Monday, April 14, 2008


On April 14th, 1865, one of the most defining and most tragic of events happened in American history - President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, as the Civil War was drawing to a close.

Here's how the New York Times headlines announced the news:

President Lincoln Shot by an Assassin

The Deed Done at Ford's Theatre Last Night


The President Still Alive at Last Accounts.

No Hopes Entertained of His Recovery.

Attempted Assassination of Secretary Seward.


And here's how their dispatch began:

Washington, Friday, April 14, 12:30 A.M. - The President was shot in a theatre tonight, and is perhaps mortally wounded. Secretary Seward was also assassinated.

Second Dispatch.Washington, Friday, April 14 - President Lincoln and wife, with other friends, this evening visited Ford's Theatre for the purpose of witnessing the performance of the "American Cousin."

It was announced in the papers that Gen. Grant would also be present, but he 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 act, 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 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, rushing toward 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.

Over the years since Television began, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln has been addressed in many TV shows, mini-series, and TV movies. And not just those of a historical bent, like "The Great Man's Whiskers" and "North & South", but also series like 'The Time Tunnel', 'The Twilight Zone', and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show'.

On February 9th, 1956, 96 year old Samuel Seymour appeared as a guest on 'I've Got A Secret'. (The celebrity guest that night was Lucille Ball.) Mr. Seymour was the last surviving witness to the assassination of President Lincoln, and he was five years old at the time. He had gone with the family of one of his young friends.
All Mr. Seymour remembered of that fateful and fatal night was that a man fell out of the balcony and onto the stage. It wasn't until after they had escaped the pandemonium in the theater did the little boy find out that the President had been killed.

Mr. Seymour lived in Maryland and he died in April of 1956, 91 years after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

If you want to see Mr. Seymour's appearance on 'I've Got A Secret', click here or here.

Toby OB

1 comment:

mkelley said...

hey toby, i love stuff like that. i had a similar experience recently. I was out on a walk and i happened to pass theodore roosevelt's birthplace on east 20th street. it's run by the national parks. i went in and a tour was starting so i went on it.

there was a photo of lincoln's funeral moving north on broadway toward union square. in the window of the roosevelt house were two small children watching the casket go by. one of the children was teddy roosevelt!
see ya, mike

sounds like something from "lost"