"Oh Doctor, do what you can!"

First Medical Report on Lincoln's Assassination Uncovered

It was the discovery of a lifetime. Helena Iles Papaioannou, a researcher with the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project, was meticulously combing through 1865 correspondence of the U.S. Surgeon General when she came upon the long-lost report of Charles Leale, the doctor who treated the president on the night he was shot.

While Dr. Leale’s later testimony at a congressional hearing was known to historians, his original 21-page clinical report written the day after the assassination was missing. Read more »

Lee Defeats Grant

IN THE WORLD OF ALTERNATE HISTORY, IT ALL CAME OUT DIFFERENTLY—AND IN AN ERA WHEN REAL HISTORY IS TAKING SOME VERY STRANGE TURNS, THE GENRE IS FLOURISHING AS NEVER BEFORE

 

On the fatal night at Ford’s Theatre, Abraham Lincoln was carrying in his billfold a Confederate five-dollar bill. It was apparently a reminder of what was at stake in his job. If he failed, the bill would have value, and the whole world would be different. It might help him flee into hiding or exile. If Pickett’s charge had carried the Union breastworks, the bill could have had value.

 
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How Did Lincoln Die?

Everyone knows that the ball John Wilkes Booth fired into Abraham Lincoln’s brain inflicted a terrible, mortal wound. But when a prominent neurosurgeon began to investigate the assassination, he discovered persuasive evidence that Lincoln’s doctors must share the blame with Booth’s derringer. Without their treatment the President might very well have lived. Read more »

The Booth Obsession

The author joins the thousands who feel compelled to trace the flight of Lincoln’s assassin

The first non-children’s book I ever read was Philip Van Doren Stern’s novel The Man Who Killed Lincoln. How it fell into my hands I cannot say. I retain a clear memory of going to my mother to inquire about what appeared on page 16: “A big buck Negro, whose black skin glistened with sweat, held in his arms a young mulatto girl who was hysterical with desire.” Very baffling. What could it mean? Read more »

John Wilkes Booth’s Other Victim

When William Withers, Jr., stepped up to the conductor’s podium at Ford’s Theatre that April evening, he believed the greatest triumph of his career was just a few minutes away

April 14, 1865, was an important day for William Withers, Jr. He was the orchestra leader at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., and that evening he was going to perform his song “Honor to Our Soldiers” for Abraham Lincoln. The President had accepted an invitation by the management of the theater to see the actress Laura Keene in Our American Cousin; Keene herself was to lead the audience and cast in singing Withers’s tribute to Lincoln. Read more »

Targets Of Opportunity

MATTERS OF FACT

“ASSASSINATION IS NOT an American practice or habit,” wrote Secretary of State William H. Seward on July 15, 1864, “and one so vicious and so desperate cannot be engrafted into our political system. This conviction of mine has steadily gained strength. Read more »