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The last hours of President Lincoln's life

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According to an eyewitness account delivered by John P. Usher in a letter to his wife dated April 16, 1865, the Secretary of the Interior was with him when Mr. Lincoln died. He described the scene as follows:

“I found the President in a house opposite the theatre into which with some difficulty I was permitted to enter. He was upon a bed in a low back room with a shed roof scarcely enough to admit twenty persons. I heard his thick heavy breathing as soon as I entered the outside door and when approaching the room I found Stanton, McCullough and Mr. Welles with the Surgeons – four or five in number. Oglesby and Farnsworth of Illinois were there – John Hay and four or five others Summer and Colfax with the number.”

Usher continued in the letter saying “Soon Mrs. Lincoln came in and the scene that occurred begged description. She implored him to speak to her. She said she did not want to go to the theatre that night but that he thought he must go because people would expect him as he had been so extensively advertised (which it appears the villain had done). She called for little Tad. She said she knew he would speak to him because he loved him so well. After indulging in dreadful incoherences for some time until she was finally persuaded to leave the room.”

Usher told his wife Mr. Lincoln “never opened his eyes or spoke a word but remained wholly insensible” prior to dying at 7:22 a.m. “His breathing was deep almost a snore till toward the last when it was almost a moan.”

Mr. Usher left the administration shortly after Mr. Lincoln’s death. He told his wife in this same letter that he looked forward to being with her and “away from these horrid scenes.”

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