Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln’s Assassination

Why do most of the Lincoln death pictures not look like he is in a theatre?

Policemen and theatre-goers carried the wounded, unconscious president to a nearby boarding house. Brought to a room on the first floor of the Petersen house, Lincoln remained unconscious but still breathing for many hours. The men that gathered around him were from the top of Washington’s government, but not all could be present because attempts had also been made on the lives of Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward.

Most of the black-and-white prints that were made of the deathbed scene are accurate in most of the details, but there was an attempt, on the part of many of the sketch artists, to make Lincoln appear Christlike. He may, indeed, have seemed that way to some of those who stood, knelt, and prayed by the bedside. To many of them, Lincoln had once been the rubelike man from the Midwest, but he now personified the nation. It was hard to imagine the United States without him.


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