Death of President Lincoln 

US #77 – The first US mourning stamp was issued a year after Lincoln’s death.

On April 15, 1865, President Lincoln died less than 12 hours after being shot by John Wilkes Booth.

By early April 1865, the Civil War was drawing to a close.  The Union Army had taken the Confederate Capitol at Richmond and Robert E. Lee had surrendered his troops at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

US #122 is the only bi-color 1869 Pictorial to not produce an invert.

As hope for the war’s end grew nearer, President Lincoln was as cheerful as anyone had seen him in years.  His widow later recalled how he “was almost boyish in his mirth… free from care, surrounded by those he loved so well and by whom he was idolized… I never saw him so supremely cheerful – his manner was even playful.”

In spite of his good mood, Lincoln had admitted to his close friends that he’d had a troubling nightmare two weeks before about what would be his last day.  He’d dreamed that he was wandering the White House, following the sounds of sobs, only to discover his family and friends mourning his death.

US #137 is part of the Bank Note Series that replaced the then-unpopular Pictorials.

Despite the ominous dream, Lincoln remained positive and joyful, even attending a play with his wife on April 14.  It was there, at Ford’s Theater, while watching Our American Cousin, that President Lincoln was given the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first assassinated US President.  Reportedly, Lincoln’s bodyguard had left the theater during intermission to join friends for a drink, leaving the president unguarded when John Wilkes Booth arrived to shoot him.

US #222 is from 1890-93 Regular Issues, which were the last printed by the American Bank Note Company for 50 years.

A well-known actor, Booth entered the President’s box about 10:25 p.m.  Knowing the play by heart, he waited for one of its most famous lines to be uttered, and used the audience’s laugh to muffle the sound of his gunshot.  He’d shot President Lincoln in the back of the head.  Booth was immediately pursued by one of Lincoln’s guests, Major Henry Rathbone.  Booth leaped from the box and crossed the stage, which lead the audience to believe he was part of the play.  He then shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (Thus always to tyrants!) and “The South is avenged!” and escaped the theater.

US #304 – surrounding Lincoln are two figures holding an olive branch of peace.

Meanwhile, in the Presidential Box, three doctors who had been in the audience attended to Lincoln.  They realized he could not be saved, but moved him across the street to the Petersen House, where he died at 7:22 on the morning of April 15.  But the news of his assassination had already begun to spread across the country just moments after the shooting.

US #367 was part of a set of stamps issued for Lincoln’s 100th birthday.

Booth went on the run, traveling to Maryland to collect weapons.  He remained in hiding at a tobacco farm for several days before Union soldiers discovered him.  They surrounded the barn and warned that they would set it on fire unless Booth gave himself up.  When he responded, “I will not be taken alive!” they set the barn on fire.  Then, one of the men shot and paralyzed Booth.  He was carried outside and told a solider “Tell my mother I die for my country.”  Looking at his hands, Booth spoke his last words, “Useless…Useless” before dying two hours later.

Click here for lots more President Lincoln stamps. 

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
Share this Article

11 Comments

  1. A dark moment in U S History. Many historians believe that the Confederate States would have recovered from the destruction of the war at a quicker pace had Lincoln served his second term. We will never know with certainty what the greatest president this nation has ever had would have accomplished in the remaining years of his service.

    1. Last evening I read an interesting story by BRAD MELTZER (Book title: HISTORY DECODED) which says that John Wilkes Booth was not the person killed by the Union soldier and that Booth lived for 40 more years and killed himself by drinking embalming fluid and arsenic in Enid, Oklahoma where he had used a different name.
      INTERESTING!

      1. Yes, and Lincoln didn’t actually die on April 25, but survived his wound and made a fortune in the dry goods business in San Francisco. Under a different name, of course. And the Titanic didn’t actually sink in 1912, but…well, we could go on and on.

  2. The Oklahoma story is more legend than truth. Booth’s body was identified by several on the front porch where he died.

  3. Thank You! Mr Conrad Gaunt. Yes, your right in that certain historical events,
    did not ‘happened’ the way we have read and come to know them. There is even stories of persons that we know existed in the passed, and never did.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *