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The Library of Virginia does have the Saturday, April 15, 1865 issue of The Richmond Whig, but the paper made no mention of the assassination attempt from the previous night. In the April 15 issue, the first item on page one is an account of a speech given by President Lincoln on April 11 from a window at the White House on the subject of Reconstruction. Here is one interesting bit from the President’s speech, “The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, energy and daring to the same end. Granting that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. [Laughter.]”

Richmond has a long history of Whig newspapers, but similarly to The Richmond Times mentioned in the previous post, this edition of The Richmond Whig was a new newspaper, starting up in the days following the conclusion of the war.

Lester J. Cappon wrote about The Richmond Whig in his book Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935: “Publication suspended M[arch] 31, 1865, because of war conditions and ‘resumed this afternoon Ap[ril] 4–new ser., v.1, no. 1] with the consent of the military authorities. The editor, and all who heretofore controlled its columns, have taken their departure. The proprietor [William Ira Smith, April 4 – June 22, 1865] . . . has had a conference with Gen. Shepley, the Military Governor. . . . The Whig will therefore be issued hereafter as a Union paper,’ (cf. issue of Ap 4) the first to resume publication after the fall of Richmond.” [p. 192]

The Monday edition of The Richmond Whig contained only one brief editorial related to the assassination, transcribed below.

From The Richmond Whig dated April 17, 1865, Volume 1, Number 12.

From Page 2:

Assassination of President Lincoln!

The heaviest blow which has ever fallen upon the people of the South has descended. Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, has been assassinated! The decease of the Chief Magistrate of the nation, at any period, is an event which profoundly affects the public mind, but the time, manner, and circumstances of President Lincoln’s death render it the most momentous, the most appalling, the most deplorable calamity which has ever befallen the people of the United States.

The thoughtless and vicious may affect to derive satisfaction from the sudden and tragic close of the President’s career, but every reflecting person will deplore the awful event. Just as everything was happily conspiring to a restoration of tranquility, under the benignant and magnanimous policy of Mr. Lincoln, comes this terrible blow. God grant that it may not rekindle excitement or inflame passion again.

That a state of war, almost fratricidal, should give rise to bitter feelings and bloody deeds in the field was to be expected, but that the assassin’s knife and bullet should follow the great and best loved of the nation in their daily walks and reach them when surrounded by their friends, is an atrocity which will shock and appalls every honorable man and woman in the land.

The secrecy with which the assassin or assassins pursued their victims indicates that there were but few accomplices in the inhuman crime. The abhorrence with which it is regarded on on all sides, will, it is hoped, deter insane and malignant men from the emulation of the infamy which attaches to this infernal deed.

We cannot pursue the subject further. We contemplate too deeply and painfully the terrible aspects of this calamity to comment upon it further.

The acts, as we have officially ascertained them, are subjoined: The President visited Ford’s Theatre Friday night, and about thirty minutes past ten o’clock, whilst leaving the Theatre, was wounded in the head by a pistol shot fired by John Wilkes Booth. He dided at twenty-two minutes past seven yesterday morning.

Mr. Seward was also wounded in his own house. He is in a fair way to recover.

The people of Petersburg had this afflicting news yesterday before it was made public here. Judge W.T. Joynes, Roger A. Pryor, John Lyon, and other prominent citizens, united in a call for a public meeting to express, if words could do so, their grief for so sad an event, their abhorrence of the deed, and their sympathy for the bereaved. We know that the citizens of Richmond will take similar action.”

The newspaper the following day had a lengthy description of the assassination and events afterwards.

From The Richmond Whig dated April 18, 1865, Volume 1, Number 13.

From Page 1:


WASHINGTON, April 15 — 1:30 A.M.

Major General Dix, New York:

Last evening, at 10:30 P.M., at Ford’s Theatre, the President, while sitting in his private box with Mr. Lincoln, Miss Harris, and Major Rathburn, was shot by an assassin who suddenly entered the box. He approached behind the President. The assassin then leaped upon the stage, brandishing a large dagger or knife, and made his escape by the rear of the theatre. The pistol ball entered the back of the President’s head. The wound is mortal. The President has been insensible ever since it was inflicted, and is now dying.

About the same hour an assassin, either the same or another, entered Mr. Seward’s house, and under pretence of having a prescription, was shown to the Secretary’s sick chamber. The Secretary was in bed, inflicted two or three stabs on the throat, and two on the face. It is hoped the woulds may not be mortal. My apprehension is that they will prove fatal. The nurse alarmed Mr. Frederick Seward, who was in an adjoining room, and hastened to the door of his father’s room, where he met the assassin, who inflicted upon him one or more dangerous wounds. The recovery of Frederick Seward is doubtful.

It is not probable that the President will live through the night.

General Grant and wife were advertised to be at the theatre this evening, but the latter started to Burlington at six o’clock last evening.

At a Cabinet meeting at which General Grant was present to-day, the subject of the state of the country, and the prospects of speedy peace was discussed. The President was very cheerful and hopeful, spoke very kindly of General Lee and others of the Confederacy, and the establishment of Government in Virginia. All the members of the Cabinet, except Mr. Seward, are now in attendance upon the President. I have seen Mr. Seward, but he and Frederick were both unconscious.

Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War.

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Washington, D.C., 3 A.M., April 15

Maj. Gen. Dix, New York:

The President still breathes, but is quite insensible, as he has been ever since he was shot. He evidently did not see the person who shot him, but was looking on the stage, as he was approached behind.

Mr. Seward has rallied, and it is hoped he may live. Frederick Seward’s condition is very critical. The attendant who was present was stabbed through the lungs, and is not expected to live. –The wounds of Major Seward are not serious.

Investigation strongly indicates J. Wilkes Booth as the assassin of the President. Whether it was the same, or a different person that attempted to murder Mr. Seward, remains in doubt.

Chief Justice Cartter is engaged in taking the evidence. Every exertion has been made to prevent the escape of the murderer. His horse has been found on the road near Washington.

Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War.

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Washington, D.C., April 15, 4:10 A.M.

Maj. Gen. Dix, New York:

The President continues insensible, and is sinking. Secretary Seward remains without change. Frederick Seward’s skull is fractured in two places, besides a severe cut upon the head. The attendant is still alive, but hopeless.

Major Seward’s wounds are not dangerous. It is now ascertained with reasonable certainty that two assassins were engaged in the horrible crime– Wilkes Booth being the one that shot the President; the other, a companion of his, whose name is not known, but whose description is so clear that he can hardly escape.

It appears, from a letter found in Booth’s trunk, that the murder was planned before the fourth of March, but fell through then because the accomplice backed out until Richmond could be heard from. Booth and his accomplice were at the livery stable at six o’clock last evening, and left there with their horses about ten o’clock, or shortly before that hour.

It would seem that they had for several days been seeking their chance, but for some unknown reason it was not carried into effect until last night. One of them has evidently made his way to Baltimore, the other has not yet been traced.

Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War.

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$10,000 REWARD
April 15, 1865.

A REWARD OF TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS will be paid to the party or parties arresting the murderer of the President, Mr. Lincoln, and the assassin of the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, and his son.

Major General — Commanding Department.

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[From the Washington Chronicle, Saturday.]


At half-past ten o’clock last night, in the front upper left-hand private box in Ford’s Theatre, while the second scene of the third act of “Our American Cousin” was being played, a pistol was fired, and Abraham Lincoln shot through the neck and lower part of the head. Asecond after the shot was fired a man vaulted over the baluster of the box saying, “Sic semper tyrannis!” and adding another sentence, which closed with the words, “revenge for the South,” ran across the stage with a gleaming knife, double-edged and straight, in his right hand. The man was of middle stature, well-built, white faced and beardless, save that he wore a black moustache. His hair and eyes were black.

The crowd ascended the stage, the actresses, pale beneath their rouge, ran wildly about. Miss Keene, whose benefit night it was, came forward, endeavoring to quiet the audience. Several gentlemen climbed to the box, and finally the audience were ordered out by some gentlemen.

Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris and Major Rathburn were in the box with the President.


The report of an assassination attempted upon Secretary Seward having reached this office, we set out for the Secretary’s house, and there found that he, too, had been assaulted. We learned also that at ten o’clock, just as the man in charge of Lajayette Square called out that the gates were closed, a man mad his way into Secretary Seward’s house, representing that he was the bearer of a medicine prescribed by Surgeon General Barnes, and which he was ordered to deliver to Secretary Seward in person.

Pushing into the Secretary’s room, he seized the old suffering statesman with one hand, and cut him with a dagger-knife on both jaws, then turned and forced his way into the hall, where, meeting with Frederick Seward, the Secretary’s son, he attacked him and inflicted three wounds with a dagger-knife (probably the same) on the young man’s head, breast and hand. He also attacked Major Clarence Seward, another son of the Secretary of State, and inflicted upon him several serious wounds.

The assassin then rushed out, mounted a bay horse, with light mane, and rode off, not at a gallop, but at what is called a “pace.”

Doctors Barnes, Norris, and Nutson were soon in attendance, and did all in their power for the sufferers.

Secretary Seward was able to speak and swallow, but both caused him much pain, though none of the arteries of the throat were cut. The doctors all agreed that the Secretary was in no immediate danger of losing his life.

Secretaries Stanton and Welles, as soon as they learned the solemn news, repaired to the residence of Mr. Seward, and also to the bedside of the President.

This being all we could there ascertain, we went in search of the Vice-President, and found he was safe in his apartments at Kirkwood. We called at Chief Justice Chase’s, and learned there that he too was safe–Secretaries Stanton, Welles, and Usher, as also Vice-President Johnson, and the other members of the Cabinet, were with the President.

Guards were found by us at the residences of Chief Justice Chase, Secretary Usher, Vice-President Johnson, and Secretary Stanton, and we are gratified to able to announce that ll the members of the Cabinet, save Mr. Seward, are unharmed.


We then ascertained that the police were on the track of the President’s assassin, and found that a variety of evidences, all pointing one way, would in all probability justify the arrest of a character well known throughout the cities of the United States. Evidence taken amid such excitement would, perhaps, not justify us in naming the suspected man, nor could it aid in his apprehension. A number of persons have been arrested who, it is hoped, will be able to identify him. The assassin left behind him his hat, a spur, and a horror and gloom never equaled in this country.

The hat was picked up in the President’s box; and since we began this statement, has been identified by parties to whom it has been shown, and accurately described as the one belonging to the suspected man, by other parties not allowed to see it ere describing it.

The spur was dropped upon the stage, and that also has been identified as the one procured at a stable where the same man procured a horse in the evening. The horse so obtained was a dark bay, which was also the color of the that mounted at the stage door of the theatre by the flying assassin. The horse, up to the hour of 2 A.M., had not been returned to the stable; has been seen riderless, with English saddle and plain stirrups, roaming the streets, but escaped from pursuit.


At 2:15 A.M. we hear that the wound of the President is very highly dangerous. The ball entered three inches below the left ear, and behind it a little, just beneath the base of the brain, took an upward direction, lodging in the brain, where it can be felt by the surgeons, but when they cannot dislodge it.


Two gentlemen who went to apprise the Secretary of War of the Attack on Mr. Lincoln, met, at the residence of the former, a man muffled in a cloak, who when accosted by them, hastened away without a word. It had been the Secretary’s intention to accompany Mr. Lincoln and occupy the same box, but press of business prevented.

It therefore, is evident that the aim of the plotter was to paralyze the country by at once striking down the head, the heart, and the arm of the country.

Gen. Grant arrived safely at Philadelphia.


The whole city was moved. The crowds that poured through the streets gathered in numbers on the corners adjacent to the residences of the various members of the Cabinet; but the greatest and most excited gatherings were on E and Tenth streets, in the vicinity of Mr. Peterson’s house, opposite Ford’s Theatre, to which the President was removed. Mr. Lincoln was attended by Surgeons Hall, Stone, Ford, May, Leiberman, King, Surgeon General Barnes, Drs. Crane, Taft, Leale, Getz, McMillan, Abbott and Buckler.


Comment on this deed now were worse than useless, were it even possible to us with our present feelings. — The perpetrators of the deed, stand (we hope we are not profane) like Judas Iscariot–in this: that they have stricken down the man who stood forth their best intercessor before the nation and the laws they had raised their impious hands to slay by unprovoked rebellion.– Their only shield, their truest, most forgiving friend, he who plead with his people to temper justice with mercy– him have they slain. And who can now tell the consequences?


No sooner had the dreadful event been announced in the street, than Superintendent Richards and his assistants were at work to discover the assassins. In a few moments the telegraph had aroused the whole police force of the city. Mayor Wallach, and several member of the city government, were soon on the spot. Every measure of precaution was taken to preserve order in the city and every street ws patrolled. At the request of Mr. Richards, General Augur sent horses to mount the police. Every road out of Washington was picketed, and every possible avenue of escape thoroughly guarded. Steam boats about to depart down the Potomac were stopped.

As it is suspected that this conspiracy originated in Maryland, the telegraph flashed the mournful news to Baltimore, and all the cavalry was immediately put upon active duty. Every road was picketed, and every precaution taken to prevent the escape of the assassins.

A preliminary examination was made by Mr. Richards and his assistants. Several persons were called upon to testify, and the evidence, as elicited before an informal tribunal, and not under oath, was conclusive to this point: the murderer of President Lincoln was John Wilkes Booth. His hat was found in the private box, and identified by several persons who seen him within the last two days and the spur which he dropped by accident, after he jumped to the stage, was identified as one of those which he obtained from the stable where he hired his horse.

This man Booth has played more than once at Ford’s Theatre, and is of course, acquainted with its exits and entrances, and the facility with which he escaped behind the scenes is easily understood. He is a son of Junius Brutus Booth, the renowned actor, and has, like one of his brothers, in vain attempted to gain a reputation on the stage. His father was an Englishman, and he was born in Baltimore. He has long been a man of intemperate habits and subject to temporary fits of great excitement. His capture is certain, but if he is true to his nature he will commit suicide, and thus appropriately end his career.


As everything that tends to throw light upon this matter is of interest, we think it well to add, that last evening a dark roan horse was hired at Thompson’s stable, on the corner of E and Thirteenth streets, at about ten minutes after ten o’clock. The horse had a black English saddle and ordinary stirrups. The man who hired him was dressed in black, and was some five feet six inches in height. When asked when he would return, he said, “Probably in two hours–perhaps never.” He wore a black moustache and goatee. One of the stable boys followed him, bu lost sight of him on Tenth street.

After hearing of the assassinations the same stable boy rushed to the Navy-yard thinking to head the man and horse off, should he prove the criminal, but learned that the man and horse he described had passed over the bridge some time before; and being told that if he followed he would not be allowed back over the bridge, he followed no further, but returned.

It will be seen, by referring to another column, that General C.C. Augur, Provost Marshall of the Department of Washington, offers a reward of ten thousand dollars to the party or parties who will arrest the person or persons who assassinated the President, Mr. Lincoln, the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, and his son.

The person who assassinated Secretary Seward left behind him a slouched hat and an old, rusty navy revolver. The chambers were broken loose from the barrel, as if done by striking. The loads were drawn from the chambers, one being but a rough piece fo lead, and the others balls smaller than the chambers–wrapped in paper, as if to keep them from falling out.

as will be seen by the despatches of Secretary Stanton, the life of the President is despaired of and the condition of Secretary Seward is regarded as hopeful, and that of Mr. Frederick Seward as doubtful.

The name of the suspected assassin will be found in the annexed report of the police investigations.

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[From the same–Second Edition.]


If tears had audible language, a shriek would go up from these States which would startle the world from its propriety.

Strong men use the impressive language of women–TEARS. Women bow their heads in the dust. Children sleep troubledly.

Word are at this time weak and vain. Let us all, with heart and voice say that


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[From the Chronicle-Editorial.]

It is with feeling of profound horror, sorrow, and indignation, that we are called upon to announce to the country on of the most terrible tragedies of which history affords an an example. At about half past 10 o’clock last evening President Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre, in Tenth street, between E and F, while quietly looking at the performance, all unconscious of danger! He occupied, company with Mrs. Lincoln, and her friend, Miss Harris, the private box in the second tier, on the right.

The location of the wound on the skull, which was inflicted by a pistol ball, shows clearly that the President sat at the moment with his face to the stage, and that he had no intimation of the approach of the monster traitor who has robbed the country of its most precious life. The ball entered about three inches from the opening of the left ear, in cerebrellum, or the lower half of the head, and penetrated several inches into the brain. The President immediately fell forward, and the villain at the same moment, leaped over the railing upon the stage. He fell to the floor but rose, ran to the rear of the stage and disappeared, brandishing a large knife, and exclaiming, “The South is avenged! Sic semper tyrannis!” The amazement and horror of the audience were so great as to destroy all presence of mind, and the wretch escaped for the time by the back door.

The President, in a completely unconscious condition, was after a few minutes removed to the opposite side of the street, and placed in the comfortable house of Mr. Peterson, No. 453. he occupies the neat little bed-room in the back building, first floor, where he must in a few hours breathe his last.

Every aid which surgical and medical skill could supply was immediately given, but to no purpose. It was our melancholy privilege to see the great and good heart of Abraham Lincoln slowly giving up its life-blood, his heart-broken wife kneeling by his bedside, which was surrounded by all the members of his Cabinet, except Mr. Seward, as well as by other distinguished friends. Among the latter were Senator Sumner, Speaker Colfax, General Augur, General Meigs, General Farnsworth, of the House of Representatives, and others.

Thus has the day which was set apart as a day of rejoicing been turned into a day of mourning by one of those astounding exhibitions of desperate wickedness of which history, at long intervals, has given examples. Language would fail us in the attempt to portray the mingled anguish, horror and indignation which pervades this community.

But we may say, in brief, at this late hour that treason has culminated in crime in the murder of Resident Lincoln, and that since the 14th day of April, 1861, when Fort Sumter was fired upon, nothing has occurred so calculated to exasperate the loyal millions, and cause them to demand vengeance upon the authors of the rebellion.

It is now 5 o’clock, as we write, and we find it indispensable to close these remarks with only a brief reference to the contemporaneous effort to murder Secretary Seward, and his son, F.W. Seward. It is not yet ascertained whether the murderous assault upon these gentlemen was made by the same desperate wretch who assassinated the President.– It is probable, however, that there were confederates, and that other distinguished gentlemen only escaped by accident.

A strong suspicion has fixed upon J. Wilkes Booth, an inferior actor, and the son of the old tragedian of that name, as the murderer of the President.

P.S. — A letter found in Booth’s trunk identifies him as the murderer.

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From Page 3:


THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN.—The verification of the rumor of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln fell like a thunder-clap upon this community yesterday, and the expression or regret and abhorrence of the act was almost universal among all classes, even those of the most ultra Southern feelings. Mr. Lincoln’s liberal offer to Virginia had prepared the minds of all for a speedy and happy settlement of the present difficulties, so far as Virginia was involved. The impression was immediate and profound, that Virginia had lost her best friend, and forebodings painful to dwell upon were indulged in as regards the grave turn national events might take in view of the striking down of the guiding hand of Government policy. All the flags in the city and the flags of shipping in the harbor were at half mast Sunday and yesterday in recognition of the great calamity that has fallen so suddenly and unexpectedly upon the people of the whole continent, North and South, the effect of which will be felt in two hemispheres.

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J. WILKES BOOTH, who, if reports be true, has inked his name with history, and made it infamous for all time by one of the most dastardly assassinations of the century, is the second son of Junius Brutus Booth, the great tragedian, and is between twenty-six and twenty-seven years of age. He was born and raised in Harford county, Md., where his father owned and cultivated a farm. In early life Wilkes showed little ambition for the stage, but, inspired by the success of his brother, Edwin Booth, he went upon the boards as a member of a stock company in Philadelphia, and about the year 1860 he was regarded as almost the rival of Edwin. Indeed his “Richard” was said to surpass that of Edwin, and approached nigher the rendition of Booth the elder than any other living actor. At the breaking out of war of 1861, Wilkes was attached to the troupe of Messrs. Kunkel & Moxley, then performing at the Marshall Theatre, Broad street, in this city, where he appeared under the name of J.B. Wilkes. He went North with most of the company, and has since risen to some distinction in the Northern cities as an actor. Of late, he has been represented by those who knew him as a man of decided anti-slavery sentiments; whereas, prior to the war, he was regarded as a sympathizer with the South. Out of motives of policy his views and sentiments must have undergone a change.

Like his father, the elder Booth, Wilkes sometimes indulged in the cup to excess, and on these occasions hallucinations of mind would take possession of had control him as they had done his father, who, on one or two occasions, upon the stage, came nigh committing actual and real murder instead of the mimic slaying provided for in the play.

In stature J. Wilkes Booth is about five feet ten inches high, of delicate frame, and features capable of being put in fine play; dark, piercing eyes, and dark hair. His intellectual faculties are highly cultivated. A younger brother, Joseph, is, or was, a medical student in Philadelphia.

There are several more articles pertaining to the death of Lincoln in the April 18, 1865 edition of The Richmond Whig but nothing too unusual or that hasn’t been recounted in this blog entry or the previous two entries.

Silver Persinger

Former Project Technician

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