We grew up listening to stories about President Lincoln. My father’s uncle, or Tio Joaquin, loved to talk about the 16th president. He’d impress my brother and I by reciting The Gettysburg Address in English.
Tio Joaquin never left Cuba and died in the 1980’s. I will always remember him for all of those Lincoln stories that he used to tell us.
One of those stories was the assasination of President Lincoln on this day in 1865.
On Friday, April 14, 1865, President and Mrs. Lincoln, accompanied by Clara Harris and Major Henry R. Rathbone, entered Ford’s Theatre for the performance of “Our American Cousin” featuring Laura Keene. It was a popular comedy of its time. By all accounts, the President was in good spirits and ready for a night of relaxation.
Otto Eisenschiml wrote that the shots were fired at around 10:15 pm. (In the Shadow of Lincoln’s Death (New York: Funk, 1940),
Shortly after, the wounded President was moved across the street to the house of William Petersen at 453 10th St. NW. He was placed in a small room at the rear of hall on the first floor.
Mrs. Lincoln and the surgeons stayed with the President all night. VP Johnson dropped in for a visit around 2 am.
Dr. Charles S. Taft observed that the President stopped breathing “at 7:21 and 55 seconds in the morning of April 15th, and 7:22 and 10 seconds his pulse ceased to beat.” (Eisenschiml)
After some silence, Secretary .Stanton said: “Now he belongs to the ages“.