Thursday, February 26, 2009

Booth "killed" four people not one

As John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box on April 14, 1865 he drew his weapon and fired it into the back of Lincolns skull. But history sometimes forgets the that there were three other people sitting in the presidential box. Mary Lincoln suffered from severe depression and it is very likely that her actual death in 1883 was preceded by her actual death on April 15, 1865. When Mr. Lincoln died Mrs Lincoln may have died too. But if we include Mrs. Lincoln in the numbers we have to recall that two more people occupied the presidential box on that April evening.

After shooting Lincoln, Major Henry Rathbone stood up and attempted to subdue the presidential assassin. Booth drew a knife and stabbed Rathbone int he arm and his wife watched helplessly as Rathbone's bled. Booth escaped Rathbones grasp and eventually escaped to Virginia where he was killed on April 26. Rathbone eventually married the woman who accompied him with the Lincolns on July 11, 1867. The couple eventually produced two children and in 1882 Rathbone was appointed U.S. consul to Germany and the family moved the Hamburg, Germany. But Rathbone could not escape the memories of April 14, 1865. A friend later said "I don't think that he ever recovered from the shock of his night in President Lincoln's box, the scene always haunted his mind." On December 23, 1883 Rathbone murdered his wife Clara and their two children were saved when Clara's sister managed to take them away safely. The former major was committed to a mental institution in Germany. There he remained until his death in 1911.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Who died last? The fate of the Lincoln Conspirators

What was the fate of these men? My biggest question is who died first? Who died last? Here is the accurate list.

1. John Wilkes Booth-->Booth went first, he died on April 26, 1865
2. George Atzerot, Mary Surratt, David Harold, Lewis Powell all went on July 7, 1865
3. Michael O'Laughle died on September 23, 1867 while serving his prison sentence.
4. Edmund Spangler died on February 7, 1865
5. Sam Mudd (Not proven to be directly involved in the Booth cnspiracy) died on Janurary 10, 1883
6. Sam Arnold died on September 21, 1906. He was one of only two conspirators to survive into the 20th Century.
7. John Surratt lived longer than any of the other conspirators. He died on April 21 1916.

By the way this is my 200th blog post. It only seemes like yesterday that I started this blog. Its been a great ride so far.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Franklin Pierce and the Lincoln Assassination

After serving as president Franklin Pierce settled in his home state of New Hampshire. During the Civil War, President Pierce was known as a "doughface" which was a person who had southern sympathies but supported the fighting cause of the north. As a former member of the democratic party he did not support the policies of Republican President Abraham Lincoln. Publicly Pierce blamed Lincoln for causing the war and his fondness for liquer made his political situation even worse.

After Lincoln was murdered in April 14, 1865 a mob surrounded Pierce's home. To save his home he gave a impassioned speech to the crowd, urging them to disperse peacefully, and they did. Pierce died in 1869 and little has been written of him since. In 2009 the channel C-Span gathered several historians together and excluding President Obama, the station had them rank all 42 presidents. Lincoln was ranked first and Franklin Pierce was ranked 40th out of 42 presidents.

As a side note, Millard Fillmore ranked 37th out of 42 presidents.

Guess they were forgoetten.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ignorance is bliss

Two former presidents, Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce failed to properly mourn the death of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. Despite being born in New York, President Millard Fillimore has some southern sympathies and he tended to speak out against the Lincoln Administration. Fillmore was never a big Lincoln fan. In 1861 when Lincoln was traveling to Washington by train he visited several prominant American cities. One of these stops was in Buffalo, New York which was the home of former president Millard Fillmore. At the station Fillmore coldly greeted Lincoln and just exchanged a few words with him. Then both boarded seperate carriages and Lincoln traveled to the American Hotel. Fillmore's reception can be seen disrespectful to the president-elect and this continued after Lincoln's death.

After the assassination a mob, unforgiving of Fillmore's sympathy for the South, surrounded his house and draped it in black cloth, then splashed black ink on it. For Fillmore ignorance was bliss. He ignored a nation wide mourning in which churches, schools and homes were drapped in mourning. When the Lincoln funeral train stopped in Buffalo the former president was there to greet it. Perhaps to save face pubiclly, perhaps because he finally came to his senses, our 13th President paid his final respects to our 16th President.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lincoln: the Ultimate American Icon/Myth

W.E.B. Dubois once remarked that Lincoln was "brave enough to be inconsistent." Fredrick Douglas once said that Lincoln “began by playing Pharaoh” but “ended by playing Moses.” In 1922 H.L. Mencken remarked "Lincoln becomes the American solar myth, the chief butt of American credulity and sentimentality." He later wrote "But meanwhile the varnishers and veneerers have been busily converting Abe into a plaster saint, thus marking hum fit for adoration in the Y.M.C.A.’s. All the popular pictures of him show him in his robes of state, and wearing an expression fit for a man about to be hanged. There is, so far as I know, not a single portrait of him showing him smiling—and yet he must have cackled a good deal, first and last: who ever heard of a storyteller who didn’t? Worse, there is an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, an obvious effort to pump all his human weaknesses out of him, and so leave him a mere moral apparition, a sort of amalgam of John Wesley and the Holy Ghost." The point is that Lincoln has become that ultimate icon, the person that everybody American leader has to speak about, act like and so forth.

I noticed that President Obama gave a speech for the Lincoln Bicentennial in Springfield on Feb. 12. I once read that people claim that Lincoln is their representative for any and everything. For example, gay rights activists use Lincoln as an icon and claim that he was gay. Both Republicans and Democrats use Lincoln as they symbol but if Lincoln was living today he might be an Independent. Yes, the independents have used Lincoln as a symbol in the past. Insurance companies and even cleaning companies have used his name to evoke consumer confidence and reliability. Communist groups and other social groups that do not have a major voice in the majority have used Lincoln as their icon. After reading Obama's speech I was fascinated that he mentioned a few other Presidents when he said:

"Lincoln understood what Washington understood when he led farmers and craftsmen and shopkeepers to rise up against an empire. What Roosevelt understood when he lifted us from Depression, built an arsenal of democracy, created the largest middle-class in history with the GI Bill. It's what Kennedy understood when he sent us to the moon."

Notice that Obama doesn't mention Washington (A Federalist) or Reagan? The mere mention of other famous Presidential Democrats places Lincoln with them rather than at home with his fellow Republicans. Lincoln is an icon, a symbol that everyone wishes to use to justify that they are in the right. Too bad the old man couldn't speak up for himself. I wonder how he would feel about the past few presidents like Bush or Obama's big-time spending bill? Hey I can be biased but at least I mentioned presidents from both parties.

The full text of Obama's speech is here

Other sources:

H.L. Mencken's article on Lincoln is here

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Great Lincoln line

I found this while searching Lincoln news articles today.

As Lincoln traveled via train to Washington D.C. in 1861 his transportation made several key stops along the way. One of these was in Painesville, Ohio which is located just east of Cleveland.

"I have stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me," President-elect Abraham Lincoln announced when his inaugural train steamed into tiny Painesville, Ohio, on a chill February morning in 1861. "And in the arrangement," he quipped to the curious crowd lining the tracks, "I have the best of the bargain." Lincoln was commenting on his "beautiful face" and Lincoln expert Harold Holtzer wrote an excellent article detailing this at the U.S. News.

Historians have given Lincoln credit for understanding the power of the photograph and using it to catapult him to elected office. Some claim that this insight goes as far back as when Lincoln was running for the U.S. House of Representatives. Despite his opinions on his own beauty he was willing to have himself photographed and so many photographs of Lincoln have been uncovered since his death that one can see the effects that the war and deaths in the family had on him from 1861 to '62 to '63 to '64 '65.

After reading the article I did not realize that author Nathaniel Hawthrone called Lincoln "the homeliest man I ever saw." Lincoln could always find humor in his "beauty". Once he quipped to a person painting his portrait "It is allowed to be ugly in this world, but not as ugly as I am." Truth be told Abraham Lincoln was no beauty, he did not possess the dapper elegence of John Kennedy or the bearing of George Washington but he was our greatest president and he will always be our greatest president.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Whose that man?

Poor Kid
Home owner
Regular guy
Role Model
Animal Lover
Lottle Brither
Store Clerk

All of those maxims describe Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Father Abraham

Abraham Lincoln was born 200 years ago today on Feb. 12, 1809. Personally, I could not allow this important day to pass without blogging about it. I've been recently reading the new biography of our 16th president which was published a few weeks back. To celebrate Lincoln's birthday I am writing here some interesting facts about Lincoln. I am using White's new book as my source.

On May 7, 1833 Abraham Lincoln was appointed as the postmaster of New Salem. Lincoln earned twenty-five to thirty dollars a year.

Just before Lincoln boarded a train to assume his first elected seat in 1834 he stopped by the house of Coleman Smoot. Mr. Smoot was a prosperous farmer in the New Salem region and his influence and support helped Lincoln get elected to the Illinois legislature. "did you vote for me?" Lincoln asked Smoot. Smoot told him "I did." Lincoln replied "You must loan me money to by a suitable clothing for I want to make a decent appearance in the legislature." Smoot then had to loan him two hundred dollars. Lincoln promised to pay it back, took the cash and purchased the first suit that he ever owned.

By the age of eighteen Abraham Lincoln lost both his mother and his only living sibling, as sister named Sarah.

So much has been written about Abraham Lincoln that he can be referred to as a icon or even a myth. Lincoln himself may have left us the perfect poem for our need to read about Lincoln. Lincoln was a poor mans poet and here is the statement:

"Abraham Lincoln is my nam
And with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote both hast and speed
And left it here for fools to read."

Happy Birthday Father Abraham. I am one of many fools who always wants to learn more about you.


White, Ronald C. A. Lincoln. New York: Random House, 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 little known facts about Abraham Lincoln

A great link depicts the 10 things that you didn't know about Abraham Lincoln.

10 Things You Didn't Know About Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln was the first president born beyond the original 13 states
Posted February 10, 2009
1. Born in Kentucky in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was the first president born beyond the boundaries of the original 13 states.

2. Lincoln worked as a ferry operator and a flatboat pilot before entering the world of politics.

3. In 1849, Lincoln obtained Patent No. 6,469 on a device that was designed to keep boats afloat when they passed over a sandbar or entered shallow water; to this day, he is the only president to hold a patent.

4. Lincoln was the first president to sport a beard; he began to grow his beard shortly after his election in 1860, when supporters and advisers suggested that facial hair would soften his somewhat harsh appearance.

5. The Lincoln family shared the White House with several unusual pets, including two goats named Nanny and Nanko. The Lincolns also had a dog named Fido whom they left in Illinois after the presidential victory in 1860 because they were worried that the long train ride to Washington would be too difficult and frightening for him.

6. A turkey was sent to the White House for a holiday dinner in 1863, and Lincoln's son Tad pleaded that it not be executed. Lincoln issued "an order of reprieve," sparing the turkey's life.

7. Lincoln was the first president to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.

8. In 1876, a group of men tried to remove Lincoln's body from Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Ill., and hold it for a large ransom.

9. The Lincoln Bedroom was never a bedroom in Lincoln's time; it was an office where Lincoln met with cabinet members and signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The room still contains a few pieces of office furniture from Lincoln's time along with a handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address.

10. Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, was a distant relative of Tom Hanks, making the president and the actor fourth cousins, four times removed.


Facts About the Presidents (H. W. Wilson Co.)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
New York Post
Chicago Tribune
National Park Service
Time magazine
More News
Lincoln's Great Awakening
Lincoln's Lessons for Barack Obama

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lincoln movie and the actor who will play him

Coming published a interview with actor Liam Neeson who is scheduled to play Lincoln in a Steven Spielburg directed epic. He even claimed to be an "educated" person on Lincoln's life because he claims to have read over twenty books on our 16th President. Neeson has also done his research. He claims to have read key speeches and letters and has had a complete tour of Fords Theatre which included a physical examination of many Lincoln artifacts.

"I've been there. I've been to Washington, I've held his wallet, I've said a prayer on the Bible he was inaugurated on. Still ongoing… there's an extraordinary Lincoln bicentennial committee, a place I go to in Washington. I got to know this guy Michael Bishop who's the co-chair. He gave me access to all this Lincoln stuff. I read his personal letters and stood on the stage at Ford's Theater." Liam Neeson.

This is good news. Neeson is perfect because of his easy going voice, tall/lanky figure and thin face. I cannot wait for this. Stay tuned I will continue to publish more about this upcoming film.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Abraham Lincoln and Captain Kirk? "Lincolns" appearance on Star Trek

It is rare that a fictional tv series is able to capture the full hearted feelings of a important historical personality. The original Star Trek tv show was able to capture the essence of Abraham Lincoln on one of its episodes. I have been a Star Trek fan since 1986 and have enjoyed the show from Kirk to Picard.....sorry I am not a fan of Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise (the other three Star Trek tv series).

During the original Star Trek third season Lincoln made an appearence in the episode "The Savage Curtain" which first aired on tv on March 7, 1969. In the show Captain James T. Kirk (played by William Shatner) and Mr. Spock (played by Lenard Nimoy) are forced to fight alongside such historical figures as Abraham Lincoln of Earth and Surak of Vulcan by aliens who want to understand the concepts of "good" and "evil." The Enterprise is surprised to detect life signs coming from an apparently lifeless planet. During the ensuing investigation, an image of Abraham Lincoln appears on the viewscreen.

"Captain’s log, stardate 5906.4. Who or what has been beamed aboard our vessel? An alien who has changed himself into this form? An illusion? I cannot conceive it possible that Abraham Lincoln could have actually been reincarnated. And yet his kindness, his gentle wisdom, his humor, everything about him is so right."
Lincoln makes a brief tour of the ship, then invites Kirk and Spock to beam down to a thousand-kilometer Earth-like region that suddenly appears on the sensors. Kirk seems all too ready to admire the "illusion," whereas McCoy and Scotty insist that the whole affair is a setup to lure Kirk and Spock to their deaths on the planet's deadly surface. Kirk and Spock accept the invitation, and discover themselves locked in a mortal combat of good versus evil, with the good represented by themselves, Lincoln, and Surak (the legendary Vulcan philosophical leader), and evil represented by four archetypes, including Kahless, founder of the Klingon Empire; Zora of Tiburon; ancient human conqueror Genghis Khan, and the charismatic but thoroughly despicable 21st century tyrant Colonel Green. The planet's denizens reveal themselves to be a race of rock-like beings, the Excalbians, who often stage such combats to learn more about alien philosophies. Since Kirk refuses to fight, the aliens raise the stakes by damaging the Enterprise's matter/antimatter equipment, which will cause the ship to "blow to bits" in four hours – unless the "good" side manages to defeat their opponents.

"Supplemental log, stardate 5906.5. Engineer Scott reporting. The Enterprise is doomed to explode in two hours if Captain Kirk is defeated by the enemy on the surface of the planet. The enormous power of the Enterprise has been neutralized and we sit here watching, unable to assist."
Of course, Kirk and Spock prevail, and are allowed to beam back to a miraculously repaired Enterprise.

During the episode, Lincoln (played by actor Lee Bergere) did an excellent job playing Abraham Lincoln. He even has a mole on his right cheek just like Lincoln did although it is really makeup. One of his best lines in "The Savage Curtain" is a comment that he makes to Captain Kirk. Here it is:

"We fight on their level.
With trickery, brutality, finality.
We match their evil.
I know, James. I was reputed to be a gentle man.
But I was commander in chief...
during the four bloodiest years of my country's history.
I gave orders that sent...
a hundred thousand men to their death...
at the hands of their brothers."

To me that is something that Abraham Lincoln would say but it has been wrongly attributed to the real Lincoln.

Another exchange that is interesting is Lincoln's brief conversation with Lt. Uhura. For those people who are not Star Trek fans, Lt. Uhura is played by actresses Nichelle Nichols who is African-American.

Uhura: Excuse me, Captain Kirk. -

Kirk: Yes, Lieutenant.

Lincoln: What a charming Negress. Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property.

Uhura: But why should I object to that term, sir? In our century, we've learned not to fear words.

Kirk: May I present our communications officer, Lieutenant Uhura.

Lincoln: The foolishness of my century...had me apologizing where no offense was given.

Another fun exchange occurs later in the episode. During the "good" and "evil" battle, Spock's hero is captured by the enemy and Lincoln volunteers to save him. To do this Lincoln must secretly enter the enemy camp and rescue Surak (Spock's hero). Kirk refuses to let Lincoln go. Here is the exchange.

Lincoln: James, James. Remember, I was something of a backwoodsman. I doubt that you could do what I was bred to.

Kirk: I can't let you risk it, Mr. President.

Spock: I am no longer president.

Lincoln is killed in the attempt and once again he is sacrificed for the good of others.

"The Savage Curtain" is a great episode and being a fan of Abrham Lincoln makes this episode even better! It is highly recommended to any buff even if Star Trek isn't their thing. Check it out, you might be surprised. Also, check out these pics, this is a great representation of President Lincoln. Lincoln is Kirk's hero and Shatner does a great job connecting the two characters. Expressing sadness over the death of Lincoln.

Kirk: They seemed so real. And to me, especially Mr. Lincoln. I feel I actually met Lincoln.

Spock: Yes, and Surak. Perhaps in a sense they were real, Captain. Since they were created out of our own thoughts,how could they be anything but what we expected them to be?

Kirk: It was so hard for me to see him die again. I feel I understand what Earth... must have gone through to achieve final peace.

Its great stuff, if you get a chance then check it out.

The fictional Abraham Lincoln on the original Star Trek tv series