Monday, January 5, 2009

Meet Mr. Wallace

Juvenile delinquent, artist, musician, soldier, lawyer, politican, general, writer, and diplomat. Lew Wallace of Indiana was all of these in his remarkable life. I'll be examining Wallace's life and times in a free talk at 2 p.m. Saturday, January 10, at the New Castle-Henry County Public in New Castle, Indiana.

My talk is based upon my book The Sword and the Pen: A Life of Lew Wallace, published in 2005 by the Indiana Historical Society Press. This event is part of the Civil War series presented by New Castle-Henry County Public Library in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. The series is made possible by a grant from Wal-Mart to Friends of the Library.

Growing up when much of Indiana was still a wilderness, Wallace frequently fled from his classroom studies to wander the woods and fields he loved. The son of an Indiana governor, Wallace became passionate about books and combat. He tried to win lasting fame through service for the Union cause on the battlefield during the Civil War, but instead won honor and glory through a quieter pastime: writing. His novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, became one of the country’s best-loved books and was made into two successful Hollywood films.

At various times in his life, Wallace also was a lawyer, an Indiana state senator, vice president of the court-martial that tried the conspirators behind the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, governor of the New Mexico Territory during the days of outlaw Billy the Kid, and a diplomat who represented the United States in Turkey.

Wallace dreamed always of glory and lived a life full of adventures, triumphs and tragedies. Through it all, he believed in himself and always was never afraid to accept new challenges. He remains one of the most colorful and important figures in the Hoosier State’s history.

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