ON the night of April 14, Andrew Johnson was occupying his usual quarters on the second floor of the Kirkwood House. He had not yet fully recovered from the depressing effects of his typhoid fever siege back in Nashville. Friday had been an exhausting day at the Capitol, and that evening he early retired to bed.
That evening it happened that L. I. Farwell, a former governor of Wisconsin, went to Ford's Theater, not so much to see Laura Keane in her benefit performance of "Our American Cousins," as to gain an opportunity between acts to take up a matter with President Lincoln, who was occupying a box that night in especial compliment to Miss Keane.
The moment the quick-witted Wisconsin politician heard a shot ring out, followed by a wild cry from Mrs. Lincoln and a histrionic voice shouting "Sic Semper Tyrannis," Farwell realized that the Great Emancipator had been the victim of an asassin. His alert imagination fed his fears of a widespread plot for the assassination of the other leading officers of the government --Johnson, Seward, Stanton and Grant. Perhaps the offer of a reward for such a wholesale assassination in a Selma, Alabama, paper, a few months before aroused Farwell's apprehensions. At any rate, he rushed from the theater and ran at top speed down F Street to the Kirkwood House. He was obsessed with fear that the Vice President too bad been killed. Noticing one of the hotel clerks, named Spencer, standing outside the hotel door, Farwell shouted: "Place a guard at the door. President Lincoln is murdered!" Inside he found another clerk at the office desk and shouted to him: "Guard the stairway and Governor Johnson's room. Mr. Lincoln is assassinated."
Without stopping, he knocked on the door of No. 68, the Vice President's room, and hearing no response, he knocked again and called out in the loudest tones he could command: " GovernorJohnson, if you are in the room, I must see you." He heard Johnson spring from his bed and exclaim: " Farwell, is that you?""Yes," be answered, "let me in." The door opened, Farwell entered, turned and locked the door, and told the startled Vice President the fearful news.