The account of Lincoln’s assassination in Gov. Blasdel’s diary |

The account of Lincoln’s assassination in Gov. Blasdel’s diary

Sue Ballew
Special to the Appeal

Nevada State Library and Archive Henry Goode Blasdel's diary is shown here. Blasdel, the first elected governor of Nevada, wrote a proclamation about slain President Abraham Lincoln and then detailed Lincoln's death in his diary.

The Carson Daily Appeal began printing about a month after Lincoln’s assassination, but in the days following there were many reports. Information came to the newspaper from the East via telegraph, although the messages were sporadic as Indians would occasionally tear town the lines. Henry Goode Blasdel was the first elected Governor of the state of Nevada. He not only wrote a proclamation regarding Lincoln’s death, but beginning on April 15, 1865, wrote about the days to follow in his diaries.

Daily Diary 1865

Friday, April 14, 1865

President Lincoln was this day assassinated in Washington City, by the notorious J. Wilkes Booth, illegitimate son of Junius Brutus Booth, an English actor and attempted at the same hour to assassinate Hon. Wm. H. Seward, Secy of State, in his bed, to which he was confined from recent injuries by a fall from his carriage.

Saturday, April 15, 1865

Rec’d the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln, and attempted assassination of Secy. Seward, last night, at Washington City. Mr. Lincoln died this morning.

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Sunday, April 17, 1865

The Cheering news by telegraph today is, that Mr. Secy. Seward is improving slightly.

Rev. W. F. White delivered a feeling and eloquent discourse on the assassination of President Lincoln. (A. F. White was an early minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Carson City. (from Nevada Historical Society Quarterly, Summer 1983).

Monday, April 18, 1865

Earnest and appropriate preparations are being made by the citizens generally, to observe, in a becoming manner, the funeral rights of President Lincoln.

(From the Dairy of Governor Blasdel, Nevada State Library and Archives)

On May 23, 1865, the following Proclamation appears calling for a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer:

Proclamation (in part)

State of Nevada

Executive Department

WHEREAS, GREAT GRIEF HAS BEEN officially brought upon our land and nation by the untimely death of our Chief Ruler, Abraham Lincoln; and whereas, in this time of national sorrow, we should look up to a higher source than a man for relief and consolation and whereas it is right and proper at all times to acknowledge God as our Supreme Ruler, and the giver of all good gifts, therefore, let us humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father, with fasting; and sincerely pray for His protection and guidance in this time of great affliction…

And to this end, and in accordance with the Proclamation of the President of the United States, and wishes of a heart stricken people I do appoint,

Thursday, the 1st day of June, 1865, as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer…

Even though Lincoln had died on April 15, 1865, the reports continue. The following are a chronology of events as they appear in the Carson Morning Appeal:

May 12, 2008 The Appearance of Lincoln after death.

Death had fastened into the late President’s frozen face all the character and idiosyncrasy of life. He had not changed one line of his grave, grotesque countenance nor smoothed, a single feature … The white satin around him reflected sufficient light upon the face to show that death was really there but sweet roses and early magnolias and the balmiest of lilies were strewn around, as if the flowers had began to bloom even upon his coffin.

John Wilkes Booth and his Father: May 20, 1865, – People of the time questioned the sanity of John Wilkes Booths’ father … from the Louisville Journal:

There can be no doubt that J. Wilkes Booth, if guilty of having assassinated President Lincoln, should be hung… We have no doubt that John Wilkes, though a mass of great historic genius, has a road streak of insanity in his nature. The elder Booth, the father of Wilkes, came to this city upon a theatrical engagement… He then asked us to go up to his room and see some of his departed friends. Having an awful prejudice against the sight of ghosts we declined. He urged. We yielded. We went with him, and he introduced us to twelve or fifteen roosters hens and pullets, his traveling companions throughout country, suggesting that they were the deceased friends, and telling us the names of each…

There were conspiracy theories during that time, Jeff Davis was thought to be one of three to be assassinated. Here it appears there is truth.

The Post says that it has information, from trustworthy official source, that a note or dispatch in cypher was found in Booth’s pocket. A paper in cypher had previously been found in Jeff Davis’s house in Richmond. This paper was supposed to be of no importance until the one in Booth’s pocket was compared with it. The note proves that Davis was in communication with two men in Canada, for whom a reward has been offered.

A recommendation came to honor Lincoln’s birthday, July 12, 1800:

A Day to be Celebrated: May 25, 1865

… On 12th day of July, 1800, Abraham Lincoln was born. That day should not go by unheeded. Its universal celebration by American freemen should follow the glad demonstration of the Fourth of July. Let us not fail to commemorate the natal day of the father of our second age of freedom. “It is meant that should make merry and be glad,” and that the inauguration of the 12th day of July as a national holiday should owe its inception at the hands of this the youngest of the sisterhood of states.

News of Lincoln’s death had reached Europe – in Sicily a street was named after Lincoln and the French planned a gold metal inscribed with “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity…”

Assassination in Europe: May 25, 1865

The Empress Eugenie presided at a State Council on the 6th. She afterwards received the American Ambassador and addressed private letter of sympathy to Mrs. Lincoln. The Municipality of Palermo, Sicily, has determined that one of the streets of that city shall be named after President Lincoln….The Phare de la Loire of Nantes which appeared in mourning on publishing the news of Lincoln’s murder now suggests that a penny subscription should be collected for the purpose of presenting Mrs. Lincoln with a gold metal bearing the following inscription: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity – To Lincoln, twice elected President of the United States, the French democracy are grateful; to Lincoln, the honest man, who abolished slavery, re-established the Union and saved the Republic without violating the Statue of Liberty.

A letter from a soldier near the theatre who had a suspicion that danger was in the air sent a sorrowful letter to his father shortly after Lincoln was shot.

A new revelation: April 13, 1865 (printed in the Appeal May 27, 1865)

Dear Father: With sorrow I pen these lines. The death of President Lincoln has deeply affected me. And why shouldn’t it, when I might have saved his precious life?

I was standing in front of the theater when the two assassins were conversing. I heard part of their conversation. It was not sufficiently plain for an outsider to understand the true meaning of it; yet it apprised Sergeant Cooper and myself that they were anxious that the President should come out of his carriage which was standing just behind us. The second act would soon end, and they expected he would come out then. I stood awhile between them and the carriage, with my revolver ready, for I began to suspect them. The act ended but the President did not appear; so Booth went into the restaurant and took a drink … I was invited by my friend to have some oysters and went to a saloon around the corner, and had just gotten seated when a man came running in and said the President was shot … signed M. Dyes

The death of John Wilkes Booth was reported near the banks of the Rappahannock River in Virginia. He was caught hiding in a barn. When it was set on fire, Booth came out and was shot. He said to his captors, “Tell mother I die for my country” and he did April 26, 1865, 11 days after Lincoln’s assassination.

• Sue Ballew is the daughter of Bill Dolan, who wrote the Past Pages column for the Nevada Appeal from 1947 until his death in 2006. She is president of the Carson City Historical Society and a docent at the Nevada State Museum.

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