On the 8th of October 1871 at approximately 8:45 p.m., Chicago was visited by what newspapers of the day often referred to as, “The Fire Fiend”. Over the next 30 hours, 2,100 acres burned along with the 17,450 buildings that sat on them. It is estimated that approximately 100,000 citizens were made homeless. Almost all who were present in the city during the event, including a special investigative agent of the Phoenix Insurance Co. of Hartford, had little doubt as to its cause. Almost all believed that it had incendiary origins. They also believed that it was not the work of a single incendiary but rather, an organized group of incendiaries.
The Great Chicago Fire: The Southern Rationale provides readers an opportunity to pick up the trail and have access to the original fact-pattern that investigators of the day collected. For the first time, readers will be presented a fulsome collection of facts and personal accounts collected from the period that will leave little doubt as to who set the fire and what their motivations were. And perhaps most importantly, they will start to understand why it was so important that those motivations remained secret at the time — resulting in countless generations being taught a fable about an old lady and a cow in American classrooms.
As readers progress, they will also be introduced to shadowy organizations of the day, such as the Order of American Knights and the Sons of Liberty, both of which were intimately involved with the Confederate Secret Service and its earlier attempts to burn the city in 1864.
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