Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI Premonitions vs. Secret Service Reports

WAS it a premonition of the approaching tragedy that prompted Lincoln to ask Stanton for a suitable guard on the eve of his assassination? Lincoln had brought with him to Washington all the mysticism and superstitions of his backwoods environment; only a few days prior to his death he had told his friend Ward Lamon of a pitiful dream he had had, in which he saw himself on a bier in the East Room of the White House, the victim of an assassin. William Crook, the President's bodyguard during the afternoon of the last day, remembered that Lincoln had said "goodbye" to him instead of "good night."1 But if Lincoln had evil forebodings at that time, they were not necessarily the vague feelings of a psychic mind. There were numerous tangible reasons why imminent danger to the President's life should have been anticipated and provided against. If Lincoln knew of these dangers, he only knew what was bruited about the Capital and what was generally accepted as true in all informed circles.

Over and above the threatening letters which Lincoln, like other prominent persons, was constantly receiving, reports had reached Washington that a serious attempt would be made toward the end of the war either to kidnap or murder the President. As early as March 19, 1864, the New York Tribune had printed a letter believed to have originated in the South. In this letter the possibilities for the success of such an enterprise were discussed at length.

____________________
1
Crook, Through Five Administrations, pp. 67-68

-40-

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