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1865 April 22: Secretary Seward Stabbed

April 23, 2015

The following comes from the April 22, 1865, issue of The Prescott Journal—the first issue published since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.  The article was covered on the right-hand side by a piece of paper when it was microfilmed so some of the words are missing, indicated by [__].

Secretary Seward Stabbed.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN is dead !—[vic]tim of a murder “most foul, [strange] and unnatural.”¹  While in the z[enith of] his fame, just entering into the [_] of his labors, the centre of the [_] gaze of all the world,—he has [_] the murderous hand of a devil in[_.]

On the evening of Friday, th[e 14th] inst., he was shot in his private [box in] Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, [and ex]pired on the morning of the ne[xt day].  At the same hour Secretary Sew[ard was] stabbed in his bed [William H. Seward, Sr.], and his s[on] FRED. SEWARD [Frederick W. Seward], Assistant Secretary of State, was dangerously and p[erhaps?] mortally wounded.  It is hoped [that the] Secretary will recover.  The as[sassin of] the President was J. Wilkes B[ooth, an] actor of dissolute character, and copperhead principles.


These articles came from the April 22, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.


When the excitement at the theatre was at the wildest height, reports were circulated that Secretary Seward had also been assassinated, on reaching Secretary Seward’s residence a crowd and a military guard were around its door, and on entering it was ascertained that the reports were based on truth.

Everybody there was so excited that scarcely an intelligent word could be gathered, but the facts are substantially as follows.

About 10 o’clock, a man rang a bell and the call having been answered by a colored servant he said he had come from Dr. Viede, Secretary Seward’s family physician with a prescription for the Secretary, at the same time held in his hand a small folded paper, saying in answer to a refusal that he must see the Secretary as he was entrusted with particular instructions concerning the medicine.

f-seward fight

Frederick Seward fighting with the assassin¹

He insisted on going up although respectfully informed that no one could enter the champer [sic: chamber].  He pushed the servant aside and walked heavily towards the Secretary’s room.

He was there met by Fred Seward, of whom he demanded to see the Secretary, making the same representations which he did to the servant.

What further passed in the way of colloquy is not known, but the man struck him on the head with a billy severely injuring the skull and felling him almost senseless.

The assassin then rushed into the chamber and attacked Mr. Seward, the Paymaster U. S. A., Mr. Hausel, a messanger of the State Department and two male nurses, disabling them.

He then rushed upon the Secretary who was lying in the bed in the same room, and inflicted three stabs in the neck.  He bled profusely.

The assassin rushed down stairs, mounted a horse at the door and was off before an alarm could be sounded in the same manner as the assassin of the President had done.

NEW YORK, April 18.

The latest dispatches representing Secretary Seward as improving.  Booth has not yet been arrested.

The Washington Intelligencer thinks the murder of the President is the result of a conspiracy, which included not only Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward, but the Vice President and all the members of the Cabinet.  It gives interesting incidents which lead to this conclusion.  The arrest of suspected parties in New York is announced.

Quietness seems to be restored, and matters throughout the country are resuming their wonted firmness and tranquility.

WASHINGTON, April 17, 1865.


Brig Gen. H. H. Sibley.

By direction of the President of the United States, the War Department will be closed on Wednesday next, the day of the funeral of the late President of the United States.  Labor on that day will be suspended at military posts and on all public works under the direction of the War Department ;  the flags at all military posts, stations, forts, buildings and vessels, will be kept at half mast during the day, and at 12 o’clock meridian twenty-one minute-guns will be fired from forts, and all military posts and at the military academies.

1.  One of several illustrations of the attempt on Secretary Seward’s life that appeared in the April 22, 1865, issue of the National Police Gazette. This digital image is from the website “Mr. Lincoln’s White House” [viewed April 22, 2015].

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