Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Day 92/365

April 14 is proving to be one of those historical "vortex" dates. Years before the Titanic's tragic sinking, the first assassination of an American president occurred on April 14, 1865.

The photo above displays Abraham Lincoln's formal stove-pipe top hat, his theater gloves, and his brasshead walking cane, all of which he carried with him to the evening performance of "My American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre, although, as usual, he stuffed the gloves into a coat pocket.

One can imagine Mary Todd Lincoln reminding her husband to take his gloves as they left the White House, and him absentmindedly grabbing them to make her happy.

Interesting corners filled with trivia about Mr. Lincoln have filled hundreds of books, more than any other president.

Among those tidbits:
  • Lincoln was never associated with any organized church, and he had a reputation as an outspoken nonbeliever. The only public comment he ever made concerning his religious beliefs stated that "That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general or of any denomination of Christians in particular. "
  • Lincoln once accepted a challenge to a duel from James Shields, the Democratic State auditor. Since he was given the choice of weapons, Lincoln selected broadswords--with his 6'4" frame and his enormous arms, Lincoln had an insurmountable advantage over his opponent. Shields decided to negotiate verbally with Lincoln instead and the duel never took place.
  • Lincoln was publicly in favor of extending the vote to women as early as 1836.
  • In 1858, Lincoln was so concerned that the text of his "House divided" speech be reported accurately, that after he had given a copy of the address to reporters, he insisted on going to the newspaper office himself and doublechecking their article. (Can you just imagine this now?)
  • Before his first election to the Presidency, Lincoln reported that he was startled by a vision. He caught a glimpse of his face in a mirror saw a double image of himself. The second image in the mirror was pale, "like a dead man." After a few days, when the same pair of images reappeared, he discussed the vision with his wife. Mary Todd Lincoln interpreted it to mean that Lincoln would be elected to two terms as President, but that he would die during his 2nd term.
And finally:
On the day of his assassination, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was so troubled by a dream that he actually discussed it at his Cabinet meeting. He told his colleagues that he had seen himself sailing "in an indescribable vessel and moving rapidly toward an indistinct shore." Even more explicit was a dream that he discussed just a week before he was shot. In this dream, Lincoln awoke, and walked through the silent White House, following the sound of sobbing. When he came to the East Room, he saw a catafalque draped in black. "Who is dead?" Lincoln asked. A military guard replied that it was the President.

1 comment:

  1. I love history and really enjoy these facts. Thanks for sharing.