Abe Lincoln’s Assassination

14 Apr

It was 150 years ago this evening that President Lincoln, along with his wife was at Ford’s Theatre watching “Our American Cousin” when John Wilkes Booth shot him in the back of the head, which proved fatal the next morning.

I was wondering how Southern newspapers treated the news of the assassination, as the war ended just days earlier.  I found this article in the April 16, 1865 New York Times which shows the depth of the feelings that the nation felt when the news of his death came out:

April 16, 1865 New York Times.  Image via ProQuest Historical Papers via the UNC Charlotte Murray Adkins Library.

April 16, 1865 New York Times. Image via ProQuest Historical Papers via the UNC Charlotte Murray Adkins Library.

But because this was after the war, the materials needed to print a newspaper was in short supply, some Southern newspapers were only twice weekly or once a week.  Now in Charlotte,  the Observer and News would be a couple of decades away from starting publication but I was able to find on copies of the Western Democrat which was being published at that time.  The April 18, 1865 edition only discusses the surrender at Appomattox and not the assassination.

This could be a result of telegraph lines still in the rebuilding stages from the destruction of the war or there was not enough paper that was saved to be scanned into a digital format in the 21st century.  But, the May 29, 1865 edition does talk about the attempted capture of John Wilkes Booth (he was killed in a shootout at Garrett’s Barn in Virginia on April 26, 1865) President Johnson’s orders regarding the property of the former Confederacy including the former Navy, ordering the Postmaster General to reestablish postal routes and any acts and proceedings of the former Confederate government is null and void.

This author is not saying that Charlotte did not mourn the late president, but feelings may still have been raw about the surrender of General Lee and the Confederate Army, the passing of a way of life that was comfortable for most people.  If you want to read more about this time period, you may want to find America Aflame by Dr. David Goldfield (Bloomsbury Press) 2011.  This can be ordered from any bookstore (although for my Charlotte readers you may want to try Park Road Books in the Park Road Shopping Center)

Where did I get my information today?

The Western Democrat, May 29, 1865 edition. Page one,,1447_to_3659,8560/ accessed on April 14, 2015

New York Times, April 16, 1865 edition. Page one. via ProQuest Historical Papers.  Accessed through the Murray Adkins Library of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on April 14, 2015.

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Posted by on April 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


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