Abraham Lincoln's Assassination
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Mr. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant

The gossip around Washington was that the Grants would be attending Our American Cousin with the Lincolns. The Ford family considered it a major coup to have the president and especially the Grants in attendance at their theater. However, shortly after a Cabinet meeting ended at about 2:00 P.M., Grant walked up to President Lincoln and indicated he and Mrs. Grant would be taking the 6:00 P.M. train to visit their children in New Jersey. Thus, they would not be attending the play with the Lincolns.

Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Stanton

Stanton was Lincoln's secretary of war. Mrs. Stanton, similar to Mrs. Grant, did not like Mary Todd Lincoln. The Stantons declined the theater invitation.

Thomas Eckert

Eckert was a telegraph officer in the War Department and known for his strength. Secretary of War Stanton said Eckert couldn't go to the theater because he was needed to stay at work.

Schuyler Colfax

Colfax, of Indiana, was Speaker of the House of Representatives. He turned down the invitation because he was leaving for the Pacific Coast the next morning.

George Ashmun

Ashmun, of Massachusetts, had presided over the 1860 Republican Convention which had nominated Lincoln for president. He turned down the theater invitation on the grounds of a "previous engagement."

Richard J. Oglesby

Oglesby was governor of Illinois. He declined the invitation in order to visit other friends, but he told Lincoln he would be back to see him over the weekend.

Richard Yates

Yates was the ex-governor of Illinois. He excused himself from the invitation because he had other appointments with friends that evening.

General Isham N. Haynie

Haynie, a visitor from Illinois, used the same excuse as Oglesby and Yates had employed.

William A. Howard

Howard was the postmaster of Detroit. He said he had already made arrangements to leave Washington later that day.

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Wallace

Wallace was governor of the Idaho Territory. The couple refused the invitation on the grounds of weariness.

Noah Brooks

Brooks was a reporter who had always been friendly to the Lincoln administration. He said he couldn't go to the theater because he had a cold.

Robert Lincoln

Robert was the Lincolns' eldest son. Author Clara Laughlin interviewed Robert. He said that as his parents were departing for Ford's, his dad said, "We're going to the theater, Bob, don't you want to go?" But, Captain Lincoln (just home from his tour of duty with General Grant) wanted to turn in early that night. Tad Lincoln, then 12, said nobody ever asked him to go. Tad ended up going to see Aladdin or The Wonderful Lamp at Grover's Theatre, a few blocks from Ford's. Tad was at Grover's when his father was shot at Ford's. Tad was taken to the White House and put to bed.
Page 347 of Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography by Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Philip B. Kunhardt III, and Peter W. Kunhardt contains photographs of the people who refused the Lincolns' theater invitation. In the end a young couple, Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris, accepted the invitation.

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