Monday, April 13, 2015

The Lincoln Assassination 5

The Lincoln Assassination, Part 5
With Lincoln’s death the country seemed simply to come unglued, as if all that was coherent and meaningful rested overmuch on the uncanny force of the person who had just been assassinated. How much the country needed the magnanimity and sense of compassion that seemed incarnate in Abraham Lincoln! And yet sadly all that seemed to move humankind in the yawning void caused by this man’s passing was marked by inchoate rage and bottomless grief, small-mindedness, rancor and recrimination – and a bottomless quest for revenge.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Lincoln Assassination 4

The Lincoln Assassination, Part 4
But obviously logic wasn't foremost in the mind of John Wilkes Booth; at 10:13 PM he entered the Presidential box at Ford’s Theater and from a distance of about four feet shot Abraham Lincoln once behind the left ear, the projectile lodging behind his right eye. The President died at 7:22 the next morning. As Booth was to write in his journal, “Our country owed all her troubles to Lincoln, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Lincoln Assassination 3

The Lincoln Assassination, Part 3
There was so much that was ironic about the events of Friday, April 14, 1865, not the least of which was the New York Times editorial the previous day that stated confidently, "The last man has been slain." Another bit of irony: The cause of the South was finished six days earlier - when Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union forces, that army, the South's most fearsome weapon, had literally passed out of existence, so the thought of taking the President's life had ceased logically to have any practical value whatsoever.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Lincoln Assassination 2

The Lincoln Assassination, Part 2
Indeed, it didn’t look like he had anything to fear that way for when it came to dying a violent death in office, the President seemed to live a charmed life.
How many examples there were!
For starters, there was the very real threat in Baltimore toward the end of the President-elect's train ride from Springfield to Washington a million years earlier in 1861. The threat to Lincoln’s life was real enough, at least to the satisfaction of a very young Alan Pinkerton who convinced his superiors that Lincoln, in disguise and with his self-appointed body guard Ward Hill Lamon at his side [and armed to the teeth] should slip into the nation's capital on a different train ahead of schedule.
There is some evidence that poison had been tried as well - at one point the castor oil that had been ordered from a pharmacy had arrived at the Executive Mansion deadly with poison, but had had too odd a smell to be swallowed. Another story had it that a trunk of old clothes taken from yellow fever victims in Cuba had been delivered to the Executive Mansion in the hope that Lincoln would come down with that deadly disease.
Then one summer’s day, while riding alone one humid summer night to the Soldiers Home [the 19th century’s answer to Camp David] a hidden marksman had fired at him, the bullet whizzing through his top hat – while he was wearing it! He asked that no mention be made of it. "It was probably an accident,” he said, “and might worry my family."
And only a few days before his fatal trip to Ford's Theater Lincoln had walked through the still-burning streets of Richmond, the gutted capital of the Confederacy. The city had only just fallen to Union troops and Lincoln wanted to see it. Needless to say, he would have made an inviting target indeed for some John Wilkes Booth lookalike, some hater of all things Yankee, say, in an upstairs window with a rifle. "I was not scared about myself one bit," Lincoln commented afterward.
Yes, God Himself seemed to have marked this man for the completion of some special task…

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Lincoln Assassination 1

The Lincoln Assassination, Part 1
We’re coming up to the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln Assassination, April 14, 1865. Let’s recap a few of the facts of that tsunami event.
In 1861 Lincoln’s new Secretary of State William Seward had declared confidently, "Assassination is not an American habit or practice." Lincoln, naturally, agreed. "What do they want to kill me for? If they kill me they will run the risk of getting a worse man."
Lincoln tried to get that message across to his good friend and self-appointed bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon. "This boy is monomaniac on the subject of my safety,” he said.  If Lamon had his way, said the President, Lincoln “would spend all day sitting in Lamon's lap.” For the rest, he said, "If they kill me I shall never die another death." And, "I determined when I first came here I should not be dying all the while."
The other side of Lincoln said, simply, “I cannot bring myself to believe that any human being lives who would do me harm.” And, “Die when I may I want it said by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

Friday, April 3, 2015

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 319

'I believe I have the popular reputation of being a storyteller, but I do not deserve the name in its original sense, for it is not the story itself, but its purpose, or effect, that interests me... The sharpness of a refusal or the edge of a rebuke may be blunted by an appropriate story, so as to save wounded feeling and yet serve the purpose. No, I am not simply a storyteller, but storytelling as an emollient saves me much friction and distress.'
- Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lincoln’s Wit/Wisdom 318

'I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.'
- Abraham Lincoln