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therefore went in and out before the people, always unarmed, generally unattended. He received hundreds of visitors in a day, his breast bare to pistol or knife. He walked at midnight, with a single secretary, or alone, from the Executive Mansion to the War Department and back. He rode through the lonely roads of an uninhabited suburb from the White House to the Soldiers' Home in the dusk of the evening, and returned to his work in the morning before the town was astir. He was greatly annoyed when it was decided. that there must be a guard at the Executive Mansion, and that a squad of cavalry must accompany him on his daily drive; but he was always reasonable, and yielded to the best judgment of others.

Four years of threats and boastings that were unfounded, and of plots that came to nothing, thus passed away; but precisely at the time when the triumph of the nation seemed assured, and a feeling of peace and security was diffused over the country, one of the conspiracies, apparently no more important than the others, ripened in the sudden heat of hatred and despair. A little band of malignant secessionists, consisting of John Wilkes Booth, an actor of a family of famous players; Lewis Powell, alias Payne, a disbanded rebel soldier from Florida; George, Atzerodt, formerly a coachmaker, but more recently a spy and blockaderunner of the Potomac; David E. Herold, a young druggist's clerk; Samuel Arnold and Michael O'Laughlin, Maryland secessionists and Confederate soldiers; and John H. Surratt, had their ordinary rendezvous at the house of Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, the widowed mother of the last named, formerly a woman of some property in Maryland, but reduced by reverses to keeping a small boarding-house in Washington.

Booth was the leader of the little coterie. He was a



young man of twenty-six, strikingly handsome, with that ease and grace of manner which came to him of right from his theatrical ancestors. He had played for several seasons with only indifferent success, his value as an actor lying rather in his romantic beauty of person than in any talent or industry he possessed. He was a fanatical secessionist, and had imbibed at Richmond and other Southern cities where he played a furious spirit of partizanship against Lincoln and the Union party. After the reëlection of Mr. Lincoln, he visited Canada, consorted with the rebel emissaries there, and—whether or not at their instigation cannot certainly be said-conceived a scheme to capture the President and take him to Richmond. He passed a great part of the autumn and winter pursuing this fantastic enterprise, seeming to be always well supplied with money; but the winter wore away, and nothing was accomplished. On March 4 he was at the Capitol, and created a disturbance by trying to force his way through the line of policemen who guarded the passage through which the President walked to the east front of the building. His intentions at this time are. not known; he afterward said he lost an excellent chance of killing the President that day.

His ascendancy over his fellow-conspirators seems to have been complete. After the surrender of Lee, in an access of malice and rage akin to madness he called them together and assigned each his part in the new crime which had risen in his mind out of the abandoned abduction scheme. This plan was as brief and simple as it was horrible. Powell, alias Payne, the stalwart, brutal, simple-minded boy from Florida, was to murder Seward; Atzerodt, the comic villain of the drama, was assigned to remove Andrew Johnson; Booth reserved for himself the most conspicuous rôle of the tragedy.

It was Herold's duty to attend him as page and aid him in his escape. Minor parts were given to stage-carpenters and other hangers-on, who probably did not understand what it all meant. Herold, Atzerodt, and Surratt had previously deposited at a tavern at Surrattsville, Maryland, owned by Mrs. Surratt, but kept by a man named Lloyd, a quantity of arms and materials to be used in the abduction scheme. Mrs. Surratt, being at the tavern on the eleventh, warned Lloyd to have the "shooting-irons" in readiness, and, visiting the place again on the fourteenth, told him they would probably be called for that night.

The preparations for the final blow were made with feverish haste. It was only about noon of the fourteenth that Booth learned that the President was to go to Ford's Theater that night to see the play "Our American Cousin." It has always been a matter of surprise in Europe that he should have been at a place of amusement on Good Friday; but the day was not kept sacred in America, except by the members of certain churches. The President was fond of the theater. It was one of his few means of recreation. Besides, the town was thronged with soldiers and officers, all eager to see him; by appearing in public he would gratify many people whom he could not otherwise meet. Mrs. Lincoln had asked General and Mrs. Grant to accompany her; they had accepted, and the announcement that they would be present had been made in the evening papers; but they changed their plans, and went north by an afternoon train. Mrs. Lincoln then invited in their stead Miss Harris and Major Rathbone, the daughter and the stepson of Senator Ira Harris. Being detained by visitors, the play had made some progress when the President appeared. The band struck up "Hail to the Chief," the actors ceased play



ing, the audience rose, cheering tumultuously, the President bowed in acknowledgment, and the play

went on.

From the moment he learned of the President's intention, Booth's every action was alert and energetic. He and his confederates were seen on horseback in every part of the city. He had a hurried conference with Mrs. Surratt before she started for Lloyd's tavern. He intrusted to an actor named Matthews a carefully prepared statement of his reasons for committing the murder, which he charged him to give to the publisher of the "National Intelligencer," but which Matthews, in the terror and dismay of the night, burned without showing to any one. Booth was perfectly at home in Ford's Theater. Either by himself, or with the aid of friends, he arranged his whole plan of attack and escape during the afternoon. He counted upon address and audacity to gain access to the small passage behind the President's box. Once there, he guarded against interference by an arrangement of a wooden bar to be fastened by a simple mortise in the angle of the wall and the door by which he had entered, so that the door could not be opened from without. He even provided for the contingency of not gaining entrance to the box by boring a hole in its door, through which he might either observe the occupants, or take aim and shoot. He hired at a livery-stable a small, fleet horse.

A few minutes before ten o'clock, leaving his horse at the rear of the theater in charge of a call-boy, he went into a neighboring saloon, took a drink of brandy, and, entering the theater, passed rapidly to the little hallway leading to the President's box. Showing a card to the servant in attendance, he was allowed to enter, closed the door noiselessly, and secured it with the wooden bar he had previously made ready, without

disturbing any of the occupants of the box, between whom and himself yet remained the partition and the door through which he had made the hole.

No one, not even the comedian who uttered them, could ever remember the last words of the piece that were spoken that night-the last Abraham Lincoln heard upon earth. The tragedy in the box turned play and players to the most unsubstantial of phantoms. Here were five human beings in a narrow space —the greatest man of his time, in the glory of the most stupendous success of our history; his wife, proud and happy; a pair of betrothed lovers, with all the promise of felicity that youth, social position, and wealth could give them; and this handsome young actor, the pet of his little world. The glitter of fame, happiness, and ease was upon the entire group; yet in an instant everything was to be changed. Quick death was to come to the central figure-the central figure of the century's great and famous men. Over the rest hovered fates from which a mother might pray kindly death to save her children in their infancy. One was to wander with the stain of murder upon his soul, in frightful physical pain, with a price upon his head and the curse of a world upon his name, until he died a dog's death in a burning barn; the wife was to pass the rest of her days in melancholy and madness; and one of the lovers was to slay the other, and end his life a raving maniac.

The murderer seemed to himself to be taking part in a play. Hate and brandy had for weeks kept his brain in a morbid state. Holding a pistol in one hand and a knife in the other, he opened the box door, put the pistol to the President's head, and fired. Major Rathbone sprang to grapple with him, and received a savage knife wound in the arm. Then, rushing forward,

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