It’s the seventh time that Good Friday has fallen on April 14 since Pres. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. General Robert E. Lee had just surrendered his army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on Palm Sunday, five days earlier. Lincoln and his wife attended a play called “Our American Cousin” with a Major Rathbone and his fiancee, who were back-up guests when Gen. Grant and his wife were unable to attend.
Lincoln was killed by actor John Wilkes Booth, who some have described as the Brad Pitt of his day–a famous actor and beloved by the ladies. Others probably more accurately compared the entire Booth family to something like the modern-day Baldwin family of actors, with John’s older brother Edwin being Alec Baldwin, and John being more like William Baldwin (or Stephen).
I just ran across this fascinating TV clip from 1956 in which the last living witness of the assassination event in Ford’s Theater appears on the game show “I’ve Got a Secret.” This man, Samuel Seymour, was 5 years old when he went to the play on that Good Friday in 1865. He vividly remembers seeing Lincoln when he arrived and during the play, hearing the gun shot and seeing Lincoln slumped over, and Booth leaping onto the stage and running out. He continued to have nightmares about it even in his nineties.
I never dreamed I could see a TV interview with someone who had been at Ford’s Theater that night. What a sublime discovery, which brings us tantalizingly close to those momentous events of so long ago.