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nanimous policy, the severed sections of our common Union. Mr. Lincoln's heart was full of the generous sentiments which these circumstances were so well calcu. lated to inspire. On the morning of Friday, a Cabinet meeting was held, at which he was even more than nsually cheerful and hopeful, as he laid before the Secretaries his plans and suggestions for the treatment of the conquered people of the Southern States. And after the meeting was over he talked with his wife, waih all the warmth of his loving nature, of the four years of storm through which he had been compelled to pass, and of the peaceful sky on which the opening of his second term had dawned. His mind was free from forebodings, and filled only with thoughts of kindness and of future peace.
But Mr. Lincoln had failed to estimate aright one of the elements inseparable from civil war—the deep and malignant passion which it never fails to excite. Free from the faintest impulse of revenge himself, he could not ap. preciate its desperate intensity in the hearts of others. Mr. Seward, with his larger experience and more practi
. cal knowledge of human nature, had repeatedly told him that so great a contest could never close without passing through an era of assassination—that if it did not come as a means of aiding the rebel cause, it would follow, and seek to avenge its downfall, and that it was the duty of all who were responsibly and conspicuously connected with the Government, to be prepared for this supreme test of their courage and patriotic devotion. Mr. Seward himself, had acted upon this conviction, and had stood at his post always prepared for sudden death. Mr. Lincoln was unwilling to contemplate the possibility of such a crime. To all remonst:ances against personal exposure, he replied that his death could not possibly benefit the rebel cause, but would only rouse the loyalty of the land to fresh indignation, and that no precautions he could take would defeat the purpose of his murder, if it were really entertained. He continued, therefore, his habit of walking alone from the Executive Mansion to the War Department late at night, and of riding unattended to his summer residence, the Soldiers' Home, four or five miles from the Capital, until the Secretary of War finally forced his reluctant assent to the presence of a guard. From time to time during his Administration, he had received letters threatening him with assassination, but as they were anonymous, and couched in language of bravado, he put them aside without remark.
As the war drew towards its close, and the rebel cause seemed tottering to its fall, warnings of more significance reached the Government, and arrested the attention of its leading members. Hints of plots against the President's life, among the rebel agents abroad and in Canada, began to multiply, and towards the last of March, Secretary Seward received from our consuls in London and Liverpool detailed reports of revelations, made to their secret agents in France, of a comprehensive conspiracy against the lives of the President and Generals Grant and Sherman, assumed to be the main bulwarks of the National cause.* These warnings were so distinct and direct, that Mr. Seward consulted Secretary Stanton in regard to them, and it was agreed that he should lay the subject before the President the next day, and earnestly represent to him the expediency of avoiding, for a time, all public gatherings, and all needless exposure to possible assault. But the next day Mr. Seward was thrown from his carriage and, his foot catching in the steps, he was dragged for some distance, and so seriously injured, that he was compelled to dismiss all thought of public matters from his mind. Mr. Lincoln's visit to Richmond had led to remonstrances from friends, who feared that some rebel fanatic, frenzied by the overthrow of the rebel cause, might seek revenge in the murder of the President, and he had, in reply, given assurances that he would take all due precautions. But the matter evidently made but a momentary impression upon his mind, and his personal demeanor in all respects remained unchanged. On Friday, the 14th, he breakfasted with his son, Captain Robert Lincoln, who was on the staff of General Grant, and from whom he heard full details of the surrender of General Lee, of which Captain Lincoln had been an eye-witness. He received various public men after breakfast, among whom were Speaker Colfax and ex-Senator J. P. Hale, and conversed freely, in a tone of high and hopeful courage, of the immediate political future. Nothing can indicate more clearly the elation of mind with which the President regarded the future of the country, now that its safety had been assured, than the language he addressed, in conversation at this interview, to Mr. Colfax, who was at this time preparing for a journey overland to the Pacific coast. Said he:
* See Appendix.
“Mr. Colfax, I want you to take a message from me to the miners whom you visit. I have very large ideas of the mineral wealth of our nation. I believe it practically inexhaustible. It abounds all over the Western country, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, and its devel. opment has scarcely commenced. During the war, when we were adding a couple of millions of dollars every day to our national debt, I did not care about encouraging the increase in the volume of our precious metals. We had the country to save first. But now that the rebellion is overthrown, and we know pretty nearly the amount of our national debt, the more gold and silver we mine, we make the payinent of that debt so much the easier. Now," said he, speaking with more emphasis, “I am going to encourage that in every possible way. We shall have hundreds of thousands of disbanded soldiers, any many have feared that their return home in such great numbers might paralyze industry, by furnishing, suddenly, a greater supply of labor than there will be demand for. I am going to try to attract them to the hidden wealth of our mountain ranges, where there is room enough for all. Immigration, which even the war has not stopped, will land upon our shores hundreds of thousands more per year from overcrowded Europe. I intend to point them to the gold and silver that wait for them in the West. Tell the miners for me, that I shall promote their interests to the utmost of my ability; because their prosperity is the prosperity of the nation; and," said he, his eye kindling with enthusiasm,
prove, in a very few years, that we are indeed the treasury of the world.”
At eleven o'clock he attended the meeting of the Cabinet, already referred to, which was rendered more than usually interesting by the presence and report of General Grant, who had come direct to Washington from the field, without even entering the rebel Capital he had conquered, forgetful of himself, and eager only to secure to the country the best fruits of the victory he had achieved. At this meeting the policy to be adopted towards the rebel States was freely canvassed-all the leading points, submitted by the President, commanded the hearty acquiescence of the Cabinet and of General Grant, and, as the result of the interview, Secretary Stanton says he felt that the Government was stronger than at any previous period since the rebellion began. After the meeting was over, President Lincoln arranged to attend the theatre in the evening, expecting to be accompanied by General Grant, and sent his messenger to Ford's Theatre to engage a box. In the afternoon he received and conversed for a long time with several public men from his own State, and in the early evening had an interview with Speaker Colfax and Hon. George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, for whom, as an old friend, he had a warm regard. The conversation fell upon the apprehension widely felt for his life during his visit to Richmond, and he said that he shonld have felt the same fears concerning any one else under the same circumstances, but he could not feel that he himself was in any danger whatever. He afterwards gave Mr. Ashmun a card, directing his immediate admission the next morning, when Mr. Ashmun wished to see him upon business - and, turning to Mr. Colfax, said, “You are going to the theatre with Mrs. Lincoln and me, are you not?" Mr. Colfax, however, had other engagements for the evening, and could not go. Mr. Lincoln told him he would be glad to stay at home, but the people expected both General Grant and himself, and as General Grant had left town, he did not like to disappoint them altogether. He then again urged both Mr. Ashmun and Mr. Colfax to accompany him, but they both excused themselves on the score of previous engagements. At a little af. ter eight o'clock the President, with Mrs. Lincoln, entered their carriage, and halting at the residence of Senator Harris, where they were joined by Major H. R. Rathbone, the step-son, and by Miss Clara W. Harris, the daughter, of the Senator, they proceeded to Ford's Theatre, in Tenth Street, and immediately entered the box prepared for their reception.
This box was on the second floor of the theatre, looking down upon the stage, and on its right as the spectator enters the building. A narrow passage-way from the front behind the dress-circle leads to a door, which opens inwardly into an entry about eight feet long and four feet wide; from wisich, at its farther end, another door opens directly into the box. The President, passing through these doors, seated himself in a high-backed rocking-chair, placed for him at the corner of the box nearest the audience, Mrs. Lincoln sitting next to him on his right, Miss Harris sitting next, in the corner of the box farthest from the audience, and Major Rathbone sitting on a sofa just behind Miss Ilarris. The box was a double one, with a front of about ten feet looking upon the stage, a small pillar rising from the centre of the railing to the ceiling above. An American flag had been hung in front, in honor of the Presi. dent's attendance. The door which entered the box was directly behind the President, and about five feet from his chair; it was left standing open during the evening.
The play for that evening was the "American Cousin." During the performance the attendant of the President came out from the box and sat a few feet from the outer door leading to it. At about nine o'clock a man came to the vicinity, with a large official envelope in his hand, addressed, as is believed, to General Grant, and inquired for the President's messenger, to whom he exhibited the envelope, and of whom he made some inquiry, and then went away. At fifteen minutes after ten, John Wilkes Booth, an actor by profession, passed along the passage behind the spectators in the dress-circle, showed a card to the President's messenger, and stood for two or three minutes looking down upon the stage and the orchestra below. He then entered the vestibule of the President's box, closed the door behind him, and fastened it by bracing a short plank against it from the wall, so that it could not be opened from the outside. He then drew a small