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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Primary Analysis: The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln: "Civil War Harper's Weekly, April 29, 1865
The April 29, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly is a first edition description of the Assassination and Death of President Abraham Lincoln. We present below, for your research and perusal, the entire newspaper. Click on the thumbnails provided to be taken to the full, readable, rendition of that page."

Thoughts to consider:

Lincoln and JFK are often compared. The coincidences between them both are both uncanny and also flukish. Speak to your parents or grandparents, see if they remember when JFK was assassinated. Lincoln and JFK were charismatic leaders that weren't necessarily popular with the entire population, but certainly sought to enact a great deal of change. What kind of turmoil might a similar situation bring to the nation in the future? How might it have been worse considering the timing of Lincoln's assassination?

Finally, consider the words of Booth after shooting Lincoln, and their meaning: Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants." It is sometimes mistranslated as "death to tyrants" or "down with the tyrant." While the phrase is attributed to Marcus Junius Brutus, the most famous figure in the assassination of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BC, it is more probably a later dramatic invention, as Roman historians of the period did not record it. In American history, John Wilkes Booth shouted the phrase after shooting President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, in part because of the association with the assassination of Caesar. Timothy McVeigh was wearing a T-shirt with this phrase and a picture of Lincoln on it when he was arrested on April 19, 1995, the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. The phrase was recommended by George Mason to the Virginia Convention in 1776, as part of the state's seal. The Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia shows Virtue, spear in hand, with her foot on the prostrate form of Tyranny, whose crown lies nearby. The Seal was planned by Mason and designed by George Wythe, who signed the United States Declaration of Independence and taught law to Thomas Jefferson.

23 comments:

jessalves10 said...

It's interesting that the majority of the population and the newspapers are all saying what a tradgedy it was that Lincoln was killed. Im not disagreeing with them, I think it was horrible, but before his assassination and during the war with the south, people acted as though they hated him. In the book it even says that some group, possibly his own party, wanted to empeach him. Just like most other presidents, the peopl never realize what a great president he was and how much he had on his plate. People always want results fast and when leaders can't do it fast enough, theres always a cry for impeachment.
I'm glad that the people realized how awesome Lincoln was though. It really shows how fast they realized how important Lincoln was and how they wouldn;t forget it too soon. After four years, the newspapers were still playing on the sadness of this event.

Mike said...

I agree with Jess that after Lincoln had died, after being ridiculed all throughout the Civil War and his presidency, it was a bit odd for the citizens both North and South to start finally accepting him of his works. That reminds me of Moby Dick. Nobody liked his work until after he died. I guess this could be the same concept. What I never understood was, how the president, going to this public showing, was unprotected enough to have Booth be able to shoot him. As for the phrase Booth had said after he shot Lincoln, it shows what Booth truly thought of Lincoln. That Lincoln, was in fact a tyrant who did things his own way, never once considering the people, which is untrue to say the least. He did what was right for the country at the time and what would make the country stronger. I had did a report on the Oklahoma City Bombing 2 years ago I think, and I never recalled reading about Timothy McVeigh wearing that shirt. But that just shows that the same concepts from the past still hold true to today. -Mike E.

C.Slotter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.Slotter said...

It was nice for the newspaper to report American's sympathy towards Lincoln's death. It shows how the nation was finally coming together. However, I agree with Jess when she says that people didn't realize what a great President Lincoln was until after he died. It seems as if all of his previous criticisms went away after he was assassinated, and that everyone suddenly began to like him.
I think it was interesting how much detail the news reporter put into Lincoln's assassination (he even mentioned Booth's positions). It's also interesting how many theories there were regarding Lincoln's assassination (such as that Booth intended to murder Grant, too).
The fact that the Caesar-Brutus assassination has been brought up repeatedly in history is intriguing. This exemplifies how history repeats itself and how themes from the past can reoccur.

Yazan said...

yeah i agree with jess (hasn't everyone above this comment done so as well?). it is ironic. but i found the part were they arrested the guy for the shirt was (i think) illegal. was the arrest based on the shirt and co-incidentally happened on the same day as the bombing or was the guy somehow part of something bigger? and the article doesn't say, is the quote on the seal? it just says that some dude recommended it.

Diana said...

Along with Jess, I agree that it was interesting how so many people had sympathy for Lincoln only after he was dead. Although it is great that these people finally realize what a great president Lincoln was, they should have praised him for what he has done in the Civil War when he was alive. Instead of disagreeing and being negative to him when he was doing the best he could to control and maintain the war, these people should have given more respect to Lincoln, not only after this death. I thought it was interesting that this article included more information on John Wilkes Booth and how he “had frequently threatened to kill President Lincoln.” If it was thought that Booth threatened to kill Lincoln many times before, why did no one realize this was going to happen and end Booth’s chance of assassinating Lincoln.

jennaaxrae18 said...

The way some people in the south began to accept Lincoln after he'd been killed strangely reminds me of Michael Jackson's death in some ways, to be honest. A lot of people didn't like him when he was alive, but after he died it was all cries and "Long live the king of pop!" Okay, that was my connection for the day.

I find it interesting that the assassination of people with high power over time can be cyclical. I agree with Diana when she says, "If it was thought that Booth threatened to kill Lincoln many times before, why did no one realize this was going to happen and end Booth’s chance of assassinating Lincoln?" If they had been aware of chances of Lincoln being murdered, why did they just let it happen? In a more broad sense, I like the way the article was written. It was very detailed and easy to understand.
-Jenna Ryan

BigBri said...

I feel as if all the people that didn't like Lincoln during his lifetime were phonies (Holden's word). They did not like him during his lifetime, but when he died, many people that did not care for him still mourned over his death. My interpretation of these acts are that they mourned, only to make the government think that they were with the Union when they really thought otherwise.
Throughout Lincoln's presidency, I feel he is one of the key factors to the evolution of the U.S. He was a great representation of what the U.S. is all about, freedom, justice, and liberty.

cvalenti2 said...

It is true. There are a lot of coincidences between JFK and Lincoln. I can't decide if they are just connections or something more because they are so inexplicable and uncanny. The fact that the two assassnations share so many similarities is almost scary at the thought of how alike they are.
The turmoil of an influential icon or leader dying in the furture, I imagine, would be similar to the country's reaction to Lincoln's murder. I agree with Jenna that it will be much like the reactions given at M.J.'s death.
Mass devistation, regardless of the person's qualities, would plague the United States, but we would gather and move on as the U.S. did in the late 19th century at Lincoln's death.
When I think about a similar situation happening in the future and how it would affect the nation and world, I primarily connect back to Lady Diana. Though, her death occured nearly a decade ago and in England (and not by assassination), I think our nation will react to future deaths of major leaders like the world did at the death of Diana. I think we shall disregard that person's mishaps and admire what they did to help the world- like how at Lincoln's death we praised him for reuniting America.
However, Lincoln's assassination may have been worse when compared to others. This is due to its timing. He was killed but only 5 (I think) days after the civil war ended and the country needed leadership to strengthen its bond with the South and rebuild to its great state. But the assassination of Lincoln, timing wise, was not the best because he was needed to shift America through the aftermath of the war. No matter what the country needed Lincoln for, he could do nothing to help because John Wilkes Booth ended his life when it seemed like America finally realized his positive influence on America.
At the end of the front bottom page of the paper, how did no one notice the large hole Booth made to peer at the president?
With the words that Booth spoke after assassinating Lincoln, I believe his motive for murder was not so much for his pro-Southern cause, but to get his name in the history books- clearly his acting was not good enough to do so. Maybe he wouldn't have murdered Lincoln if he was one of the actors in the play Lincoln was going to see :). I'm babbling now so I end here....bye.

michellepleban said...

I agree with everyone that it is ironic how Licoln was hated on by people but then after his death they sympathized for him. But I don't think the article was just to inform the public about the death of Lincoln. I think they tried to add a dramatic effect to it to make it more interesting. I thought it was weird how the article is about Lincoln but on the front page it shows a huge picture of Booth. But I do see this incidents relationship to the one with Julius Caesar and Caitlin makes a really good point about how history repeats itself.

Krista said...

What surprised me that most was the security surrounding Lincoln or should I say the lack there of. I know it was different times back then , but isn't in common sense to have someone protecting the president if you know a lot of people dislike him and you just finished fighting a civil war? Someone who saw Booth said, when Booth reached the door of the corridor leading from the dress-circle to the boxes he halted, " took off his hat, and, holding it in his left hand, leaned against the wall behind him." After remaining thus for the space of half a minute, " The pause, though only slight, made me think that Booth was having second thoughts about the assassination, but after he did it he seemed to have no regrets. I also looked further into the whole Lincoln JFK thing because I remember hearing about their similarities a while ago and I came across this, http://www.school-for-champions.com/history/lincolnjfk.htm . It shows some pretty weird coincidences; even though all stated may not be true it is still a lot. The one I found most interesting was Lincoln was shot in the Ford Theatre while Kennedy was shot in a Lincoln, made by Ford.

cvalenti2 said...

I agree with Krista that the lack of security over Lincoln is surprising. However, our protection of the president that we have as extreme as it is today has probably been developed over time as a result of assassinations and incidents like that of Lincoln's murder.
I like the web site Krista posted. I wonder if Lee Harvey Oswald planned for all of those similarities if JFK and Lincoln's assassination occurred around the same period of time a century later. It does seem alittle too indiscreet and over-coincidental for Oswald not to notice atleast a few of the connections between his plotted murder of JFK when compared to Lincoln. (example- both presidents dying on a Friday by a bullet in the head).

Jeanette said...

I think it would be very rare for something like this to happen in the future, since the U.S. really focuses on security wherever the president is ever since these past presidential tragedies and 9/11. Therefore, if something similar were to happen, it would be surreal/shocking for the public, and the news would be filled with the story for months on end like MJ’s, like what Jenna said. I can only imagine what kind of awkward position the White House would be in for letting something like that happen again. In agreement with Sarah, the timing of Lincoln’s assassination was worse because “the country needed leadership to strengthen its bond with the South and rebuild to its great state”. As if the country needed more turmoil and tension.
I think Booth’s post-assassination words, translated to “thus always to tyrants”, means something along the lines of “this is what will happen to tyrants”.

matthew said...

Everyone is saying how it is surprising to them that even the Southerners felt bad for Lincoln's death, but I do not find it surprising. The Southereners did not thank John Wilks Booth for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln because they felt that they would be treated even worse now. The Northerners probably felt that most of the South, were like John Wilks Booth.
"Sic semper tyrannis", as for this phrase shouted by Booth after killing Lincoln, I think he is saying this is what becomes of dictators. He is compared Lincoln to a dictator, who conquered the Confederacy and freed the slaves, because it's what he believes in. This is a similar reason for the assassination of Julius Caesar.

Ross said...

I would just like to start off by saying that Lincoln, along with JFK, one of my favorite presidents. It was the fact that they stood for change and revolution that makes them stand apart from all the others, so much so that it was felt needed by some people to actually end their life. I also believe that it is very possible to assassinate a president in the modern era. I remember when Obama was originally inaugurated that there were rumors and whispers that there would be attempts on his life. It would, of course, be much more difficult to perform the assassination because of heightened technology and security. For example, John Wilkes Booth simply walked behind the president and killed him. You would think the president of the United States would have better protection than that. I also think that the phrase uttered by Booth has a very interesting meaning as well. Booth obviously said this after assassinating Lincoln because he believed him to be similar to Ceasar, because he thought Lincoln had taken over an open government and twisted it to his liking, as Julius had done to the Republic in Rome. The State of Virginia obviously meant it in different terms. I believe they were saying that, as a proponent of states rights they, as a state, would not let their nation or their state fall under the rule of a tyrant.

Sukhmeet said...

I found it ironic how people started in the south showed so much hatred for Lincoln, but soon after his assassination was reported people started to sympathize about him. I found it weird that Booth's picture shows up on te front page and then shows Lincolns picture. I agree with Ross that even today, our president could be assassinated. People still don't agree with a lot of the decisions Obama has made within his presidency so far and show a lot of hatred towards him. But with an increase in security and technology it males it hard for an incidence like an assassination to happen.

mike51095 said...

I think Ross makes a good point when he said that you would think that Abraham Lincoln, the president, should have better protection. It is strange how John Wilkes Booth was just able to get onto Abraham Lincoln's balcony without any resistance. Although I do not agree with John Wilkes Booth's method I can somewhat understand why he would want to assassinate Lincoln. In the perspective of a southerner, or someone who does most of their acting in the south like Booth, you would look at Lincoln as a tyrant or dictator because he changed the way of life in your homeland. I think the phrase "Sic semper tyrannis" means that all leaders who abuse their power deserve death. This is probably the reason that Booth saw it fit to assassinate Lincoln, because he believed Lincoln abused his power by abolishing slavery. -Mike Signore

pat said...

I saw the similarities between JFK's death and Lincoln's. They had uncanny resemblances. I don't know if it has anything to do with fate/destiny or if that's just the way the cookie crumbles, but just the same i found it interesting. However, unlike Lincoln, JFK was loved by all people before his untimely death not only afterwards. Yes, it made people remember him as an even greater president as it did to Lincoln, but Lincoln's accomplishments were only seen after his death. I felt like the newspapers, as all media does, dramatized the assassination of Lincoln. Of course it was a terrible tragedy but they seemed a little hypocritical. Now they're going to realize what a brilliant president Lincoln was? It's a little late but I guess it works.

pat said...

ahhh sorry i thought this signed off of pat's e-mail but i guess not

Becky said...

I agree with Ross that if someone felt the need to assassinate JFK and Lincoln these men they must have stood up for what they believe in despite advirsity. Even attempting a change is great. I feel as though when the President is assassinated the whole country feels uneasy no matter how they felt about him because the mortality of even the strongest most prominent figure in the country is shown. This is scary. It would be even worse in the case of Lincolnbecause the future of the slaves and the whole county was up in the air. All of the progress could have been undone. There is no way this could happen today. If you've ever watched Vantage Point, a sick Denis Quaid movie, it shows that even if you think you shot the president probably not(all movies ae realistic obvi).
Specifically redgarding Lincold though the change of heart people continue to reference how they all of a sudden sympathized with him is expected because people feel bad about hating someone who is no longer with us. It doesn't mae hima ny less of a great man, it just took him no longer being there for people to realized.

P.S April 29 is my birthday. mark it on your calendars. presents are appreciated, but not necessary

smurftastic44 said...

It seems like I'll be the one cutting it close this time!
I agree with everyone, the fact that people thought highly of Lincoln after his assassination was very similar to the reaction to MJ's death, even if it was not important to the political stability of the country.
And Jeanette, you're right, that is what John Wilkes Booth meant. Since Lincoln is my favorite president (other than Grover! :D) it used to be hard for me to understand why Booth thought Lincoln was a tyrant. But with the combination of my trip to Washington, D.C. and the knowledge I've gained from this class, I can see both sides of the argument. There's Ross's side, and then there's my side! Oh, I kid. Ross isn't a Southern Sympathizer. But joking aside, Southern sympathizers believed in states' rights, like Ross but to the very extreme extent. (During class it seems like Ross is a bit extreme but I honestly don't think he is and you have to admit he has a good point.) So the fact that during the Civil War Lincoln took away some rights such as habeus corpus was appalling and this made him a tyrant in their eyes.
All my life I've been surrounded by the story of Lincoln's assassination, because one of my ancestor's worked at Ford's Theater (sorry I keep bringing this up, Jeanette, but this time I'm really going somewhere with it!). No matter how much I heard it, it was still hard for me to visualize the scene and what really went on that night. This summer I took a trip to Washington, D.C. and of course I visited Ford's Theater as well as the actual place just across the road where Lincoln died. I was expecting Ford's Theater to be some grand stadium of sorts, but really it was about half the size of our auditorium, not including the balconies. This of course came as a shock to me, but the thing that really took me by surprise was the way the presidential box was decorated. They had a picture of Lincoln in front and flags arranged around the outside of the box, perfectly preserved nearly the same as it was on that fateful night. It made me wonder just how many people didn't like him. The fact that they were so excited about his appearance at the theater and the nation's devastation after his death showed that, like Yazan said, some people who did not maintain their ideas about Lincoln after his death were indeed 'phonies.' However, some people may have just opened their eyes to what a great president he truly was, just like the people in the South who were upset about the ordeal. They finally realized how good he really was to them. He could have been a true tyrant and taken away their rights as a punishment, just like the King of England attempted to do when rebellion began in the New World before the Revolutionary War.
I find the similarities between Lincoln and JFK very fascinating. I'm a strong believer in fate and whatnot, but the similarities are almost too strong, like what Sarah was saying. And at this point in the night, I find myself almost baffled by it.
I really hope this wasn't just me rambling on about Ford's Theater and whatnot. It's been a rough day.

mrowl12345 said...

Sorry im alittle late on this, but at least im doing it or whatever.
So i was actually talking to my mom the other day about how we learned of the Abe Lincln assassination in school. I was telling her how tramatic it would have been to see that in the theater and how horrible it would be to hear of it through the news like Harpers Daily. It was said in the film we watched in school the everybody remebers exactly where they were and exactly what they were doing. My mom told me thats exactly the way it was when she heard JFK died (She was only a small child) and i just think it is a convinient quincidence that it was a blog topic. I think people of our age group can remeber something like this happening like when Michael Jackson died, i remeber exactly where i was and what i was doing when i heard the news.
But anyways back to the thingy, the words of Booth after he killed lincoln. That must have been scary to experience. To hear a gunshot, then have the killer jump onto the stage in front of you with a gun and knife. But the words he shouted. We heard in class that he could have said two things, the south is avenged, which is pretty self explanitory, or Sic semper tyrannis, which could have a number of meanings. I thought it interesting that those were also the words of Brutus after he killed Ceasar. That phrase has become almost symbolic of an assassination, or killing. Also the word tyrant. Tyrant is a term passed along often to describe political leaders that arnt nessicarilly popular, and the fact that Booth used it is just interesting to me.

Brandt Schneider said...

Check out the book Manhunt. The scene when Booth is trying to cross the river is very, very funny.