1. Did you know … that Abraham Lincoln never traveled to a foreign country. He spent his entire life in the United States. There is no record of him ever entering Canada or Mexico. Nor did he ever travel abroad. However, on the night of his assassination, he mentioned to his wife Mary that he would like to one day visit Jerusalem.
2. Did you know … that fifteen people turned down President Lincoln’s invitation to join him and Mary at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his assassination, April 14, 1865? One reason is that it was Good Friday of the Easter weekend so many of them could have had other plans, as they claimed. But when you consider that fifteen people turned down the President of the United States to spend the evening with him, it does make you wonder.
The fifteen that turned down the Lincoln’s were, (in no particular order): Mr. & Mrs. Edwin Stanton, General & Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, William A. Howard, General Isham N. Haynie, Richard J. Olgesby, Richard Yates, Noah Brooks, Thomas Eckert, George Ashmun, Schuyler Colfax, Mr. & Mrs. William H. Wallace & Robert Lincoln.
What reasons did they have? Here are the reasons given by each participant.
1 & 2. Edwin Stanton was Lincoln’s Secretary of War. Mrs. Stanton did not like Mary Todd Lincoln and this is believed to be the reason they turned down the invitation.
3 & 4. Mr. & Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant told the President that they were catching a train to New Jersey to visit their children for the weekend. The real belief was that, like Mrs. Stanton, Mrs. Grant did not like Mary Todd Lincoln and had no intention of spending an evening with her.
5. William A. Howard, was the Postmaster of Detroit. He told Mr. Lincoln that the he was headed out of town later that day.
6, 7 & 8. General Isham N. Haynie (a visitor from Illinois), Richard J. Olgesby (Governor of Illinois) & Richard Yates (ex-Governor of Illinois) all claimed to be meeting friends that night.
9. Noah Brooks was a reporter who turned down the Lincoln’s because he was suffering from a cold.
10. Thomas Eckert was a telegraph operator at the War Department. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton told Eckert that he could not go because he had too much work to do.
11. George Ashmun of Massachusetts had presided over the 1860 Republican Convention (where Lincoln was nominated for President) explained to Mr. Lincoln that he had a previous engagement.
12. Shuyler Colfax, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was traveling to the Pacific Coast the following morning so declined the evening out.
13 & 14. Mr. & Mrs. William H. Wallace, the Governor of Idaho territories, claimed to be too tired to attend the play that evening.
15. Robert Lincoln, the President’s eldest son, turned them down because he had just returned from a tour of duty with General Grant. He was tired and just wanted to go to bed.
So, for whatever reasons these fifteen people had that day, there is no telling if any of them would have been able to save the President from his fate that night. We can just never know.
To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”
If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by three Lincoln experts: