Abraham Lincoln's Death


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 29, 1865

The April 29, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly is a first edition description of the Assassination and Death of President Abraham Lincoln.  We present below, for your research and perusal, the entire newspaper.  Click on the thumbnails to be taken to the full, readable, rendition of that page.


Abraham Lincoln Assassination

 Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Death

Abraham Lincoln's Death

Lincoln's Box at Ford's Theater

President Lincoln is Shot by John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth kills Abraham Lincoln

Fort Sumter at the End of the Civil War

The Siege of Mobile Alabama

The Siege of Mobile, Alabama

President Abraham Lincoln and Flag Draped Coffin

Abraham Lincoln's Coffin

General Sherman's Army

Sherman's Army





[APRIL 29, 1865.


(Previous Page) which the bolt-hasps were fastened. In regard to the next stage of BOOTH'S movements there is some degree of uncertainty. He had been noticed as he passed through the dress-circle by a Mr. FERGUSON, who was sitting on the opposite side of the theatre. This man knew BOOTH, and recognized him. He had been talking with him a short time before. FERGUSON states that when BOOTH reached the door of the corridor leading from the dress-circle to the boxes he halted, " took off his hat, and, holding it in his left hand, leaned against the wall behind him." After remaining thus for the space of half a minute, " he stepped down one step, put his hand on the door of the little corridor leading to the box, bent his knee against it," when the door opened and BOOTH entered. After his entrance to the corridor he was of course invisible to FERGUSON, and, before the fatal shot, was probably seen by no one but the sentry at the door of the corridor. The latter he is said to have passed on the plea that the President had sent for him. What passed before the shot is only conjecturable. He made his observations, doubtless, through the aperture in the door provided for that purpose. And here we come upon another proof of a deliberately-prepared plan. The very seats in the box had been arranged to suit his purpose, either by himself or, as is more likely, by some attaché of the theatre in complicity with him. The President sat in the left-hand corner of the box, nearest the audience, in an easy armchair. Next to him, on the right, sat Mrs. LINCOLN, Some distance to the right of both Miss HARRIS was seated, with Major RATHBONE at her left and a little in the rear of Mrs. LINCOLN. BOOTH rapidly surveyed the situation. The play had reached the second scene of the third act. Mrs. LINCOLN, intent on the play, was leaning forward, with one hand resting on her husband's knee. The President was leaning upon one hand, and with the other was adjusting a portion of the drapery, his face wearing a pleasant smile as it was partially turned to the audience. As to the act of assassination, there are two conflicting statements. According to one, BOOTH fired through the door at the left, which was closed. But this seems to have been unnecessary; and it is far more probable that he entered rapidly through the door at the right, and the next moment fired. The ball entered just behind the President's left ear, and though not producing instantaneous death completely obliterated all consciousness.

Major RATHBONE hearing the report, saw the assassin about six feet distant from the President, and encountered him ; but BOOTH shook off his grasp. The latter had dropped his weapon—an ordinary pocket-pistol -and had drawn a long glittering knife, with which he inflicted a wound upon the Major; and then, resting his left hand upon the railing, vaulted over easily to the stage, eight or nine feet below. As he passed between the folds of the flag decorating the box, his spur, which he wore on the right heel, caught the drapery and brought it down. He crouched as he fell, falling upon one knee, but quickly gained an up-right position, and staggered in a theatrical manner across the stage, brandishing his knife, and shouting, "Sic semper tyrannis!" He made his exit by the "tormentor" on the opposite side of the stage, passing MISS KEENE as he went out. The villain succeeded in making his escape without arrest. In this he was probably assisted by accomplices and by MOSBY'S guerillas.

The President was immediately removed to the house of Mr. PETERSON, opposite the theatre, where he died at twenty-two minutes past seven the next morning, never having recovered his consciousness since the fatal shot. In his last hours he was attended by his wife and his son ROBERT, and prominent members of his Cabinet. His death has plunged the nation into deepest mourning, but his spirit still animates the people for whom he died.


LOWER the starry flag Amid a sovereign people's lamentation For him the honored ruler of the nation ;

Lower the starry flag !

Let the great bells be toll'd

Slowly and mournfully in every steeple, Let them make known the sorrow of the people; Let the great bells be toll'd !

Lower the starry flag, And let the solemn, sorrowing anthem, pealing, Sound from the carven choir to fretted ceiling; Lower the starry flag!

Let the great bells be toll'd,

And let the mournful organ music, rolling, Tune with the bells in every steeple tolling; Let the great bells be toll'd !

Lower the starry flag;

The nation's honored chief in death is sleeping, And for our loss our eyes are wet with weeping; Lower the starry flag !

Let the great bells be toll'd ;

His honest, manly heart has ceased its beating, His lips no more shall speak the. kindly greeting;

Let the great bells be toll'd!

Lower the starry flag;

No more shall sound his voice 'in scorn of error, Filling the traitor's heart with fear and terror; Lower the starry flag !

Let the great bells be toll'd ;

He reverenced the gift which God has given, Freedom to all, the priceless boon of Heaven, Let the great bells be toll'd !

Lower the starry flag;

Hit dearest hopes were wedded with' the nation, He valued more than all the land's salvation ;

Lower the starry flag!

Let the great bells be toll'd ;

His name shall live on History's brightest pages, His voice shall sound through Time's remotest ages ; Let the great bells be toll'd !


AH ! Grief doth follow fast on Victory ! The victors' shout is lost in silence, deep--Too deep for our poor human utterance. The jubilant flags that only yesterday

Were the bright heralds of a nation's gain, Now droop at half-mast for her woeful loss. Our foremost Hero fallen, sore at heart we lie Prostrate, in tears, at our dear Lincoln's grave !

The dust of our great Leader, kissed to rest, And folded to our hearts, is there inurned, Beyond the breath of scandal, in sweet peace. Wounded with his wound, our hearts receive The mantle of his spirit as it flies.

His words remain to us our sacred Law: Do we not hear them from the Capitol?—"Malice toward none, with charity for all!"

The blow at Sumter touched us not so much With grief, or awe of treason, as this last—This cruelest thrust of all at his dear head, Which with spent rage the baffled serpent aimed. It is the world's old story, told again,

That they who bruise the serpent's venomed head Must bear, even as Christ did, its last foul sting, Taking the Savior's Passion with His Crown !

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans ; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."—Last Words of President Lincoln's Second Inaugural.



SATURDAY, APRIL 29, 1865.     

Abraham Lincoln.

GREATER love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. ABRAHAM LINCOLN has done that. He has sealed his service to his country by the last sacrifice. On the day that commemorates the great sorrow which Christendom reveres, the man who had no thought, no wish, no hope but the salvation of his country, laid down his life. Yet how many and many a heart that throbbed with inexpressible grief as the tragedy was told would gladly have been stilled forever if his might have beat on. So wise and good, so loved and trusted, his death is a personal blow to every faithful American household ; nor will any life be a more cherished tradition, nor any name be longer and more tenderly beloved by this nation, than those of ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

On the 22d of February, 1861, as he raised the American flag over Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, he spoke of the sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty not only to this country, but, "I hope," he said, " to the world for all future time." Then, with a solemnity which the menacing future justified, and with a significance which subsequent events revealed, he added, "But if this country can not be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated upon this spot than surrender it." The country has been saved by cleaving to that principle, and he has been assassinated for not surrendering it.

Called to the chief conduct of public affairs at a time of the greatest peril, he came almost unknown, but he brought to his great office a finer comprehension of the condition of the country than the most noted statesmen of all parties, and that sure instinct of the wiser popular will which made him the best of all leaders for a people about to maintain their own government in a civil war. Himself a child of the people, he lived and died their friend. His heart beat responsive to theirs. He knew their wants, their character, their powers, and knowing their will often better than they knew it themselves, he executed it with the certainty of their speedy approval. No American statesman ever believed more heartily than he the necessary truth of the fundamental American principle of absolute equality before the laws, or trusted with ampler confidence the American system of government. But he loved liberty too sincerely for passion or declamation. It was the strong, sturdy, Anglo-Saxon affection, not the Celtic frenzy.

With an infinite patience, and a dauntless tenacity, he was a man of profound principles but of no theories. This, with his insight and intuitive appreciation of the possibilities of every case, made him a consummate practical statesman. He saw farther and deeper than others because he saw that in the troubled time upon which he was cast little could be wholly seen. Experience so vindicated his patriotic sagacity that he acquired a curious ascendency in the public confidence ; so that if good men differed from his opinion they were inclined to doubt their own. Principle was fixed as a star, hut policy must be swayed by the current. While many would have dared the fierce fury of the gale and have sunk the ship at once, he knew that there was a time to stretch every inch of canvas and a time to lay to. He was not afraid of " drifting." In statesmanship prudence counts for more than daring. Thus it happened that some who urged him at the beginning of the war to the boldest measures, and excused what they

called his practical faithlessness by his probable weakness, lived to feel the marrow of their bones melt with fear, and to beg him to solicit terms that would have destroyed the nation. But wiser than passion, more faithful than fury, serene in his devotion to the equal rights of men without which he knew there could hence-forth be no peace in this country, he tranquilly persisted, enduring the impatience of what seemed to some his painful delays and to others his lawless haste ; and so, trusting God and his own true heart, he fulfilled his great task so well that he died more tenderly lamented than any ruler in history.

His political career, from his entrance into the Illinois Legislature to his last speech upon the Louisiana plan of reconstruction, is calmly consistent both in the lofty humanity of its aim and the good sense of its method, and our condition is the justification of his life. For the most malignant party opposition in our history crumbled before his spotless fidelity ; and in his death it is not a party that loses a head, but a country that deplores a father. The good sense, the good humor, the good heart of ABRAHAM LINCOLN gradually united the Democracy that despised the " sentimentality of abolitionism," and the abolitionism that abhorred the sneering inhumanity of " Democracy," in a practical patriotism that has saved the country.

No one who personally knew him but will now feel that the deep, furrowed sadness of his face seemed to forecast his fate. The genial gentleness of' his manner, his homely simplicity, the cheerful humor that never failed are now seen to have been but the tender light that played around the rugged heights of his strong and noble nature. It is small consolation that he dies at the moment of the war when he could best be spared, for no nation is ever ready for the loss of such a friend. But it is something to remember that he lived to see the slow day breaking. Like Moses he had marched with us through the wilderness. From the height of patriotic vision he beheld the golden fields of the future waving in peace and plenty out of sight. He beheld and blessed God, but was not to enter in. And we with bowed heads and aching hearts move forward to the promised land.


No President has entered upon the duties of his office under circumstances so painful as those which surround ANDREW JOHNSON. The pause between the death of Mr. LINCOLN and the indication of the probable course of his successor is profoundly solemn. But there can be but one emotion in every true American heart, and that is, the most inflexible determination to support President JOHNSON, who is now the lawful head of a great nation emerging from terrible civil war, and entering upon the solemn duty of pacification.

ANDREW JOHNSON, like his predecessor, is emphatically a man of the people. He has been for many years in public life, and when the war began he was universally hailed as one of the truest and sturdiest of patriots. His former political association with the leaders of the Southern policy, his position as a Senator from a most important border State, indicated him to the conspirators as an invaluable ally, if he could be seduced to treason. If we are not misinformed, JOHN C. BRECKINRIDGE under-took this task ; and how he failed—how ANDREW JOHNSON upon the floor of the Senate denounced treason and traitors—is already historical. From that moment he was one of the firmest friends of the Government, and most ardent supporters of the late Administration. His relations with Mr. LINCOLN were peculiarly friendly ; and when the news of ROSECRANS's victory at Mill Spring reached the President at midnight, he immediately sent his secretary to tell the good news to Mr. JOHNSON.

He was appointed Military Governor of Tennessee upon the national occupation of that State, and for three years he has stood in that exposed point at the front, a faithful sentry. Formerly a slaveholder, and familiar with the public opinion of the border, he early saw the necessity of the emancipation war policy ; and although in his addresses at the beginning of the war he spoke of it as still uncertain and prospective, his views ripened with those of the country, and when the policy was declared he supported it with the sincerity of earnest conviction.

His provisional administration of government in Tennessee, which was for some time debatable ground, was firm and faithful. By the necessity of the case he was the object of the envenomed hostility of the rebels and the bitterest opposition of the enemies of the Ad-ministration. The most serious charge of his exercise of arbitrary power was the severe oath as a qualification for voting which Governor JOHNSON approved before the Presidential election. When the remonstrants appealed to President LINCOLN, he replied that he was very sure Governor JOHNSON would do what was necessary and right. And while the opposition at the North was still loudly denouncing, JEFFERSON DAVIS, in one of his furious speeches in Georgia, after the fall of Atlanta, declared that there were thirty thousand men in Tennessee eager to

take up arms the moment the rebel army appeared in the State. It was to prevent those thirty thousand from doing by their votes what they were ready to do by their arms that the oath was imposed. JEFFERSON DAVIS furnished the amplest justification for the action of Governor JOHNSON. President LINCOLN was reproached for the too conciliatory character of his " Border State policy." Let it not be for-gotten that at the time when he was thought to be too much influenced by it he appointed Mr. JOHNSON Governor of Tennessee. That Governor JOHNSON'S course in the State was ape proved by the unconditional loyal men there is shown by the adoption of the new free constitution and the opening of the new era under the administration of Governor BROWNLOW.

Of a more ardent temperament than Mr. LINCOLN, whose passionless patience was sublime, Mr. JOHNSON has had a much sharper personal experience of the atrocious spirit of this rebellion. He has seen and felt the horrors of which we have only heard. The great guilt of treason is vividly present to his mind and memory, and his feeling toward the leaders who are morally responsible for this wasting war is one of stern hostility.

But the Governor of Tennessee in a most critical period of civil war is now President of the United States at a time when the war in the field is ending and the peace of a whole country is to be secured. What is the great truth that confronts him at the opening of his new career? It is that the policy of his predecessor had been so approved by the mind and heart of the country, had so disarmed hostility and melted prejudice, that the spirit of that policy has almost the sanctity of prescription.

That President JOHNSON will so regard it we have the fullest confidence. That what every loyal man sees, so strong and devoted a patriot as he will fail to see, is not credible. That the successor of ABRAHAM LINCOLN will adopt a policy of vengeance is impossible. Of the leading traitors, as he said a fortnight since, he holds that the punishment should be that which the Constitution imposes. "And on the other hand," he added, "to the people who have been deluded and misled I would extend leniency and humanity, and an invitation to return to the allegiance they owe to the country." These are not the words of passion, but of humanity and justice. They express what is doubtless the conviction of the great multitude of loyal citizens of the country. With a modest appeal for the counsel and assistance of the gentlemen who were the advisers of Mr. LINCOLN, and with calm reliance upon God and the people, he addresses himself to his vast responsibilities amidst the hopes and prayers and confidence of his country.


THE bloody assault upon Secretary SEWARD, a " chivalric" blow struck at a man of sixty-five lying in his bed with a broken arm, has shown the country how precious to it is the life of a man who has been bitterly traduced by many of his former political friends since the war began. Before the shot was fired at Sumter, Mr SEWARD tried by some form of negotiation to prevent the outbreak of civil war. He was then —does Mr. HORACE GREELEY remember ?—as-sailed with insinuations of treachery. Will Mr. HORACE GREELEY inform us how it was treacherous to try to prevent the war by negotiation with intending rebels, if, while the war was raging, it was patriotic to urge negotiation with rebels in arms? Will he also tell us whether it was more disloyal to the Union to recognize American citizens not yet in rebellion, or after they had slain thousands and thousands of brave men in blood and torture to call them "eminent Confederates?" Will he teach us why Mr. SEWARD was to be held up to public suspicion because he communicated with Judge CAMPBELL and recommended Mr. HARVEY as Minister to Portugal, while Mr. GREELEY calls one of the basest panders to this scourging war, a man who does his fighting by sending criminals from Canada to burn down theatres and hotels in New York full of women and children, "a distinguished American" of the other party in our civil war?

For four years Mr. SEWARD, as Secretary of State, has defended this country from one of the most constantly threatening perils, that of foreign war. His name in England is not beloved. But seconded by his faithful lieutenant, Mr. ADAMS, he has maintained there the honor of the American name, and persistently asserted the undiminished sovereignty of the Government of the United States. In France, with the cool, clear, upright man who so fitly represented the simplicity and honesty of a popular Government, he has managed our relations with a skill that has protected us from most serious complications in Mexico. Engaged with the most unscrupulous and secret of modern diplomatists, Louis NAPOLEON, he has with admirable delicacy of skill prevented his interference in our domestic affairs. His dispatches have been free from bluster or timidity. They all show, what his life illustrates, a perfect serenity of faith in the final success of free institutions and the strength of a popular Government.

Like every man in the country, Mr. SEWARD

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