I finished Team of Rivals tonight and wasn’t prepared for the emotion that came with Lincoln’s assassination. I had just spent 743 pages getting endeared to him and then in a moment, he was gone to the ages.
Linc’s Secretary of State was William Seward. Seward had been one of the former rivals and then had built a close-knit relationship to the President–adoring him as did everyone who learned to know him. Simultaneous to Lincoln’s assassination was the attempt to take Seward’s life. It was a bloody, murderous scene in Seward’s home as the intruder killed Seward’s son and severely injured Seward and three others in the home.
As he was convalescing three days later, the nation was in mourning, but:
The news of Lincoln’s death was withheld from Seward. The doctors feared that he could not sustain the shock. On Easter Sunday, however, as he looked out the window to Lafayette Park, he noticed the War Department flag at half-mast. “He gazed awhile,” Noah Brooks reported, “then, turning to his attendant,” he announced, “The President is dead.” The attendant tried to deny it, but Seward knew with grim certainty. “If he had been alive he would have been the first to call on me,” he said, “but he has not been here, nor has he sent to know how I am, and there’s the flag at half-mast.” He lay back on the bed, “the great tears coursing down his gashed cheeks, and the dreadful truth sinking into his mind.” His good friend, his captain and chief, was dead.
General Ulysses S. Grant said:
I have no doubt that Lincoln will be the conspicuous figure of the war. He was incontestably the greatest man I ever knew.