53 pages • 1 hour readJames L. Swanson
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Stanton’s investigation progressed rapidly, and by 4:00 a.m. Booth’s strange, unsent letter had been discovered; this indicated the likelihood of a conspiracy. The letter gave clues that pointed toward a Confederate plot, as well as other things that were not exactly true. Meanwhile, the President was brain dead and his life was fading; he died at 7:22 a.m. Stanton took a lock of hair and sent it to Mary Janes Welles, the wife of the Secretary of the Navy. Welles had cared for the Lincolns before in times of need, and Stanton thought she deserved this memento.
After death, Lincoln was taken to the Executive Mansion in a plain pine box. Swanson notes that the coffin was fitting for this unpretentious figure. Likewise, the modest parade that escorted him, made of a carriage and a few officers on horse and foot, would have likely fit his tastes.
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At 11:00 a.m., Andrew Johnson was sworn in as President in his room at Kirkwood House by Chief Justice Salmon Chase.
Meanwhile, John Surratt was in Elmira, New York, nowhere near the assassination plot. Learning of the assassination, he knew he could be a suspect, so he fled to Canada.
By James L. Swanson