In the hustle and bustle of today, it is fitting to take a moment to recall one of the greatest men who ever served as President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. A moment of recollection and reflection is fitting today because it was on yesterday’s date, 14 April 1865 — Good Friday — that Lincoln was felled by an assassin’s bullet as he and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln watched the popular comedy Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
Moments after the shot rang out in the theater, John Wilkes Booth, a noted actor of the day, leapt from the President’s box onto the stage, shouting “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” (“Death to Tyrants”; the motto of Virginia.) Booth broke his leg in the fall, but managed to crawl off the stage and escape in the ensuing confusion.
Lincoln was taken from the theater to a house across the street to lie abed as his physicians debated what could or should be done. Before surgery could be attempted, Lincoln died in the early morning of April 15. Secretary of War Stanton observed: “Now he belongs to the Ages.”
In one brief note, I cannot hope to sum up Lincoln’s life and his utterly crucial importance to the nation we have today, but I can note that he is almost always ranked at the top of the list of most important Presidents. And it is worth noting that the tales we learned in Childhood about Lincoln’s great public character and deep personal honesty and intergrity are well upheld under close scrutiny of the existing facts.
The world would be a different place had Lincoln not been killed in that fine early April of 1865; the world would likely be a worse place had he never lived.
Flower Mound, Texas
I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. — Abraham Lincoln, 1864