Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Curse of the Lincoln Assassination

The assassination of President Lincoln is perhaps the most famous assassination in not only American, but World History. But a curse? How? Because of Lincoln's premonition of his own funeral? Not at all this curse actually gets its start after Lincoln died. Who could be affected by such a curse? The Booth Family? The Lincoln Family? America!? The answer is, well pretty much anyone involved with Lincoln the night he was killed.

So as I said, pretty much every person involved with Lincoln that April night in 1865 was affected by the curse. The closet related would be Lincoln's wife Mary, son Robert, their guest Henry and Clara Rathbone, a boarding house owner, two Senators, Booth's killer and the owner of Ford's Theater. Let's piece this puzzle together and figure how the curse would plague all those around the death of Abraham Lincoln.

 "Here she is, Miss America!' Ok, maybe not but Mrs. Lincoln was a close second. It is no secret that Mary Todd Lincoln was always a bit...well, off. But after seeing her husband killed she really went off the deep end. She wore nothing but black clothes for the rest of her life, mourning the loss of Abe as if she was an old Italian women. However, Mary still would purchase regular color clothes and would go on shopping sprees as if she had money to burn. The only odd thing about this is no one ever saw her dressed in these clothes or see her use the items she purchased. Her son Robert was constantly worried about his mother committing suicide, so he did what any good son would do and put her in a HOME! Ok, so she wasn't put in Shady Pines but she was put in a psychiatric hospital but would eventually be released to her sister, whose home she died in a few years later.

 On this list Mary Todd Lincoln is the only one who really gets off easy from the curse. The curse really started to get into full swing with Major Henry Rathbone and his wife Clara Harris who weren't even supposed to be with the Lincolns that April 14th night.The Rathbone's were not the first couple invited to watch My American Cousin with the Lincoln's in their VIP booth. During the assassination Henry was stabbed by Booth as he made his get away, and I am sure he and his family wishes that all they could say happened to them due to the curse. In 1883, Henry was U.S. Consul in Germany. He like Mary Todd, was beginning to lose it. A week before Christmas he would murder his wife and three children before attempting suicide. He would survive and spend the rest of his life in an asylum for the criminally insane where he would die.

After Lincoln was shot he was taken across the street to William Petersen's home. It was there that Lincoln would die. Peterson would die a few years later from an overdose of laudanum. It is still a mystery how he overdosed from this and some historians think that it may have not been an accident but done purposefully. The Petersen's loses were not over yet, as Mrs. Petersen would meet her husband in the great beyond four months later. As for other homeowners affected by the curse I must included Mary Surrat. Surratt owner the boarding house were Booth and his comrades planned originally to kidnap Lincoln but evolved into killing him. After the killing, Surratt was taken in with the other conspirators, tried and hung. She should have been set free due to lack of evidence, but was stopped by hold on to your hats, Senators Preston King and James H. Lane.

Senators Preston King (left) and James H. Lane (right) were members of the first Secret Service and in charge of guarding President Andrew Johnson from hearing pleas to free the Lincoln conspirators. Both men died...well killed themselves less than a year after the hanging of the conspirators Senator Lane ended his life with a gunshot to the head one year to the date of the hanging of the conspirators. Senator King ended his life in New York Harbor. While traveling on a ferry he tied a bag of lead bullets around his neck, jumped over board and sunk to the bottom of the Hudson. Both men just another notch marker on the curses belt, bringing the total to eight.

"Boston" Corbett or better known to history as the man who found and killed John Wilkes Booth. Corbett was a complete nut. The guy castrated himself so he wouldn't give into the temptation of sleeping with prostitutes. Now calling Corbett a religious fanatic but something like that is taking it to a whole new level. But most say he became crazy due to exposer to mercury when he worked as a hat marker. Later in life Corbett was working in the Kansas House of Representatives. While working one day he overheard some mocking the prayer said before a meeting so he threatened ti kill him. It wasn't too long before Corbett was locked away. He would escape and never be heard or seen of again. It is believed that he died during the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894 in Hinckley, Minnesota.

 This curse shows no mercy, not even Ford's theater was safe from its wrath. After the assassination, the U.S. Government purchased the theater from its owner John Ford. The government then turned it into a memorial for Lincoln. It forbade any and all forms of entertainment inside its walls. The building then served as a records warehouse and offices. However, in 1893 the curse struck. A wall collapsed and killed 22 clerks and injured a few others. Even the building had a blood lust that needed to be satisfied. But there is one man affected by the curse more than anyone else. Someone who wouldn't mysterious die, commit suicide or have something harmful happen to himself, but the curse would attack him by making him part of the death of two other Presidents.

 Honest Abe's son Robert was the most affected by this curse. He was lost his father, saw his mother's metal breakdown and saw the downfall of so many others. But the curse would strike him in an odd series of coincidences. He was Secretary of War in President James Garfield's cabinet. While awaiting the arrival of a train in Washington D.C. he saw the President gunned down. In 1901 he was invited to the Pan-American Expo in Buffalo by President William McKinley. It was at this expo that McKinley was also killed by an assassins bullet and Lincoln was right there as witness. After that Lincoln refused any invitation given by a President. The only time he would be near a President was at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial, President Warren G. Harding was literally taking his life into his own hands by standing with Lincoln.

Is the curse real? I highly doubt it, this just seems to be a series of coincidences and odd similar happenings. Sure seeing a person assassinated in front of you will affect your mental health as in the case of Mary Todd Lincoln and perhaps even Henry Rathbone's actions. As for the rest of those attached to this curse there really is no explanations. The death of bordering house owners, a solider, two Senators and the fate of a theater house are all just linked due to their relation to Abraham Lincoln's assassination and that's about it. No curse, no mystery or no weird reach by Lincoln from the afterlife. In the end I think it is just one of those unique parts of history which shows just how interconnected events are. As Lincoln once said, "History is not history unless it is the truth."


  1. more of an "in" for my alternate history blog ( (if you dont mind) but reading your excellent article Mike I was struck by the intriguing idea of a Harding assassination at the Lincoln Memorial?

    1. Hey I don't mind at all. And the assassination would have been highly unlikely but with Robert Lincoln's history it makes for a great what if, you know.

    2. Very interesting!

  2. The grammar and spelling errors in this story are pretty unprofessional. Otherwise very interesting.