President Lincoln: It was to be a wonderful evening for you.

The Presidential box at Ford's Theater

The Presidential box at Ford's Theater

It was to be a wonderful evening for you. You were tired but relieved. The long war was almost done. The Union had been saved and slavery’s reign over. You persevered through it all. You had baggage. The countless lives that had been lost would haunt you. You lost your darling son Willie. You wondered if you had never been elected President would he have died. Mary, too, had suffered. You feared for her sanity. You had enemies.

You kept letters mailed to you threatening to assassinate you. Mary was not told about them. There were, at last count, about eighty such letters that you put aside. Then there was that dream of yours. You had dreamt of a body in a casket in the White House. In the dream you made your way to that room where there was a crowd with soldiers guarding the coffin. When you asked who was dead, the soldier dutifully informed that it was the “President killed by an assassin.” How that dream must have frightened you. You felt so strongly about the dream that you mentioned it in the company of Mary. That proved to be a mistake. No matter how much you downplayed it afterward, Mary was truly shook up.

But on that night, April 14, 1865, you needed to put all that behind you. You had an evening at the theater with Mary! How you loved the theater. It was your church in a fashion. It was a time to relax and renew. You had been on a buggy ride with Mary earlier in the day. How happy you were for that moment. Mary even mentioned that she was taken aback somewhat by your good mood. It was a long time since you felt so good. You and Mary had talked of future plans. You really were looking forward to being “A. Lincoln, Attorney at Law” once again. You thought you’d return to Springfield at the end of your second term of office and resume the law business with Billy Herndon. There had been talk of traveling, as well. California seemed desirable-maybe Jerusalem or Europe, too.

As you sat down to enjoy the evening at Ford’s, those things were on your mind. The crowd acknowledged your presence with an ovation and applause. You surely deserved that response. Ah, your favorite chair-that rocker. You had used that rocker before-it was comfortable. Mr. Ford brought that to the box specifically for you. Mary was at your side to your right. She was excited. Major Rathbone and Miss Harris had accompanied you both to the theater. You had expected General and Mrs. Grant to be your guests but the General had begged leave earlier in the day. Oh well, you were there and the play ‘Our American Cousin’ was already in progress-as you were late to the performance. There were those last minute calls on you that delayed your arrival. You were quite used to such occurrences.

At about 10:15pm you had been there in the theater an hour an a half or so. You were enjoying the evening. You and Mary were holding hands. She almost felt embarrassed by that gesture. You had said a few words to her. Something caught your attention down on the lower floor-was it General Burnside-who was taking a seat? Was he the last image you saw? Then the crowd roared with laughter. It was that funny line in the play. You probably laughed too. Your head was still turned leftward and down towards the main floor…

President Lincoln was shot at approximately 10:15pm on April 14, 1865 at Ford’s Theater in Washington City. He died the following morning at 7:22am.

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