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IN THE HOSPITALS.
messenger came, saying that one ward had been omitted, and the boys wanted to see the President. The surgeon, who was thoroughly tired, and knew Mr. Lincoln must be, tried to dissuade him from going, but the good man said he must go back; he would not knowingly omit one, the boys would be so disappointed. So he went with the messenger, accompanied by the surgeon, and shook hands with the gratified soldiers, and then returned again to the office. The surgeon expressed the fear that the President's arm would be lamed with so much handshaking, saying that it certainly must ache. Mr. Lincoln smiled, and, saying something about his strong muscles, stepped out at the open door, took up a very large, heavy ax which lay there, by a log of wood, and chopped vigorously for a few moments, sending the chips flying in all directions; and then pausing, he extended his right arm to its full length, holding the ax out horizontally without its even quivering as he held it. Strong men who looked on, men accustomed to manual labor, could not hold the ax in that position for a moment. Returning to the office, he took a glass of lemonade—for he would take no stronger beverage—and while he
was in, the chips he had chopped were gathered up and safely cared for by a hospital steward, because they were the chips that “Father Abraham' chopped.”
He returned to Washington on that evermemorable Tenth of April when the whole land was resplendent with banners and the air vibrating with the music of bands. No sooner had he received the embraces of his family, than his residence was surrounded by thousands of people, determined to see him and compel him to speak. He appeared and made a little speech, which he said he thought would be sufficient to “disperse them,” but they would not be “dispersed.” Appearing at a later hour, he said:
“I am greatly rejoiced that an occasion has occurred so pleasurable that the people can't restrain themselves. I suppose that arrangements are being made for some sort of formal demonstration. If there should be such a demonstration, I, of course, shall have to respond to it, and I shall have nothing to say if I dribble it out before. [Laughter, and cries of “We want to hear you now.') I see you have a band. (Voice, We have three of them.'] I propose now closing up by requesting you to
play a certain air or tune.
I have always thought Dixie' one of the best tunes I ever heard. [Laughter.] I have heard that our adversaries over the way have attempted to appropriate it as a national air. I insisted, yesterday, that we had fairly captured it. I presented this question to the Attorney-General, and he gave his opinion that it is our lawful prize. [Laughter and cheers.] I ask the band to give us a good turn upon it.”
The tune was played vigorously, and Mr. Lincoln retired. On the 11th of April he issued a proclamation requiring foreign nations to accord to our war vessels all the privileges and immunities of a friendly power at peace, on the penalty, should they refuse, of placing the same restrictions upon their vessels that they did upon ours.
This was his last official act. On the 14th he went out to ride with Mrs. Lincoln, and was in an unusually happy mood. He spoke to her hopefully of rest from his years of exhaustive care and toil, and of a visit to their old home. From his inauguration onward he frequently received letters threatening his life, and often expressed a presentiment that he would not long survive. But the sunlight of peace which broke upon the country had driven those gloomy forebodings away from his heart, and he was full of happiness, and full of generous and benevolent emotions toward his late enemies and antagonists.
At the suggestion of some friends, it was arranged, during the day, that General Grant and the President should attend a play at Ford's Theater in the evening. To this Mr. Lincoln consented, and about nine o'clock, in company with Mrs. Lincoln, entered the theater, taking a private box above the stage. General Grant was called away by business and left the city early in the evening. While the play was progressing. Mr. Lincoln seemed amused by the entertainment, and smiled and conversed in a lively mood to those near him. Suddenly a pistol-shot resounded through the house, and a man leaped from Mr. Lincoln's box upon the stage, brandished a knife in a tragical manner, and disappeared behind the scenes. The screams of Mrs. Lincoln, an instant later, revealed what had taken place, and the audience sprang to their feet in wildest excitement and horror. One of the audience pursued the assassin, and saw him
mount and ride swiftly away. Mr. Lincoln had fallen slightly forward and was insensible. The shot had taken effect in the back part of the head, and was at once known to be mortal. He was carried to a house opposite, and surgeons and friends gathered around. During the night, he breathed at times easily, and at other times so laboriously that the friends who were present gathered around to see the last. At six o'clock in the morning his struggle was over, and his spirit took its flight from the earth.
At the same hour in which the fatal shot was fired in Ford's Theater, an assassin forced his way into the sick chamber where Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, was lying prostrate with disease, and stabbed him repeatedly, striking down and killing one attendant who came to his rescue, and severely wounding others. Mr. Seward, after receiving the first blow, sought escape by rolling off the back part of the bed, and, though severely injured, recovered both from his disease and the wounds inflicted by the assassin.
The assassin of Mr. Lincoln was recognized, as he crossed the stage after committing the deed, as a play-actor named Wilkes Booth; and,