Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV What Really Happened at Ford's Theater

THE sequence of events on the night of April 14 has been clearly established. The presidential carriage left the White House about ten minutes after eight o'clock. In it were President and Mrs. Lincoln, and Charles Forbes, Lincoln's footman. Ten minutes later, it arrived at the residence of Senator Harris. There Miss Harris and Major Rathbone entered the conveyance and, about half past eight, they all alighted in front of Ford's Theater. Parker had preceded the carriage on foot. The party ascended to the balcony from which a small corridor led into the two boxes, which had been thrown into one for the occasion. A chair had been placed for Parker outside this corridor, but he failed to use it, as he could not have followed the play from there.1

Up to the time of Booth's appearance, at about thirteen minutes after ten, nothing noteworthy occurred. Then things happened with lightning-like rapidity. Unheard and unseen, the assassin entered the box, and before the slightest suspicion was aroused he had fatally wounded Lincoln. Major Rathbone grappled with the murderer, but could not prevent his escape. It was all over in less than thirty seconds. Neither Mrs. Lincoln nor Miss Harris had even left their seats.2

According to Rathbone's sworn statement before Justice Olin on April 17, the box in Ford's Theater assigned to the President was occupied by President and Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris and himself, "and by no other person", as he averred with emphasis.

____________________
1
Crook, Memories of the White House, p. 29

Crook, Through Five Administrations, p. 72

2
Pitman, op. cit., p. 78

-22-

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