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attempted this crime while arranging for the other, but the one deputed to kill the Vice-President seems to have become alarmed, and Booth, after failing to reach Mr. Johnson, returned to his hotel about four o'clock, and wrote a letter to his mother, apparently under great excitement. He took his tea at the hotel at the usual hour, and then proceeded to the theatre. Colored people living on the alley saw him in conference with Spangler, and placing his horse in position after the hour when the performance commenced. Others saw him around the entrance soon after. An officer, as we shall see, saw him enter the passage leading to the State Box, but neither the police in front, the soldier who overheard his language full of menace against the President, nor the officer whom his apparent rudeness shocked, nor the President's own attendant, seemed to have had the slightest suspicion of the coming tragedy. No angel whispered a word of warning. Providence permitted the lull of security to surround all.
But we will now follow President Lincoln in the events of the day which closed his mortal career with such appalling suddenness.
His son, Captain Robert Lincoln, who is on General Grant's staff, breakfasted with him on Friday morning, having just returned from the capitulation of Lee, and the President passed a happy hour listening to all the details. While at breakfast, he heard that Speaker Colfax was in the house, and sent word that he wished to see him immediately in the reception-room. He conversed with him nearly an hour about his future policy as to the rebellion, which he was about to submit to the cabinet. Afterward, he had an interview with Mr. Hale, minister to Spain, and several senators and representatives.
At eleven o'clock, the cabinet and General Grant met with him; and, in one of the most satisfactory and important cabinet meetings held since his first inauguration, the future policy of the administration in the great work of reconstruction, and restoring the Southern States to their ancient place beside their sister States, was harmoniously and unanimously agreed on. When it adjourned, Secretary Stanton said he felt that the government was stronger than at any previous period since the rebellion commenced; and the President is said, in his characteristic way, to have told them that some
important news would soon come, as he had had a dream of a ship sailing very rapidly, and had invariably had that same dream before great events in the war, Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, &c.
In the afternoon, the President had a long and pleasant interview with Governor Oglesby, Senator Yates, and other leading citizens of his State. In the evening, Mr. Colfax called again at his request, and Mr. Ashmun, of Massachusetts, who presided over the Chicago Convention of 1860, was present. To them he spoke of his visit to Richmond, and when they stated that there was much uneasiness at the North while he was at the rebel capital, for fear that some traitor might shoot him, he replied jocularly that he would have been alarmed himself if any other person had been President, and gone there, but that he did not feel any danger whatever. Conversing on a matter of business with Mr. Ashmun, he made a remark that he saw Mr. Ashmun was surprised at; and immediately, with his well-known kindness of heart, said, "You did not understand me, Ashmun; I did not mean what you inferred, and I will take it all back, and apologize for it." He afterwards gave Mr. Ashmun a card, written on his knee, to admit himself and friend early the next morning to converse further about it.
Turning to Mr. Colfax, he said, "You are going with Mrs. Lincoln and me to the theatre, I hope." But Mr. Colfax had other engagements, expecting to leave the city the next morning.
He then said to Mr. Colfax, "Mr. Sumner has the gavel of the Confederate Congress, which he got at Richmond to hand to the Secretary of war, but I insisted then that he must give it to you; and you tell him for me to hand it over." Mr. Ashmun alluded to the gavel which he still had, and which he had used at the Chicago Convention, and the President and Mrs. Lincoln, who was also in the parlor, rose to go to the theatre. It was half an hour after the time they had intended to start, and they spoke about waiting half an hour longer, for the President went with reluctance, as General Grant had gone north, and he did not wish the people to be disappointed, as they had both been advertised to be there.
Mr. Lincoln finally stated that he must go to the theatre, and
warmly pressed Speaker Colfax and Mr. Ashmun to accompany him; but they excused themselves on the score of previous engagements. At about 8 P. M., Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln started for the carriage, the latter taking the arm of Mr. Ashmun, and the President and Mr. Colfax walking together. As soon as the President and Mrs. Lincoln were seated in the carriage, the latter gave orders to the coachman to drive around to Senator Harris' residence for Miss Harris. As the carriage rolled away they both said "good-by, good-by," to Messrs. Ashmun and Colfax, and the carriage had in a moment more disappeared from the grounds in front of the White House.
As they proceeded at once to the residence of Senator Harris, we cannot give an account more detailed or authentic than that delivered under oath by Major Rathbone, the step-son of the Hon. Mr. Harris, and which Miss Harris confirms in every particular.
"Henry R. Rathbone, Brevet Major in the Army of the United States, being duly sworn, says, that on the 14th day of April, instant, at about twenty-minutes past eight o'clock in the evening, he, with Miss Clara H. Harris, left his residence at the corner of Fifteenth and H streets, and joined the President and Mrs. Lincoln and went with them in their carriage to Ford's Theatre in Tenth street. The box assigned to the President is in the second tier on the right-hand side of the audience, and was occupied by the President and Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris, and this deponent, and by no other person. The box is entered by passing from the front of the building in the rear of the dress circle to a small entry or passageway, about eight feet in length and four feet in width. This passageway is entered by a door which opens on the inner side. The door is so placed as to make an acute angle between it and the wall behind it on the inner side. At the inner end of this passageway is another door, standing squarely across, and opening into the box. On the left-hand side of the passageway, and being near the inner end, is a third door, which also opens into the box. This latter door was closed. The party entered the box through the door at the end of the passageway. The box is so constructed that it may be divided into two by a movable partition, one of the doors described opening into each. The front of the box is about ten or twelve feet in length, and in the centre of the railing is a small pillar overhung with a curtain. The depth of the box from front
to rear is about nine feet. The elevation of the box above the stage, including the railing, is about ten or twelve feet.
'When the party entered the box, a cushioned arm chair was standing at the end of the box furthest from the stage and nearest the audience. This was also the nearest point to the door by which the box is entered. The President seated himself in this chair, and, except that he once left the chair for the purpose of putting on his overcoat, remained so seated until he was shot. Mrs. Lincoln was seated in a chair between the President and the pillar in the centre above described. At the opposite end of the box, that nearest the stage, were two chairs, in one of these, standing in the corner, Miss Harris was seated. At her left hand, and along the wall running from that end of the box to the rear, stood a small sofa. At the end of this sofa, next to Miss Harris, this deponent was seated. The distance between this deponent and the President, as they were sitting, was about seven or eight feet, and the distance between this deponent and the door was about the same. The distance between the President, as he sat, and the door was about four or five feet. The door, according to the recollection of this deponent, was not closed during the evening.
"When the second scene of the third act was being performed, and this deponent was intently observing the proceedings upon the stage, with his back towards the door, he heard the discharge of a pistol behind him, and looking around, saw through the smoke a man between the door and the President. At the same time deponent heard him shout some word which deponent thinks was ‘Freedom.' This deponent instantly sprang towards him and seized him. He wrested himself from the grasp and made a violent thrust at the breast of deponent with a large knife. Deponent parried the blow by striking it up, and received a wound several inches deep in his left arm between the elbow and the shoulder. The orifice of the wound is about an inch and a half in length, and extends upwards towards the shoulder several inches. The man rushed to the front of the box and deponent endeavored to seize him again, but only caught his clothes as he was leaping over the railing of the box. The clothes, as deponent believes, were torn in this attempt to seize him. As he went over upon the stage, deponent cried out with a loud voice, 'Stop that man.' Deponent then turned to the President. His position was not changed. His head was slightly bent forward and his eyes were closed. Deponent saw that he was unconscious, and, supposing him mortally wounded, rushed to the door for the purpose of calling medical aid. On reaching the outer door of the passageway as above described, deponent found it
barred by a heavy piece of plank, one end of which was secured in the wall and the other rested against the door. It had been so securely fastened that it required considerable force to remove it. This wedge or bar was about four feet from the floor. Persons upon the outside were beating against the door for the purpose of entering. Deponent removed the bar and the door was opened. Several persons who represented themselves to be surgeons were allowed to enter. Deponent saw there Colonel Crawford, and requested him to prevent other persons from entering the box. Deponent then returned to the box and found the surgeons examining the President's person. They had not yet discovered the wound. As soon as it was discovered it was determined to remove him from the theatre. He was carried out, and this deponent then proceeded to assist Mrs. Lincoln, who was intensely excited, to leave the theatre. On reaching the head of the stairs deponent requested Major Potter to aid him in assisting Mrs. Lincoln across the street to the house to which the President was being conveyed. The wound which deponent had received had been bleeding very profusely, and, on reaching the house, feeling very faint from the loss of blood, he seated himself in the hall, and soon after fainted away and was laid upon the floor. Upon the return of consciousness deponent was taken in a carriage to his residence.
"In the review of the transaction, it is the confident belief of the deponent that the time which elapsed between the discharge of the pistol and the time when the assassin leaped from the box, did not exceed thirty seconds. Neither Mrs. Lincoln nor Miss Harris had left their seats."
H. R. RATHBONE.
Subscribed and sworn before me
this 17th day of April, 1865,
A. B. OLIN,
Justice of the Supreme Court of the
District of Columbia, City of Washington, ss:
“Clara H. Harris, being duly sworn, says, that she has read the foregoing affidavit of Major Rathbone, and knows the contents thereof; that she was present at Ford's Theatre with the President and Mrs. Lincoln, and Major Rathbone, on the evening of the 14th of April, instant; that at the time she heard the discharge of the pistol she was attentively engaged in observing what was transpiring upon the stage, and looking around she saw Major Rathbone spring from his seat and advance to the opposite side of the box; that she saw him engaged as if in a struggle with another man, but