Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII Grant Suddenly Leaves Washington

THE President and Mrs. Lincoln had invited Mr. and Mrs. Grant to be their guests at Ford's Theater on Friday night, and the general had accepted the invitation. But the Grants did not attend the performance; instead, they left abruptly for the north to visit their children. This discourteous conduct cannot be passed over lightly. It would have been doubtful etiquette to decline such an invitation in the first place; but to accept and then to leave town, especially after public notice had been given that Grant would attend the performance, looks like a colossal faux pas. Or has the incident a deeper significance than appears on the surface?

Grant's life had been that of a soldier; strict obedience to the wishes of a superior must have been second nature to him. The invitation to a presidential party, given in honor of the victor of Appomattox Court House, implied a command. Ordinarily in such circumstances, Grant would have gone to the theater, regardless of his own wishes in the matter. More than a year later, long after he had become conscious of his power and popularity, he still meekly complied with similar requests of President Johnson, with whom he was never on as good terms as he had been with Lincoln. On the eighteenth of August, 1866, an invitation was tendered to the general, through Johnson's secretary, to attend a reception given at the Executive Mansion. " Grant was still unwilling to take any definite political position, such as his presence at this reception would indicate," said Adam Badeau, Grant's biographer, who knew and loved his chief; "but he felt himself obliged to obey the summons of the President. . . . Grant thought that without positive rudeness he could not refuse." Again, when Johnson had finished the plans for his famous swing around the circle, he asked Grant to accompany him. "A subordi

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