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The Day Lincoln Died

April 14, 1865, is the day President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. The UK Guardian republished its news article that reported Lincoln's death:

President Lincoln and wife, with other friends, this evening visited Ford's theatre, for the purpose of witnessing the "American Cousin". The theatre was densely crowded, and everybody seemed delighted with the scene before them.


During the third set, and while there was a temporary pause for one of the actors to enter, a sharp report of a pistol was heard, which merely attracted attention, but suggesting nothing serious, until a man rushed to the front of the President's box, waving a long dagger in his right hand, and exclaiming, "Sic semper tyrannis" [thus perish all tyrants] and leaped from the box, which was in the second tier, to the stage beneath, making his escape, amid the bewilderment of the audience, from the rear of the theatre, and mounting a horse, fled. The screams of Mrs Lincoln first disclosed the fact that the President had been shot, when all present rose to their feet and rushed towards the stage, many exclaiming, "Hang him, hang him."

The excitement was of the wildest possible description, and there was an abrupt termination of the theatrical performance. There was a rush towards the President's box, when cries were heard - "Stand back and give him air. Has anyone stimulants?" On a hasty examination, it was found that the President had been shot through the head, above and below the temporal bone, and that some of the brain was oozing out. He was removed to a private house opposite to the theatre, and the Surgeon General of the Army, and other surgeons, sent for.

On an examination of the private box, blood was discovered on the back of the cushioned rocking chair on which the president had been sitting, also the partition, and on the floor a single-barreled pocket pistol was found on the carpet.

A military guard was placed in front of the private residence to which the President had been conveyed. A crowd was in front of it, all anxious to learn the condition of the President. It had been previously announced the wound was mortal, but all hoped otherwise. The shock of the community was terrible.

At midnight, the Cabinet and a few personal friends, with Surgeon General Barnes, and his immediate assistants, were around his bedside. The President was in a state of syncope, totally insensible and breathing slowly; the blood oozed from the wound at the back of the head. The surgeons exhausted every possible effort of medical skill, but all hope was gone. The parting of his family with the dying President is too sad for description.

Amazing. Betsy Newmark has interesting analysis. Had Lincoln not been shot, he probably would have endured political sabotage from radicals in his own party and unyielding demonization from those in the South.

As a side note, I've seen the rocking chair that Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot. It's on display at the Henry Ford Museum, which has additional interesting historical pieces from Lincoln's funeral.


Comments (7)

You think thats interesting... (Below threshold)
JamesT:

You think thats interesting, you should read about the guy who shot Booth, Thomas P. "Boston" Corbett. (He eventaully came here to Kansas, where in 1887 he was appointed assistant doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. On February 15, 1887, overhearing a conversation in which the legislature's opening prayer was mocked, Corbett jumped to his feet, pulled out his revolver, and waved his gun (some sources say "opened fire") at the 'heretics.' No one was hurt. Corbett was arrested, declared insane, and sent to the Topeka Asylum for the Insane. From which he promptly escaped and was never heard from again.)

"So, Mrs. Lincoln, other th... (Below threshold)

"So, Mrs. Lincoln, other than that, how did you like the play?"

About 40 years ago, going t... (Below threshold)
OldeForce:

About 40 years ago, going through some newspapers members of the family had collected, we found copies of newspapers from the two days after Lincoln was shot. These were not "first" printings; seems the papers were printed several times over a number of days - the lead stories stayed the same, but secondary articles and adv changed. Even so, it was chilling to read these accounts, as we found them just a year or two after Kennedy's assasinantion.

Among the most popular anat... (Below threshold)

Among the most popular anatomical specimens and historical artifacts on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, DC are those related to President Abraham Lincoln. These include the bullet that ended his life, the probe used to locate the bullet, a blood-stained shirt cuff from the museum surgeon who attended the autopsy, and bone fragments and hair from Lincoln's skull. The collection also includes a pencil drawing of the deathbed scene made by the museum's medical illustrator immediately after the removal of Lincoln's body from the house in which he died. Casts of Lincoln's face and hands that were made by Leonard Volks when Lincoln finished his presidential campaign in 1860 are also on display. Not on display, but also in the collection, is John Wilkes Booth's 3rd, 4th and 5th cervical (neck) vertebrae was shot through the neck while holed up in Garrett's barn in Caroline County, Va.

Steven Solomon
Public Affairs Officer
National Museum of Health and Medicine,
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
6900 Georgia Avenue at Elder Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307
www.nmhm.washingtondc.museum

Because tax day is usually ... (Below threshold)

Because tax day is usually April 15, most Americans will never have the time to recognize this day. They'll be too busy navigating at the last minute the myriad of paperwork surrounding our strange and unusual income tax system. They might see a note in a news channel's crawl (ie: "This day in history, April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln shot in Ford Theatre") but it would be lost in the frenzy of tax stories.

what play was he watching w... (Below threshold)
sara:

what play was he watching when he was shot?

death to tyrants... interes... (Below threshold)
sienna:

death to tyrants... interesting. lincoln was watching "our american cousin" it was a comedy and boothe was not suspected because he was close with the owner of the theater and he was an actor. they just thought he came to see the show.




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