Page images
PDF
EPUB

Supplementary Proclamation.

Key West.

Official Bulletin.

and sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth. By the President:

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. “WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."

And, on the twelfth April, the following supplementary proclamation :

" WHEREAS, By my proclamation of this date the port of Key West, in the State of Florida, was inadvertently included among those which are not open to commerce :

Now, therefore, be it known that I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do hereby declare and make known that the said port of Key West is and shall remain open to foreign and domestic commerce, upon the same conditions by which that commerce has hitherto been governed.

'In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this eleventh day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America, the eighty-ninth. By the President:

A BRAHAM LINCOLN. “WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."

The light in which the administration regarded the position of affairs can best be judged from the following official bulletin from the War Department, bearing date April thirteenth, 1865 :

“This Department, after mature consideration and consultation with the Lieutenant-General upon the results of the recent campaigns, has come to the following determination, which will be carried into effect by appropriate orders, to be immediately issued :

Official Bulletin.

Drafting and Recruiting Stopped.

Expenses Curtailed.

"First. To stop all drafting and recruiting in the loyal States.

Second. To curtail purchases for arms, ammunition, quartermaster's and commissary supplies, and reduce the expenses of the military establishment and its several branches.

Third. To reduce the number of general and staff officers to the actual necessities of the service.

Fourth. To remove all military restrictions upon trade and commerce, so far as may be consistent with the public safety.

As soon as these measures can be put in operation, it will be made known by public orders.

“EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War."

The Traitor President, who, on the fifth of April, had issued a proclamation to the effect that he should hold on to Virginia—where was he at this time?

CHAPTER XXV.

THE LAST ACT.

Interview with Mr. Colfax-Cabinet Meeting-Incident-Evening Conversation-Possi

bility of Assassination Leaves for the Theatre-In the Theatre—Precautions for the Murder-The Pistol Shot-Escape of the Assassin-Death of the President-Pledges Redeemed-Situation of the Country-Effect of the Murder-Obsequies at Washington -Borne Home-Grief of the People--At Rest.

On the morning of Friday, April fourteenth, 1865, after an interesting conversation with his eldest son, Robert, a captain on General Grant's staff, relative to the surrender of Lee, with the details of which the son was familiar, the President, hearing that Schuyler Colfax, Speaker of the House of Repre

Cabinet Meeting Held.

President's Dream.

Interview with Mr. Colfax.

sentatives, was in the Executive Mansion, invited the latter to a chat in the reception-room, and during the following hour the talk turned upon his future policy toward the rebellion--a matter which he was about to submit to his Cabinet.

After an interview with John P. Hale, then recently appointed Minister to Spain, as well as with several Senators and Representatives, a Cabinet meeting was held, at eleven o'clock, General Grant being present, which proved to be one of the most satisfactory and important consultations held since his first inauguration. The future policy of the Administration was harmoniously and unanimously agreed upon, and upon the adjournment of the meeting the Secretary of War remarked that the Government was then stronger than at any period since the commencement of the rebellion.

It was afterwards remembered that at this meeting the President turned to General Grant and asked him if he had heard from General Sherman. General Grant replied that he had not, but was in hourly expectation of receiving dispatches from him, announcing the surrender of Johnston.

Well," said the President, "you will hear very soon now, and the news will be important.”

Why do you think so ?" said the General. "Because," said Mr. Lincoln, "I had a dream last night, and ever since the war began I have invariably had the same dream before any very important military event has occurred.” He then instanced Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, etc., and said that before each of these events he had had the same dream, and turning to Secretary Welles, said :

“It is in your line, too, Mr. Welles. The dream is that I saw a ship sailing very rapidly, and I am sure that it portends some important national event.”

In the afternoon, a long and pleasant conversation was held with eminent citizens from Illinois,

In the evening, during a talk with Messrs. Colfax and Ashman—the latter of whom presided at the Chicago Con

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Possibility of Assassination.

Kindness of Heart.

Messrs. Ashman and Cclfax.

vention, in 1860-speaking about his trip to Richmond, when the suggestion was made that there was much uneasiness at the North while he was at what had been the rebel capital, for fear that some traitor might shoot him, Mr. Lincoln sportively replied, that he would have been alarmed himself, if any other person had been President and gone there, but that, as for himself, he did not feel in any danger whatever.

This possibility of an assassination had been presented before to the President's mind, but it had not occasioned him a moment's uneasiness. A member of his Cabinet one day said to him, “Mr. Lincoln, you are not sufficiently careful of yourself. There are bad men in Washington. Did it never occur to you that there are rebels among us who are bad enough to attempt your life ?" The President stepped to a desk and drew from a pigeon-hole a package of letters.

There,” said he, “every one of these contains a threat to assassinate me. I might be nervous, if I were to dwell upon the subject, but I have come to this conclusion : there are opportunities to kill me every day of my life, if there are persons disposed to do it. It is not possible to avoid exposure to such a fate, and I shall not trouble myself about it."

Upon the evening alluded to, while conversing upon a matter of business with Mr. Ashman, he saw that the latter was surprised at a remark which he had made, when, prompted by his well-known desire to avoid any thing offensive, he immediately said, “You did not understand me, Ashman : I did not mean what you inferred, and I will take it all back, and apologize for it.” He afterward gave Mr. A. a card, admitting himself and friend for a further conversation early in the morning.

Turning to Mr. Colfax, he said, “You are going with Mrs. Lincoln and me to the theatre, I hope.” The President and General Grant had previously accepted an invitation to be present that evening at Ford's Theatre, but the General had

Messrs. Ashman and Colfax.

Goes to the Theatre,

The Assassin's Precautions.

been obliged to leave for the North. Mr. Lincoln did not like to entirely disappoint the audience, as the announcement had been publicly made, and had determined to fulfil his acceptance.

Mr. Colfax, however, declining on account of other engagements, Mr. Lincoln said to him, “ 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. Ashman alluded to the gavel, still in his possession, which he had used at Chicago; and about half an hour after the time they had intended to leave for the theatre, the President and Mrs. Lincoln rose to depart, the former reluctant and speaking about remaining at home a half hour longer.

At the door he stopped and said, “Colfax, do not forget to tell the people in the mining regions, as you pass through them, what I told you this morning about the development when peace comes, and I will telegraph you at San Francisco." Having shaken hands with both gentlemen and bidden them a pleasant good-bye, the President with his party left for the theatre.

The box occupied by them was on the second tier above the stage, at the right of the audience, the entrance to it being by a door from the adjoining gallery. One, who had planned Mr. Lincoln's assassination with extraordinary precautions against any failure, having effected an entrance by deceiving the guard, found himself in a dark corridor, of which the wall made an acute angle with the door. The assassin had previously gouged a channel from the plaster and placed near by a stout piece of board, which he next inserted between the wall and the panel of the door.

Ingress then being rendered impossible, he next turned toward the entrances to the President's box, two in number, as the box by a sliding partition could, at pleasure, be converted into two. The door at the bottom of the passage was

« PreviousContinue »