Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III The Strange Career of John F. Parker

IN his dispatches to the press Stanton made no mention of any measures that had been taken to protect the life of the President. In his letter to Adams he merely stated that the door to Lincoln's box had been left unguarded.

Historians have touched but lightly on the fact that the Chief Magistrate was accompanied by an armed bodyguard on the night of his assassination. Some writers have chosen to disregard this escort completely; others have vaguely referred to him as a messenger, as an attendant or as a servant.1 The truth is that he was a veteran member of the Metropolitan Police Force, one of four officers specifically detailed for White House duty. Although wearing civilian clothes, he was armed with a .38 Colt revolver. His orders were to stand at the entrance of the box and to permit no unauthorized person to enter it; his duty, to quote one of his mates, was to remain at his post and to protect the President at all hazards.2 The name of this guard was John F. Parker. Although he held a key position on the evening of that fatal fourteenth of April, and could easily have foiled the plans of the murderer, our knowledge of him is woefully inadequate. In all probability the little that is known of his life has never been fully set forth before.

Parker was born on May 19, 1830, in Frederick County,

____________________
1
See note to chapter III in part II of this volume, The Elusiveness of Mr. Parker
2
William H. Crook, Memories of the White House, ( Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1911), p. 41

-11-

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