Chasing Lincoln’s Killer Chapters III-V Summary & Analysis

James L. Swanson

Chasing Lincoln’s Killer

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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer Chapters III-V Summary & Analysis

Chapter III Summary

Swanson shifts to the simultaneous events happening at Seward’s home, less than a mile from Ford’s Theater. Lincoln and Seward are close friends and confidants, and Lincoln was very concerned after the accident.

On the night of the assassination, Seward is being attended to by his daughter, Fanny. Unknown to them, William Powell and David Herold are watching the house. According to Swanson, the fact of the carriage accident actually gave Booth the idea to assassinate Seward, since he felt confident that Seward would be at home. On the other hand, the mission for Powell is difficult, since it means making his way through the home, locating Seward, killing him, and escaping. Powell decides to pretend that he is a doctor’s messenger, with an important parcel.

At the door, Powell is greeted by a black servant, William Bell. Bell has no reason to doubt the veracity of Powell’s story; however, he is resistant to Powell’s demand to encounter Seward in person. Having entered the house, the large-framed Powell managed to make his way up to Seward’s room. Fanny Seward, concerned, opened the door to her father’s room just enough to see what was happening. Powell asked her whether her father was asleep, and she answered “Almost.” Although Seward’s son Frederick, who was on the landing with Powell, shut the door to the room, Powell wrenched it open. Frederick ordered Powell to hand over the package and leave, and Powell feigned compliance; but he immediately turned back and drew his pistol.

As it turned out, Powell’s pistol misfired as he attempted to shoot Frederick; he then struck Frederick with the pistol, breaking his weapon in the process. Another visitor, Sergeant Robinson, confronted Seward as he proceeded into the room, but Powell struck him in the face with the large knife he carried as a backup weapon. Bell, meanwhile, ran into the street screaming “Murder!” Powell reached Seward and managed to slash him in the face with his knife, scarring Seward for life.

Robinson engaged with Powell once again, wrestling with him around the room. Another of Seward’s sons, Augustus, arrived and assisted…

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