Special Supplement, Heroes of History

The assassination of President Lincoln

Published : 16 Jan 2020 06:38 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 04:57 PM

President Lincoln and wife with other friends, on April 14, 1865, evening visited Ford’s theatre for the purpose of witnessing the performance of the “American Cousin”. It was announced in the papers that General Grant would also be present, but that gentleman took the late train of cars for New Jersey.

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” and immediately leaped from the box, which was in the second tier, to the stage beneath, and across to the opposite side, 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 to the audience 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 of course 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 an 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 to attend to his condition.

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. An immense crowd was in front of it, all deeply 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, with Messrs. Summer, Colfax and Farnsworth; Judge Curtis, Governor Ogleeby, General Meigs, Colonel Hay, 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.