Welcome back to Life of Heritage Corner! A while back, I mentioned that I might do a post on the Lincoln Assassination in this series. It was met with requests, so I decided to go for it! The murder of the 16th president has long been of interest to me, because of all the stories and people involved and misconceptions surrounding motives and perspectives of the “main characters,” if you will. Today, I’m sharing some bits I find particularly interesting that aren’t usually covered. Let’s roll!
Not many people know that Lincoln actually died on the floor of the president’s box in Ford’s Theater. Dr. Charles Leale was the first to treat Lincoln, resuscitating him with mouth to mouth. Lincoln was then carried to the Peterson House across the street from the theater in an attempt to salvage Lincoln’s reputation. (The idea of the president dying in a theater on Good Friday was appalling to the general population. Funny no one seemed to care that he had been there in the first place…)
2| Stanton was a monster.
Mary Lincoln was understandably distraught over the events of that night, and, never being a lady of strong mental stability, was in a hysterical state of mind. This however does not justify Secretary of War Edwin Stanton in banning her from the bedside. She was not with her husband in his last moments because of him. Heartless, cruel and inexcusable.
3| Lincoln’s body was wrapped in an Union flag.
Obviously inappropriate, but since the flag’s stars did not match the actual number of states in the Union at that time, I suppose I’ll let that slide *halo*
4| Booth was not a Southerner.
John Wilkes Booth’s father and mother were both from England. They later came to America and I will agree, Booth was an American citizen. But he was not a southerner. That’s not something you can change just by moving to a certain part of the country. That takes generations. Booth grew up in Maryland, another mark against him being “southern.” Sure, it’s south of the Mason-Dixon, but culturally, the south doesn’t consider them as a southern state 😉 (And don’t come telling me my baby is gonna be half yankee, lol! The Peterson clan might have the accent but not the culture, and they haven’t been in Maryland long enough to be yankees; they are from Tennessee 😉)
5| Tad Lincoln wasn’t with his family that night.
Tad was representing the Lincoln family at Ford’s rival theater, Grover’s, watching Aladdin and his Magic Lamp. A chaperone was with him. And how did he learn his father was shot? From a man who got up on stage and announced it to the crowd. All people could hear following this announcement was Tad, 12-years-old, screaming.
6| The original plan wasn’t to kill Lincoln.
Booth had been planning for over a year to kidnap Lincoln and turn him over the Confederacy to use as a bargaining chip. This plan was not endorsed by any Confederate organizations and it’s very unlikely that President Davis was even aware of this proposition.
7| The Garrett family didn’t know who Booth was.
The Garrett family had housed Booth for a day prior to the showdown with federal troops. But it wasn’t until the soldiers showed up and surrounded their barn that they learned the identity of their guest.
8| Willie Jett is the reason they found Booth.
A soldier from Mosby’s rangers, Jett was the one who introduced Booth to the Garretts and ultimately led the federal entourage to the farm.
9| Mary Surratt didn’t deserve to die.
The whole reason she was put on trial was because her son was a friend of Booth’s and they had held meetings in her house about the kidnapping scheme. Did she aid Booth in his escape? Yes, ultimately. Does that warrant a death sentence? No.
10| There is some controversy over whether it was actually John Wilkes Booth they killed that night.
I cannot prove anything one way or the other. I personally believe it was Booth that was killed, but there is a lot of evidence about connections to the assassination that magically disappeared. And it’s interesting that no one came after Stanton, who put his stamp of approval on many atrocities committed by the Union, including the murder of civilians and torture and murder of Prisoners of War. Pages of previously intact diary entries in Booth’s date book disappeared after falling into Stanton’s hands. Postmortem photographs of Booth also disappeared. Some claimed that the dead man had auburn hair, not black and they were silenced. Booth’s body was hidden from the public.
Again, I’m not saying it wasn’t Booth, but we haven’t been told the whole story. Stanton wasn’t above hiding or destroying evidence that didn’t fit his narrative. He proved that by hiding the shawl that Jefferson Davis was wearing when he was captured so the public wouldn’t find out that the president wasn’t wearing a dress. Scientists and historians have been trying to get Booth’s body released for a DNA test, but have been blocked on every turn. Just saying, there’s more to this story that we may never know.
Don’t come after me, I’m just sharing both sides of the story XP
Which fact surprised you the most? Have one you would like to share? Interested in some resources on Lincoln, the assassination and the “Booth Conspiracy?” Let me know in the comments if I should do another post on the resources I’ve found!
Have a blessed day and God Bless America!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.
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