Abraham Lincoln — the 16th President of the United States, widely considered our greatest, above even Washington.
Abraham Lincoln, today, is considered one of the most beloved of American presidents. That was not always so. During the Civil War, Southerners hated Lincoln for ending slavery and many Northerners hated Lincoln for being too soft on the South.
Although over 145 years have passed since Lincoln's murder, interest, controversy, and speculation concerning the persons involved, and the reasons for, Lincoln's death continue.
What you, the internet visitor, may not realize is that President Lincoln fully expected to be murdered, during his second term in office, and had resigned himself to his fate, as much as anyone can who expects to die at the hand of another.
Poet Carl Sandburg wrote a multi-volume book series about Abraham Lincoln, published in 1939. In April of 1865, shortly before he was shot, Lincoln is quoted as saying, "About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along.
It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers. 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin!' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and though it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."
This dream was not Lincoln's only premonition of his demise. Lincoln informed his personal friend Ward Hill Lamon that while in his chamber in Springfield in 1860, he saw a strange vision while looking in a mirror. He saw a double image of himself. One face held the glow of life and breath, the other shone ghostly pale white. Lamon, as quoted by Sandburg, stated, "It had worried him not a little... the mystery had its meaning, which was clear enough to him... the life like image betokening a safe passage through his first term as President; the ghostly one, that death would overtake him before the close of the second... With that firm conviction, which no philosophy could shake, Mr. Lincoln moved on through a maze of mighty events, calmly awaiting the inevitable hour."
As quoted by Sandburg, three things, in Lamon's estimate, sustained and upheld Lincoln under the weight of this darkly foretold doom conveyed by an illusion in a mirror: "His sense of duty to his country; his belief that 'the inevitable' is right; and his innate and irrepressible humor."
Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6
by Carl Sandburg, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1939
Anatomy of an Assassination: The Murder of Abraham Lincoln
by John Cottrell, Funk & Wagnalls, 1966
Lincoln - An Illustrated Biography
by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt, 1992
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