April 14, 1865: Why did the Lincolns take guests?

B. Nash

B. Nash


According to various sources the Lincolns invited more than a dozen people to accompany them to the theater that night. They all turned down the offer. In the end, Major Rathbone and Clara Harris accepted the opportunity. I think the original intention was for General and Mrs. Grant to be the honored guests with the president and the first lady. However, Grant bowed out. Some think that Grant would actually have been the “main attraction” to the the adoring public- had he gone that evening-after all, he won the war. My question is: Why did Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln need anyone to go with them after Grant voiced that he wouldn’t be attending?

Think about it: the Lincolns chose a Major in the army and his fiance’ as their guests. A General wasn’t chosen- a Major was. Doesn’t that rank seem low for one who would sit in a theater box with the Commander-in-Chief? That seems odd to me. Why didn’t the Lincolns simply enjoy the evening together as a couple. They truly needed some “alone time” to be sure. They had been alone for a carriage ride earlier that same day. Mrs. Lincoln had later commented that she hadn’t seen Mr. Lincoln so happy as she did then. In the end, there is absolutely one guest that should have been with the Lincolns- a bodyguard!

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2 Responses to “April 14, 1865: Why did the Lincolns take guests?”

  1. Kevin Lindsey says:

    Agreed…or at least a body guard who stayed at his post!

  2. Roger Norton says:

    Hi Bill. Very interesting post. I can only speculate, but I know that Clara Harris was a friend of Mary Lincoln’s, and I think Mary really enjoyed her company. So I think this may have been a possible factor as it was Mary herself who sent the invitation to the couple.

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