Saturday, January 23, 2021

Abraham Lincoln and the Second Portuguese Church.

See footnote about The Marine and Fire Insurance Company.
Pictured here is a check for $5 ($150 today) payable to the Second Portuguese Church, written and signed by Abraham Lincoln on July 16, 1860. The Second Portuguese Church? Abraham Lincoln? What could have been the connection?

The saga unfolds in Madeira, the Portuguese islands off the coast of Africa, in 1838. Doctor Robert Reid Kalley, a wealthy physician, and minister of the Free Church of Scotland, en route to missionary work in China, stopped at Funchal, Madeira, when his wife became ill.

As she convalesced, the couple decided that this lovely island would be a fine place to dispense free medical care, plus the Scotch Presbyterian interpretation of the scriptures. As a man of means, Dr. Kalley was able not only to maintain his free dispensary and hospital but to establish schools and hire teachers so the natives could learn English (and he, Portuguese).

The predominant religious authority in the Portuguese islands was the Roman Catholic Church. For a couple of years, Kalley avoided their displeasure. But when his church began attracting to open-air Sunday Calvinist services some 1,000 to 3,000 people, the Catholic powers, represented by the Bishop of Madeira, intervened.

Arrests and ex-communications began. Kalley protested to the archbishop in Lisbon, and orders were sent from there to halt the persecution. That did not deter the local clergy and courts. They persisted with arrests and imprisonment. Kalley himself spent five months in jail in 1845. 

That prompted his return to Scotland, but other missionaries arrived. The religious conflict intensified, culminating in riots in 1846. With this unrest came a worsening economy. The combination drove 1,000 Portuguese to leave Madeira on English ships. They stopped in Trinidad, where they worked on sugar and cocoa plantations. The women became housemaids and seamstresses. But as a group, they were not happy with the climate and overall environment.

To the rescue came an organized Christian coalition. The American Protestant Society rook an interest and made plans to bring the displaced people to America. The American Hemp Company agreed to settle 131 families between Jacksonville and Springfield, Illinois, each family with 10 acres of land. The Missionary Society raised the money and transported the immigrants from Trinidad to New York and then Illinois.

At the critical moment, when it was time to settle the families on the farms, American Hemp was unable or unwilling to proceed. Now another rescue effort was organized. All the Protestant churches in Jacksonville and Springfield joined forces. With great generosity, they provided the essentials to launch the newcomers. The grateful Portuguese became model residents, integrating with the business and professional life of the community.

By 1855, there were 350 Portuguese in Springfield, and for several years they continued to arrive from Trinidad and Madeira. In the first generation, socially, they maintained their ethnic culture. They formed three Portuguese Presbyterian churches in Jacksonville and two in Springfield. Some 17 Madeirans later saw service for the North in the Vicksburg campaign and the siege of Atlanta.

Lincoln's awareness of the Second Portuguese Church could have originated from Portuguese clients of the law firm of Lincoln and Herndon, but his more personal interest probably stemmed from the family's employment of young Frances Affonsa. Frances, a dark-skinned, black-eyed Portuguese girl, came to the house sometime between Lincoln's defeat for the U.S. Senate in 1858 and his presidential nomination. She is reponed to have declared simply, "I wash clothes, Mrs. Lincum."

The girl's conscientious work and good nature made a favorable impression on Mary Lincoln, who was known to be hard on household help. Frances, as a laundress, was junior in the household to Mariah Vance, a pipe-smoking black woman, 10 years older than Lincoln, who served the family from 1850, first as a laundress, maid, then general housekeeper. Mariah did not live with the Lincolns—she had I2 children and a husband in the town. Her son Billie became a close friend of Robert Todd, who taught him to read and write.

It is from Mariah that we learn most about the private lives of the Lincolns, for her remembrances were written in Black English by Adah Sutton. About Abe, Mariah said, "Dat man was a man of Gawd and he was crucified every day of his life." And about Mary, "Honey chile, ef ah wah good 'nough fah dah Missy Lincolumn, ah shuh and be good 'nough fah mose anyone. Dae woman wah shuhb 'ticklah."
Portrait of Abraham Lincoln by Leopold Grozelier, 1960.

May of 1860 was a time of great excitement for the Lincoln household. The Republican nominating convention began in Chicago on May 16. One hundred and fifty railroad trains a day brought 40,000 curious strangers and 500 delegates to the city. The old Sauganash Hotel at the corner of Lake and Market streets had been torn down and replaced with a barn-like wooden structure called The Wigwam.
Ten thousand people crowded into a vast interior, festooned with flags and streamers of red, white, and blue. Norman Judd, a railroad lawyer, stood before the huge assemblage and delivered one brief line. "I desire, on behalf of the delegation from Illinois, to put in nomination, as a candidate for president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln of Illinois."

"Five thousand people leaped from their seats, women not wanting," a Lincoln supporter reported, "and the wild yell made vesper breathings of all that had preceded. A thousand steam whistles, 10 acres of hotel gongs, a tribe of Comanches might have mingled in the scene unnoticed." 

"Old Abe," "Honest Abe," "The Backwoodsman," "The Rail Splitter" defeated the favored William Seward for the nomination. (Horace Greeley had wired his New York Tribune that Seward seemed sure to win). 

Two months after the nomination, Lincoln made his $5 contribution to the Second Portuguese Church... at the request of Frances Affonsa? Mary? A congregant who dutifully came to the door seeking donations? Or was it just Old Abe's kindly charitable inspiration?

On November 6, Lincoln won the presidency, polling 1.8 million votes to 1.3 for Democrat Stephen Douglas. Amidst the jubilation, back in Springfield, the president-elect received a stately black silk hat as a gift. He said simply to Mary, "Well, wife, if nothing else comes of this scrape, we're going to have some new clothes."

By Sanford J. Mock
Edited by Dr. NeilGale, Ph.D.

When Lincoln opened his account with $310 ($7,890 today), the company had been in business for nearly two years. Lincoln was a bank depositor from March 1, 1853, until his death on April 15, 1865. Its improbable name in a landlocked town reflected how goods reached Springfield in the nineteenth century -- partly on the Illinois River. The company dropped marine insurance from its business after railroad shipping replaced waterway transportation, but retained the "marine" part of its name for many years.
The original Lincoln family account ledger with the Marine and Fire Insurance Company, which is now JP Morgan Chase Bank, 6th & Washington Streets, Springfield, Illinois. (1853-1867)
Today you can see the Lincoln ledger in the bank lobby preserved in a custom-built case decorated with bas relief sculpture on three sides. The case depicts Lincoln as his friends in central Illinois knew him: pioneer rail-splitter, storekeeper and law student, and state representative. The ledger book is opened to the Lincoln account, where "A. Lincoln" appears at the top, written by his banker, Robert Irwin. When Lincoln left Springfield as president-elect, Irwin made transactions as his local agent. After Lincoln's death, the account continued in the name of David Davis, administrator of the Lincoln estate, until May 27, 1867.
Photograph of The Marine and Fire Insurance Company on the East Side of the Public Square, Springfield, Illinois. Circa 1860s

Friday, January 22, 2021

Did John Wilkes Booth Break his Leg Jumping from Lincoln's Box at Ford's Theatre? I Think Not.

History says Presidential Assassin John Wilkes Booth broke his leg as he made the jump from the President’s Box to the stage, claiming Booth’s spur was caught on the red, white, and blue flag that draped the front of the area where the Lincoln party sat. In the 21st century, however, historiography must go toe-to-toe with forensic history. 
Actor/Assassin John Wilkes Booth

Upon a closer examination of primary sources, including letters from both Booth and the doctor who treated him, there is now a greater possibility of creating doubt over when Booth actually broke his leg: was it as he landed on the stage at Ford’s Theatre, or later in the evening as he raced away from the scene of the crime?
President Abraham Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater, Washington DC, April 1865. 

President Lincoln, his wife Mary, and two guests, Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris, were late arriving at the theatre for the start of the play. The Lincoln party made its way to the Presidential Box, on the right-hand side of and elevated from the stage. Unbeknown to any of them, a man by the name of John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor was approaching the Presidential Box as well.
In 1968, Ford's Theatre officially reopened as a national historic site and theatre producing live performances.

John Wilkes Booth was born on May 10, 1838, near Bel Air, Maryland. Booth was the second youngest of ten children. His father, Junius Brutus Booth, was a famous actor and was eccentric, with a reputation for heavy drinking. John and his siblings were raised on a farm, which was worked by the family’s slaves. As a child, Booth attended the Milton Boarding School for Boys and later St. Timothy’s Hall. To those who knew him, it seemed only natural that he would follow in his father’s footsteps by being on stage.

As Booth neared the Presidential Box, Charles Forbes, a personal assistant to the President, stopped him. Booth calmly showed Forbes something, but what exactly is unknown.

He was allowed to pass, where he entered the Presidential Box as quietly as he could and wedged a piece of wood between the door and the wall. This would prevent anyone from entering.

Booth then crept up behind Abraham Lincoln and raised his .44 caliber pistol to the back of the President’s head. He shot at point-blank range, and then sprang toward the front of the box. But before Booth could make good his escape, Major Rathbone sprang from his seat and was able to get a momentary grasp on Booth. Booth began slashing at Rathbone with a large knife he had also carried into the Presidential Box. Major Rathbone received a bone-deep wound to his left arm and fell to the floor, bleeding copiously. Booth was then able to break free. He jumped over the railing of the Presidential Box and landed on the main stage.

In his diary, Booth recorded his thoughts and descriptions of that night. To better illustrate some possible discrepancies among versions of events, these should be examined one claim at a time. Once in the Presidential Box—just before Booth pulled the trigger—he wrote, “I shouted "Sic Semper Tyrannis" (Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants") before I fired.” There are several witnesses that claim not to have heard anything before the shot was fired, including those in the box with the President. One eyewitness, James P. Ferguson, was located in the Dress Circle of the theatre. Ferguson claimed that Booth yelled “Sic Semper Tyrannis” after firing the shot and jumping out of the box.

Therefore, according to Ferguson, it was while on stage that Booth yelled out and not while in the Presidential Box. Another eyewitness confirmed Ferguson’s account. Samuel Koontz also claims to have seen Booth as he was running across the stage, exclaiming "Sic Semper Tyrannis.”

Booth then made the claim, “in jumping broke my leg” when he leaped from the Presidential Box to the stage. But did he? This claim by Booth is also different from what eyewitnesses’ saw. The first witness, Lieutenant A.M.S. Crawford of the Volunteer Reserve Corps, was also seated in the Dress Circle part of the theatre. Crawford stated that on the night of the assassination, “I saw him [Booth] as he ran across the stage.” Actor Harry Hawk, who was on the stage when Booth jumped, observed Booth, “as he was rushing towards me with a dagger” in his hand. There were other people in the theatre that night who also claim to have seen Booth run, not limp, across the stage. These witnesses included William Withers, Sheldon P. McIntyre, John Downing Jr, Dr. Charles Sabin Taft, Major General B.F. Butler and Samuel Koontz, who was mentioned above. These people made statements that, after landing on the stage, John Wilkes Booth ran out of the theatre. None of them described Booth limping or seeming to be in the slightest bit of pain.

First Eyewitness Accounts
The first eyewitness accounts of Lincoln’s assassination are considered to be the most
accurate as they were taken while still fresh in people’s memories. I have isolated the
accounts focusing on Booth’s reaction after he jumped to the stage. Thirteen people described
Booth as either running or rushing for the exit. Some even stated that he sprang to his
feet after jumping to the stage. Others said he “came across the stage” or “fled behind the


Lieutenant A.M.S Crawford – “I saw him as he RAN across the stage”
Harry Hawk – “as he was RUSHING towards me with a dagger”
James P. Ferguson – “as he came across the stage”
Basset – “RAN across the stage”
Edwin Bates – “RUSHED RAPIDLY across the stage”
Frederick A. Sawyer – “RAN with lightning speed across the stage”
Jason S. Knox – “RUSHED across the stage”
Harry Hawk (in a letter to his parents) – “RAN towards me”
Helen DuBarry – “as he crossed the stage”
Julie Adeline Shepherd – “RUSHES through the scenery”
Spencer Bronson – “and RAPIDLY left the stage”
Major General Butler – “RAN to the opposite side of the stage”
Dr. Charles Sabin Taft – “Springing quickly to his feet with the suppleness of an                                                         athlete,” “RAPID stage stride”
Samuel Koontz – “RUNNING across the stage”
John Downing Jr. – “striding across the stage”
G.B. Todd – “fled behind the scenes”
Sheldon P. McIntyre – “SPRANG to his feet," “RAN across the stage” 

The account of the man who held Booth’s horse outside the back door to Ford’s Theatre should be examined as well. His name was Joseph “Peanuts” Burroughs, and he was a stagehand at Ford’s Theatre. Ned Spangler, another stagehand and one of the men involved in the plan to kill the President, gave him the job of holding Booth’s horse. Spangler was later arrested and charged with conspiracy. Initially, Spangler held Booth’s horse but was called to do some work during the play. Spangler asked Burroughs to take over holding the horse. “Peanuts” Burroughs stated that, as Booth came racing out the back door of the theatre “he struck me with the butt of a knife, and knocked me down. He did this as he was mounting his horse, with one foot in the stirrup.”

While Burroughs did not mention which leg Booth placed in the stirrup, one has to assume he mounted his horse on the left side, which would require Booth to use his left leg. Had Booth actually broken his left leg in the theatre as he claimed, he would not have been able to use his left leg to hoist himself into the saddle. Nowhere in Burroughs’s statement is the claim made that Booth appeared to be in pain when mounting his horse. Mary Jane Anderson lived behind Ford’s Theatre and was looking out the window and had a clear view of the back alley of Ford’s Theatre, said in her statement on May 16, 1865, “I saw Booth come out of the door with something in his hand, glittering. He came out of the theatre so quick that it seemed as if he but touched the horse and it was gone like a flash of lighting.” Both Burroughs and Anderson gave a description of someone who appeared to be in no sort of discomfort whatsoever, much less a person with a broken leg.

Author and historian Michael W. Kauffman noted in his book American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies that “almost all eyewitnesses at Ford’s reported seeing Booth crouch or stagger… but they noticed no sign of pain, in movement or expression.” Sergeant Silas Cobb, who was placed in charge of guarding the Navy Yard Bridge that led out of Washington toward Virginia, confirmed the previous eyewitness accounts when he said that he did not notice Booth to be in any type of discomfort when he crossed the bridge. So if Booth did not break his leg at the theatre, when exactly did he?

As Booth made his way across the Navy Yard Bridge, his fellow co-conspirator, David Herold, crossed shortly after Booth without any trouble from Sergeant Cobb. The plan Booth made was to meet up with his fellow conspirators just outside Washington and ride south into Virginia, where he thought he would be safe. However, due to unforeseen problems, Booth would not be able to make the distances he so badly wanted.
Once David Herold was over the Navy Yard Bridge he continued to riding south into Maryland, where he met up with John Wilkes Booth. At this time, according to Herold, Booth said: “that his horse had fallen or he was thrown off, and his ankle sprained.” To back up what Booth told Herold, when the two men arrived at John M. Lloyd’s house at Surrattsville in Prince George County Maryland, where they were supposed to pick up supplies that were left for them, Booth told Lloyd that he broke his leg when his horse fell. Lloyd stated he “seemed to be in great pain.” Lloyd also mentioned that Booth did not dismount, unlike Herold, who was the one that knocked on his door to wake him. Just before Booth and Herold rode off, Booth said to Lloyd “we have killed President Lincoln and Secretary Seward.”

Booth and Herold then went looking for a doctor to tend to Booth’s injured leg. Booth wrote in his diary that he “rode sixty miles that night, with the bones of my leg tearing the flesh at every jump.” The doctor the two men were looking for was Dr. Samuel Mudd, who was about thirty miles away, not sixty as Booth claimed. When the two men arrived at the Mudd farm in Charles County, Maryland, it was around four o'clock in the morning on April 15th. Herold dismounted and knocked loudly on the doctor’s front door. When Dr. Mudd answered, he observed the two men, who he claimed appeared to be in distress and in need of assistance.

Mudd then invited the men in and had the injured one lie on the sofa in the parlor; when Dr. Mudd later retold this story, he claimed not to have known either man. Dr. Mudd, in his statement of May 16th, 1865, described Booth’s leg “as slight a breaking as it could possibly be.” The doctor continued on and said, “the patient complained also of a pain in his back.” Although Mudd examined Booth, he could see no reason for his back pain “unless it might have been in consequence of his falling from, his horse, as he said he had done.” This was one of the few times Booth told the truth and if Booth did in fact have a slight back injury, it backs up the claim he did, in fact, fall from his horse.

When Dr. Mudd finished setting Booth’s fractured fibula (broken left leg, per Booth's diary), he allowed him to rest in an upstairs bedroom where Booth would have some privacy. Dr. Mudd then gave instructions to his hired help to care for the two horses. It was the statement of one of the farmhands, Thomas Davis, which helps back up the claim of an accident with the horse. Thomas Davis noticed that one horse “had been hurt; his shoulder was swelled right smart.”

Davis also said the small bay had a “piece of skin off on the inside of the left foreleg about as big as a silver dollar.” Another comment Davis made was that Mrs. Mudd told him the injured man had fallen from his horse in Beantown and would be on their way now that Dr. Mudd fixed him up.

It seems very possible from what has been presented above that what we all assumed to know about the events following Booth’s shooting of President Lincoln could be, in fact, wrong. From middle school onward, we have read about John Wilkes Booth jumping from the President’s Box at Ford’s Theatre and allegedly breaking his leg. Could it be that history has been presented to us incorrectly? As time passes, more information and theories continue to be brought forward. To the best of my ability, I have tried to avoid giving wild speculation about Booth. I have simply examined what people of the time said, including Booth. However, what would be the point of Booth claiming he broke his leg in the Theater if, in fact, he broke it when he fell from his horse? One reason would be because of the embarrassment Booth felt from falling. Can one imagine the humiliation Booth would have felt if people would have known the famous assassin of the “tyrant” Lincoln had fallen off his horse? I think Booth felt it sounded a lot more heroic when he made the claim “in jumping, broke my leg” after shooting Lincoln.

This is what is considered to be solid evidence that Booth did not break his leg at Ford’s Theatre, but while he was riding to meet up with his fellow conspirator, David Herold, when his horse fell. Also, Booth did have a small broken bone in his left leg and complained to Dr. Mudd that not only was his leg injured, but so was his back.

This is consistent with a riding accident. Additionally, the story of the fall from the horse was told to more than one person, including Herold. There is also a confirmed report of an injured horse. Booth would have no reason to lie at this point, and with the statements above, it seems we now have the true way John Wilkes Booth broke his leg.
Dr. Samuel Mudd claimed not to recognize the two men who appeared at his home the morning of April 15, 1865.

On their escape from Washington, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold arrived at Mudd's house at about 4 o'colck on the morning of April 15, 1865. Mudd used his medical kit to treat Booth's broken leg and allowed the two men to sleep in his home. He later told investigators that he did not recognize Booth, although they met numerous times before.

Mudd's medical kit, as well as Booth's boot and spur found in Mudd's house, became evidence in the trial of Mudd and seven other conspirators. The military tribunal convicted Mudd, sentencing him to life in prison at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas (a small group of islands, located in the Gulf of Mexico) at the end of the Florida Keys. Mudd was handcuffed and shackled for the journey there.

In 1867 there was an outbreak of yellow fever at the prison. When the prison doctor died, Mudd took over the position, halting the spread of the disease. In 1869 President Andrew Johnson pardoned Mudd, Edman Spangler, and Samuel Arnold.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

What Were President Abraham Lincoln's Last Words?

Rumors of President Lincoln's last words spoken in Ford's Theatre led to consulting the experts at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Springfield, Illinois
President Abraham Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater, Washington DC, April 1865.

Abraham Lincoln’s last words have been the subject of debate among scholars for well over a century. The 16th president of the United States was shot on April 14, 1865, and died on the 15th. He was shot by Confederate sympathizer and stage actor John Wilkes Booth while sitting in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Reportedly, Lincoln’s “likely last words” were published as: “We will visit the Holy Land, and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior. There is no city on earth I so much desire to see as Jerusalem.

It would be difficult to confirm the last words of someone who died over 155 years ago, to say the least. In order to establish authenticity, we would need to see official records that left no doubt of their genuine nature. Unfortunately, no solid evidence exists in the case of Abraham Lincoln. However, this does not mean that no records exist at all.

We consulted about the former president’s last words with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Lincoln was born in Kentucky, but he began his political career in Illinois. He also met his future wife, Mary Todd (marriage), in the Prairie State.

Christian McWhirter is a Lincoln historian at the museum. We asked him about the “Holy Land” quote. He told us that the quote “originates from an unpublished 1882 manuscript by the Rev. Noyes Miner, a Springfield neighbor, and friend of the Lincolns.” The manuscript resides in the museum’s collection.
The two sentences are actually lifted from two different parts of the same paragraph, in which Miner discusses things Mary Lincoln (life history) has told him about her husband’s plans for his post-presidential life. The first part about the “Holy Land” is from a more general description and the second sentence is actually paraphrased in the quote.

Miner’s actual quote reads: “He was saying there was no city on Earth he so much desired to see as Jerusalem; and with that word half spoken on his tongue, the bullet from the pistol of the [assassin] entered his brain.

Many Lincoln scholars, however, are skeptical of this story. That it first appeared almost two decades after the fact and at least three steps removed from the source provides some reason for doubt. It also seems like an odd thing to say in the middle of enjoying a stage comedy.

More likely, Lincoln conveyed these sentiments during a better-documented carriage ride with Mary earlier that day, during which Mary herself recalls he was especially cheerful and spoke of their future.
In fact, Lincoln’s last words can’t be confirmed with certainty but there is a more reliable account from another Springfield friend, Dr. Anson Henry, who wrote on April 19, 1865 (only 4 days after Lincoln died):
She [Mary] sat close to him and was leaning on his lap looking up at his face when the fatal shot was fired, his last words being in answer to her question ‘What will Miss Harris [one of their guests in the presidential box] think of my hanging on to you so?’—’She won’t think anything about it.'
McWhirter said that this is still secondhand and should be handled with care. However, he continued, it is close enough to the event and the people involved that it can be said that Lincoln likely said it during the play, possibly as his last words.

Lincoln’s last words will likely be debated forever without coming to a definitive answer.

By Jordan Liles
Edited by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.