It is with sad feelings that I take up my pen & address you. Last Friday night at 10 oclock, I witnessed the saddest tragedy ever enacted in this country. Notwithstanding my promise to you not to visit the theatre, I could not resist the temptation to see General Grant and the President, and when the curtain at Ford's rose on the play of Our American Cousin my room mate and I were seated on the second row of orchestra seats, just beneath the presidents box. The President entered the Theatre at 8 1/2 o'ck, amid deafening cheers and the rising of all. Everything was cheerful, and never was our magistrate more enthusiastically welcomed, or more happy. Many pleasant allusions were made to him in the play to which the audience gave deafening responses, while Mr. Lincoln laughed heartily and bowed frequently to the gratified people. Just after the 3d Act, and before the scenes were shifted, a muffled pistol shot was heard, and a man sprang wildly from the national box, partially tearing down the flag, then shouting 'sic semper tyrannis', the south is avenged" with brandished dagger rushed across the stage and disappeared.
The whole theatre was paralyzed. But two men sprang for the stage, a Mr. Stewart & myself. Both of us were familiar with the play, and suspected the fearful tragedy. We rushed after the murderer and Mr. Stewart being familiar with the passages, reached the rear door, in time to see him spring on his horse and ride off. I became lost amid the scenery and was obliged to return. My roommate had followed me and secured the murderers hat. The shrill cry of murder from Mrs. Lincoln first roused the horrified audience, and in an instant the uproar was terrible. The silence of death was broken by shouts of "kill him," "hang him" and strong men wept, and cursed, and tore the seats in the impotence of their anger, while Mrs. Lincoln, on her knees uttered shriek after shriek at the feet of the dying President. Finally the theatre was clear and the President removed. Still greater was the excitement in the city. Rumors of the murder of Secy Seward and his son reached us as we gained the street—Mounted patrols dashed every where, bells tolled the alarm, and excited crowds rushed about the avenues.
[ . . . ]
Yesterday morning the president died. At 8 1/2 o'ck, the kindest, noblest, truest heart ceased to beat, and Abraham Lincoln was dead. Let no man ever speak to me again of Southern Chivalry, or talk in sympathy with trattorsâ€”The events of last night can never be forgotten and while there is strength in my arm, I never can, never will endure itâ€” Nor stand I aloneâ€”The nation is aroused and terrible will be its vengeance. Treason, pardoned, forgiven, patiently dealt with by our president, viper like, has stung the breast, that kindly treated it, and the traitor south, has slain its truest, noblest friend. Bitter, bitter will be the tears of repentance. But I cannot write of itâ€”Andrew Johnson has been sworn.