Remembering The Lincoln Assassination
On this day April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln entered the Ford Theater with his wife Mary. No doubt the couple was in high spirits, the Civil War was finally over after 4 years of the most bloody battles in American History. At the cost of 650,000 lives, The Union was saved, The slaves were emancipated. The President and First Lady were in for a night of entertainment. The popular play, " Our American Cousin" was on the bill for the evening. Mary asked Abe what the young couple sitting next to them would think about her "hanging on to him so". Lincoln replied "She won't think anything about it". Those were to be his last words.
At approximately 10:15 PM, John Wilkes Booth opened the door behind the President and shot him once in the head at close range. Booth then stabbed Rathborn and leapt off the Balcony while Rathborn yelled "stop that man!".
Booth landed on the stage and was heard by some of the theater patrons to say "sic semper tyrannis" (thus always to tyrants)
Most reports say that Booth broke his leg while leaping from the balcony, his spur caught on bunting. Booth then flashed the knife he used to stab Rathborn to hold off the crowd and exited the theater backstage.
Dr Charles Leale was the first to attend to the President and told Mary Todd that the wound was fatal. Mary said "His dream was prophetic". Lincoln had recanted a dream to his wife and friends that seemed to predict his assassination. In the dream the Lincoln comes across a funeral with much grieving. When Lincoln asks a soldier " Who has died in the White House" the reply is "the President, he was assassinated".
Lincoln's body was moved from the theater to the nearest house where he dies early that morning . The first Lady was so diswrought by her husbands untimely death that she lay bedridden in the White House for five weeks. She was never the same again.
Lincoln's assassination is a cold reminder that even our greatest leaders are only a breath away from the cruel minds who would do them harm. No matter how popular or unpopular, our President is our President. Our leaders cannot be all things to all people, and in divisive times, a healthy debate can turn into a traitorous opposition. What separates a democratic republic from a feudalistic dark age is the acknowlegement that we solve our issues with elections, not violence.