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Assassination of Abraham Lincoln - DREAMS OF DEATH

DREAMS OF DEATH (Illustration) American Presidents Biographies Famous Historical Events Famous People Government Nineteenth Century Life Social Studies American History

President Lincoln, it is said, paid attention to his dreams. This image depicts a lithograph, created by Louis Maurer and published by Currier & Ives (circa 1864), which has the President worrying that he might lose the election of 1864. The work has this title: “Abraham’s dream!–Coming Events Cast Their Shadows Before.” The Library of Congress describes the work in greater detail at its website.

 

It would not be uncommon for someone who receives death threats to have nightmares.

Days before his assassination, the President had a dream that troubled him. He talked with his wife about it. He told his cabinet and his bodyguard, William Crook. He told Ward Hill Lamon, who recorded the story in one of his books, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln:

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 deathlike 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. I saw 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. There was a throng of people, 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 woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.  (Pages 116-117)

On the day he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln told his bodyguard, William H. Crook:

Crook, do you know I believe there are men who want to take my life? And I have no doubt they will do it...I know no one could do it and escape alive. But if it is to be done, it is impossible to prevent it. (Margarita Spalding Gerry, editor, Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, p. 66)

Hours later, John Wilkes Booth stepped into the Presidential Box at Ford's Theater. He had a derringer and a knife in his hands.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 07, 2017


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