The Story of Sam Smith begins about the hour that news of Lee's surrender reaches New England. While Sam is in the next room receiving his first bath, his mother feels strong enough to explain the one important fact about his antecedents and childhood: his lineage is all-American right back to colonial days.
The father, Theophilus, is patriarchal but bookish. The farm goes to pot. When father and mother are dead and Sam makes his way to and in New York, he is a...