Lincoln's Bodyguard: a Man of Questionable Character
Certain facts concerning odd circumstances surrounding
the death of Lincoln have been available to the general public for
almost sixty-years, via Sandburg's widely available Lincoln books,
and yet are still not commonly known.
Lincoln, despite numerous death threats, was only
protected by one bodyguard on that fateful night at Ford's theater.
His name was John F. Parker and he was not of good character. According
to Sandburg, " In March and April of 1863 John F. Parker was
on trial on various charges: of being found asleep on a streetcar
when he should have been patrolling his beat; of conduct unbecoming
an officer through five weeks of residence in a house of prostitution,
where it was alleged he had been drunk, had been put to bed, had fired
a revolver through a window; the board found he was 'at a house of
ill fame with no other excuse than that he was sent for by the Keeper
(Miss Annie Wilson),' although there was 'no evidence that there was
any robbery there or, disturbance of the peace, or quiet of that neighborhood.'
And though in addition, Parker was charged with willful violation
of the police rules and regulations, having again used highly offensive
language toward a superior officer, the board took no action. The
list of trials, the repeated similar charges against Parker, the board's
own language about his conduct, and the findings in the evidence did
not merely indicate but showed conclusively that he was slack rather
than vigilant, of loose habits rather than a steady reliable man,
a cheap and slipshod specimen of a police officer rather than a sober
and dependable operative for highly responsible work.
Despite his low, unreliable character, and for reasons
that are not clear, on April 3 he was picked for bodyguard duty at
the White House. Ironically enough, the letter which informed Parker's
Washington D.C. police bosses of his new duties was signed by Mrs.