel, Lincoln himself. Revelatory and definitive, The Peace That Almost Was demonstrates that slavery was the main issue of the conference--and thus of the war itself--and that no matter the shared faith, family, and friendships of the participants, ultimately no compromise could be reached.