On April 14, 1865, just weeks after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, America was thrown into turmoil. That night, while watching a play at Ford’s Theater, Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a Southern sympathizer. Lincoln died the next morning at 7:22 a.m.
Mrs. Henry Adams was visiting Washington, D.C. in May of 1865, for the triumphant march of the Union Army, called the Grand Review. After the first day’s parade, she went to see the place Lincoln had died.
She wrote, “About seven p.m. Annette Rogers and I went off to see Ford’s Theatre. It is closed, but we went round to the back—saw the stable where Booth’s horse was kept, and the back door by which he escaped—found a coloured woman who saw him lead his horse up to the theatre door (she lives in the alley, and said she went to the door, hearing a noise—saw, as he stood in the lighted doorway, that it was “Mr. Booth,” as she called him. About an hour after, she heard a noise as of a rushing horse—ran to the door, but the horse and rider were out of sight).
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She had been one of the witnesses, as she heard Booth call “Ned” three or four times to a man in the theatre to come and hold his horse. From that we went to the house, where the President was carried and where he died. The room is a small one in an ell on the ground floor; the pillow is soaked with blood, and the pillow case; it is left just as it was on that night—a painful sight, and yet we wanted to see it, as it is an historical fact and it makes it so vivid to be in the place where such a tragedy has been enacted.”