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him. Presenting himself at the door of the box, he took a quick survey of the interior. He found everything favorable to his purpose; and, taking a small Derringer pistol in one hand, and a double-edged dagger in the other, he thrust his arm into the entrance, where the President, sitting in an arm-chair, presented to his full view the back and side of his head. A flash, a sharp report, a puff of smoke, and the fatal bullet had entered the President's brain. Mr. Lincoln did not stir. People thought that the report of the pistol had some connection with the play; but the awful truth was soon apparent. There was no escape for the murderer by the way through which he had reached the box; for the crowd was too great. Major Rathbone, the instant he comprehended what was done, sprang upon Booth, who, throwing him off, dropped his 'pistol, and struck him with his dagger, inflicting a flesh wound upon the officer's arm. Then the murderer rushed to the front of the box, parted the folds of the flag with which it was draped for the occasion, and leaped to the stage, half falling as he descended, his spurs having caught in the drapery. Then springing to his feet, he uttered with theatrical emphasis the words of the state motto of Virginia: "Sie semper tyrannis!" and added: "The South is avenged." Quickly turning, he rushed from the stage, striking from his path all whom he met, and, escaping at the rear of the theater, was in his saddle and away before the party around the President and the audience fully comprehended what had been done. Only a single man in the audience took in at once the meaning of the scene; and, although he undertook to follow Booth, the assassin had disappeared before he reached the door.
Mrs. Lincoln screamed, and Miss Harris called for water. The scene among the audience defies all description. Women shrieked and fainted. Men called for vengeance. The most terrible uproar prevailed. Laura Keene, the actress, begged the audience to be calm, and entered the box from the stage, bearing water and cordials. The President was entirely unconscious; and, as soon as the surgeons, who had gathered quickly to him, had ascertained the position and nature of the
wound, the helpless form was borne across Tenth street to the house of a Mr. Peterson. Surgeon-general Barnes, after examination, pronounced the wound a mortal one. The words fell upon the ears of Secretary Stanton, who, bursting into tears, responded: "Oh, no! General, no, no!" Attorney-general Speed, Secretary Welles, Postmaster-general Dennison, General Meigs, Mr. McCulloch, the new Secretary of the Treasury, and Senator Sumner were gathered around the bed, the last holding one of the President's hands, and sobbing like a child. In an adjoining room, supported by her son Robert and Mrs. Senator Dixon, sat Mrs. Lincoln, bewildered and crushed by her great grief. Around the unconscious form of the President the great men of the nation bowed, and wept, watching the heaving of his breast, until, at twenty-two minutes past seven in the morning, he breathed his last.
In another part of the city, at the moment of the murder and alarm at the theater, another scene of terrible violence was enacted, which showed that one of the many conspiracies that had been organized to destroy the heads of the government was in process of execution.
A few days previously, Mr. Seward had been thrown from his carriage, and severely injured. He was still very low, and under the most careful medical and surgical treatment. A little after ten, on this fatal evening, the door-bell of his residence was rung by a man who said he came with medicine from Dr. Verdi, Mr. Seward's physician, which it was necessary for him to deliver in person. The servant who admitted him protested that no one was permitted to see Mr. Seward. The man pushed him aside, and mounted the stairs. When he was about to enter the Secretary's room, Mr. Frederick Seward, the Secretary's son, appeared, and inquired his business. He gave the same reply that he had given to the servant, when the gentleman told him that he could not enter. In return for this refusal, Mr. Frederick Seward received a stunning blow upon his forehead, with the butt of a pistol; and the man pushed on to the bedside of the Secretary, mounted the bed, and, aiming at Mr. Seward's throat, stabbed him three
times. He would undoubtedly have killed him, had he not been seized around the body by the nurse of Mr. Seward, a soldier named Robinson. While the assassin was struggling with Robinson, Mr. Seward summoned sufficient strength to roll himself off the bed. The murderer, inflicting severe wounds upon Robinson, burst away from him, rushed to the door, forced his way down stairs, stabbing Major Augustus Seward and one of his father's attendants on the way, and escaped into the street. He had stabbed no less than five persons. This conspirator, known afterwards to the public by the name of Payne, was Lewis Payne Powell.
The effect of these two tragedies upon the popular feeling in the city of Washington may possibly be imagined, but it cannot be described. Some cried for retaliation upon the leaders of a rebellion that could inspire such deeds, and for revenge even upon the helpless prisoners in our hands. Others were possessed by a sense of horror; others by emotions of terror; others by an overwhelming grief; and all by a feeling of uncertainty and insecurity. How wide was the conspiracy? How comprehensive was the plot? Who were the designated victims? What would be the next development? There was no sleep in Washington that night. A terrible solemnity took possession of the noisy capital. Only the military were busy. All the drinking shops of the city were closed, the outlets of the city were guarded, and every necessary step was taken for the protection of the persons of the other members of the government.
The effect of these terrible events upon the popular heart throughout the country was touching in the extreme. From the sunniest hills of joy, the people went down weeping into the darkest valleys of affliction. The long, sad morning of the President's death was full of the sound of tolling bells. It was everywhere the same. By a common impulse the bells from every tower in the land gave voice to the popular grief; and from every dwelling and store and shop, from every church and public building, the insignia of sorrow were displayed. The markets were literally cleared of every fabric that could
be used for the drapery of mourning. Men met in the streets, and pressed each other's hands in silence, or burst into tears. The whole nation, which, the previous day, was jubilant and hopeful, was precipitated into the depths of a profound and tender woe. Millions felt that they had lost a brother, or a father, or a dear personal friend. It was a grief that brought the nation more into family sympathy than it had been since the days of the Revolution. Men came together in public meetings, to give expression to their grief. The day on which the murder was announced to the country was Saturday; and on Sunday all the churches were draped with mourning; and from every pulpit in the land came the voice of lamentation over the national loss, and of eulogy to the virtues of the good President who had been so cruelly murdered. There were men engaged in the rebellion who turned from the deed with horror. Many of these had learned something of the magnanimity of Mr. Lincoln's character; and they felt that the time would come when the South would need his friendship. These regarded his death as a great calamity; but it must seem doubtful whether those who could starve helpless prisoners, and massacre black soldiers after they had surrendered, and murder in cool blood hundreds of Union men, for no crime but affection for the government which Mr. Lincoln represented, could have been greatly shocked by his assassination. They made haste, however, to disown and denounce the deed; and pretended to regard it, not as an act of the rebellion, but as the irresponsible act of a crazed desperado.
After the death of the President, his body was removed to the White House, from which he had gone on the previous evening, under such happy circumstances. A room had been prepared for its reception; and there it was placed in a coffin, which rested upon a grand catafalque. The affection and grief of the people were manifested by offerings of flowers, with which the room was kept constantly supplied. On Monday, the seventeenth, a meeting of congressmen and others. was held at the Capitol, presided over by Hon. Lafayette S.
Foster of Connecticut. A committee, of which Senator Sumner of Massachusetts was chairman, was appointed to make arrangements for the funeral; and this committee reported at an adjourned meeting, held at four o'clock in the afternoon, that they had selected as pall-bearers Messrs. Foster, Morgan, Johnson, Yates, Wade, and Conness, on the part of the Senate, and Messrs. Dawes, Coffroth, Smith, Colfax, Worthington, and Washburne, on the part of the House. They also presented the names of gentlemen, one from each state and territory of the Union, to act as a congressional committee, to accompany the remains to their final resting-place in Illinois.
Meantime, the body of the President had been embalmed; and, at ten o'clock, on Tuesday morning, the White House was thrown open, to give the people an opportunity to take their farewell of the familiar face, whose kind smile death had forever quenched. At least twenty-five thousand persons availed themselves of this liberty; and thousands more, seeing the crowd, turned back unsatisfied. Hundreds of those who
pressed around the sacred dust, uttered some affectionate word, or phrase, or sentence. The rich and the poor, the white and the black, mingled their tokens of affectionate regard, and dropped side by side their tears upon the coffin. It was humanity weeping over the dust of its benefactor.
On Wednesday, the day of the funeral, all the departments were closed, all public work was suspended, flags were placed at half-mast, and the public buildings were draped with mourning. The funeral services were held in the East Room, which was occupied by the relatives of the deceased (with the exception of Mrs. Lincoln, who was too much prostrated to leave her room,) and by governmental and judicial dignitaries, and such high officials from the states as had gathered to the capital to pay their last tribute of respect to the illustrious dead. The ceremonies were conducted with great solemnity and dignity. The scriptures were read by Rev. Dr. Hale, of the Episcopal church; the opening prayer was made by Bishop Simpson, of the Methodist church; the funeral address was delivered by Rev. Dr. Gurley, of the Presbyterian church which