[LINCOLN, ASSASSINATION]. SAWYER, Frederick A. Autograph manuscript signed ("F.A.S."), an eyewitness account of Lincoln's assassination, "Willard's Hotel, Rm. 128, 1 o'clock A.M." (with a later portion dated 1:00 P.M.), Washington D.C., 15 April 1865. 12 pages, 4to, written on versos and rectos of lined paper, minor spotting and a few tape stains at folds, slight nicks to right edges of pages 1 and 2, with original envelope inscribed by Sawyer "Account of what I saw of the death of Mr. Lincoln written April 15 1865."
"HOW MANY MORE MARTYRS TO SLAVERY!": A TWELVE-PAGE EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF THE LINCOLN ASSASSINATION
A particularly vivid, literate account by Sawyer, an eyewitness to the shocking events at Fords Theatre only a few hours before: "I cannot sleep. My mind is so excited by what has occurred tonight. Last night [14 April] Mr. Edwin Bates & myself went to the Theater on 10th St. called 'Ford's Theatre'...We moved forward to the 2nd row of chairs about a third of the way from the stage left. Before we had moved however cheers from the whole house indicated that some distinguished person had entered the house & soon [it] became known that Mr Lincoln & his wife & some two or three other persons had entered the private box which was draped with the American flag."
"The play was 'Our American Cousin,' with Laura Keene...a report of a pistol was heard and a man [Booth] dressed in a black suit leaped onto the stage apparently from the President's box. He held in his right hand a dagger. He did not strike the stage fairly on his feet but appeared to stumble slightly. Quickly recovering himself he ran across the stage and disappeared beyond the scenes on the stage. The whole, the shot, the leap, the escape, was done while you could count eight. The excitement in the house was intense. Everyone leaped to his feet, and the cry of 'The president is assassinated' was heard. Getting where I could see into the President's box, I saw Mrs. Lincoln waving her hands to & fro in apparent anguish. Several parties climbed up into the box, & soon there was an inquiry if there 'was a surgeon in the house.' I repeated it in a loud voice & one answered that he was coming. He ran forward and climbed into the box. What occurred there I do not know I do remember Laura Keene's coming forward & imploring people to be seated, within a minute or two of the shot & the escape. When we got to the door we heard the ticket-taker say that John Wilkes Booth was the man who had done this atrocious act, that Booth had entered the house a short time before; that he knew him well, & that he was the man who had run across the stage. Others said that as he passed across the stage he cried 'sic semper tyrannis,' the motto of the State of Virginia. I cannot say I heard this, the confusion was great the moment the pistol was fired & my first thought was that this was a little scene of the play."
"We left the Theatre and came up to Willards," but at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue heard reports that "Secretary Seward had just had his throat cut" and the Sewards son had been stabbed. Another friend, Mr. Stewart, who was also at Ford's that night, told Sawyer how "on seeing the man jump to the stage he himself leaped on the stage & cried out to the actors to 'stop that man,'" then pursued Booth to the rear entrance in time to see "the man mount a horse which stood about 10 or 15 feet from the door. Mr. Stewart is sure that he can identify the assassin."
"The Excitement in this city is intense... Strong men have wept tonight & the nation will mourn tomorrow...On the same day which has witnessed the raising of the glorious flag of the Republic over the walls of Ft. Sumter, the assassins hand has cut off that man who felt no desire but to bless & serve his country & civilization. To God belongs the punishment of this great crime." Repeating rumors that Grant was to have been at Lincoln's side at the Theater, he exclaims "How many more martyrs to slavery!" At 1:00 P.M., Sawyer returns to his account and adds: "The city is draped in mourning...Little more is known than the newspapers said today;" he extols the virtues of the late President: "no man...can do just what Mr. Lincoln has done," and that he was "most worthy of the trust confided to him by the people to ensure the best interest of humanity...But God leaves so great a work dependant on no one life, no two lives," and, he concludes "nor shall wise heads, true hearts & strong arms be wanting for God's work."