This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.
WNYC announcer introduces program.
Van Doren introduces Bishop, who talks about his book "The Day Lincoln was Shot" and the day Lincoln was shot.
Van Doren introduces Carmer, who talks about his book "The Susquehanna."
Van Doren introduces Ward, who talks about her book "Faith and Freedom."
WNYC announcer closes the program.
Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection
WNYC archives id: 71202
Municipal archives id: LT7299
This is a machine-generated transcript. Text is unformatted and may contain errors.
Your study station brings you the fourth in the current eighteenth annual season of book and author luncheons co-sponsored by the New York Herald Tribune and the American Booksellers Association these luncheons are presided over by I read have endorsed literary editor of the tribunal and feature three well known authors on each program today's guest authors are Bob reward young British economist and journalist and author of the recently published Faith and Freedom Jim Bishop author of the bestselling the day Lincoln was shot a recreation of the last day in Lincoln's life and Karl Carver general editor of the Rivers of America books and author of the forty eighth volume in the series here now to introduce today's speakers is our mistress of ceremonies Mr Pandora the first speaker today is Jim Bishop. I can imagine a certain lack of enthusiasm in your reception of the news that another book about Lincoln was awaiting your attention Mr Bishop Cheyanne your feeling I believe after all I've been more than three thousand books at least on Lincoln. But he says that there has been no time within conscious memory when he hasn't been interested in Lincoln he was nine years old in a New Jersey for Oak Hill School when you got his first conception of the president as a great sound man with a beard who tried to keep brothers from killing each other and was himself killed. His interest continued and a big part of his first small salary as a report on The Daily Mirror went to buy a house and begs for volumes in the Abraham Lincoln the well yes he read everything about Lincoln that he could come back and it gradually dawned on him that no two stories of the assassination agreed in no particular. So he determined some day to make clear just what had happened on that April fourteenth eighteen sixty five. He began keeping notebooks each marked with an hour of the day there were three extra ones labeled the conspirators the Lincoln family and Washington City. For a number of years and everything he came across that seemed pregnant to any one of these hours all subjects was entered in the proper book The insanity of material went on while he carried on his newspaper work his writing even he published a mock Helen just story and a couple of other books took a brief turn at local politics and was beaten he says and worked it is a job as executive editor of the Catholic digest thousands of separate items went into the new products and gradually they became thoughtful and voted the picture began doing very much as small facts did and filled out the missing bits of the puzzle the weather the people the hour about our work of the president that day and the members of his cabinet and the movements of John Wilkes Booth. The time came when Mr Bishop felt that he had a dramatic consecutive story to tell then he went to Washington for the concentrated research that was necessary to finish the job and now it is done. Mr Bishop is not an historian as he himself said but he's a good journalist and in telling the story of the last day of Lincoln's life he has managed to assemble immutable details in a way that gives it a heartening minute to minute. If he presents no new material but in deftly setting forth the facts as they occurred throughout the city promoting tonight in boarding houses cars Villas the White House on streets in stable he builds up the cumulative heart of that relentless march of the dance. However familiar maybe with the story I think you will read Mr Bishop's account of that fateful day with monkey excitement I'm glad to introduce to you the author of the day Lincoln was shot Jim Bishop. I'm. President or on the floor of Mr karma distinguished guest ladies and gentlemen of the. Masters Van Doren and I have entered into a conspiracy to keep from selling this book. In a matter of a few minutes I'm going to try to create a good part of that day for you so that there won't be necessarily by the book at all. If I have omitted only part of that you can make me a lobby afterwards after. Every fourteen eighteen sixty five. Years advance. Study missed from the East the president got out of bed late seven A.M.. It was an hour before Mrs Lincoln would have breakfast ready and so he walked from his bedroom down the corridor or to his office but it was always a pretty sad journey because the fall was full of favor seekers. These men don't want to Perot's for prisoners these men want to death sentences canceled because man one of the Postmaster ships in the south the president got through this line and into his office and sat reading the morning newspapers. Who is very fond of saying he didn't read morning newspapers because he could not answer the challenges and the attacks which he read in them but in this small saying he said because he didn't read the newspapers and I read I only had breakfast with Mrs Lincoln with Ted with Robert who was back from the front. Robert gave him my large list a graph of General Robert E. Lee and the president looked at it studied it for quite some time and said it's a good face I'm glad the war was over and this was a day when the civil war could be referred to the first time as being in the past tense. On this morning the president had many appointments some of them with congressmen one of them with the speaker of the house several of them with old friends from Illinois. And the other side of town at the National Hotel sixty eight and Pennsylvania Avenue was. At eight am John Wilkes Booth had finished getting a share going to barber shop college just groups he walked through the lobby strutting as a matinee idol should being pointed out as a successful and very handsome actor. He had no notion that this was to be a day of assassination. The plot which he had engineered was a small band of what can only be described as net which had been a By ends after two unsuccessful attempts to kidnap the president. And it wasn't until eleven thirty A.M. when John Wilkes Booth went to Ford's Theater for his mail that he heard that Mr and Mrs Lincoln would be out to see it that night and the plot was then regenerated. Reactivated. And it was then that he went into the theater to watch a rehearsal of our American cousin and sitting watching the rehearsal he realized that the best time to shoot the President would be an act three SCENE two when only one actor or it was on the stage at that point Howard Hawks would be the actor two women would have just left the stage and he knew that if the program started promptly at eight o'clock that this scene should take place at or about ten fifteen P.M. Meanwhile back at the White House the president had a cabinet meeting that was to be his last but he didn't know it was perhaps the happiest cabinet meeting of the war he brought the members of the cabinet together to discuss the peace reconstruction of the self he was a man of mercy and he wanted to see the merciful ideas integrated on that day when he was clearly in peace and not for calling the Congress into special session to put through a harsh priest the only unhappy note of the whole morning three hour cabinet meeting was when General Grant said that he had a message from his wife that he would not be able to attend the theater that night that his that Mrs Grant wanted to get back to Burlington New Jersey to see their children in the early afternoon hours John Wilkes Booth had a chance to see his conspirators he saw George as a rod. Was a common drunk from Port tobacco Maryland a farrier of. Confederate spies a sad little man of whom it was once said he was not easily insulted a coward his task was to murder the vice president of the United States and he Johnson both know that he wouldn't do it absent I don't know that he wouldn't do it but Axelrod would go through the motions of getting a room and cart would house where the vice president was and stashing away big guns and larger knives and pretend to go through the motions but he knew that when ten fifteen came he would just be very drunk and David Harrell another conspirator was in his early twenties a victim of a matriarchal world he had seven sisters he rebelled against this with all his might when he try to grow a mustache that made fun of him. And so he was led into any plot that sounded manly and strong and brave. He would hold the horses in front of secretary of state stewards house that night and what was Payne the big cipher a man of muscles and no intellect a man who had been wounded at Gettysburg in a Confederate uniform. A man who knew only that he worshipped or not going in John Wilkes Booth and would do anything he asked these were the plotters. So the afternoon went on and at five P.M. Mrs Lincoln said to the President are you ready to go for a drive and he said yes she said Would you like to bring some friends along she thought it would cheer him up he said No no mother just you went on. And I went for those cars driving for awhile it was fairly clear in Washington and I went down to the Navy Yard bridge and the president walked on my boat called him on talking came off again and in the drive he held her hand under a carriage road when he said you know I never felt so happy in all my life. And Mrs Lincoln said in some alarm father don't you remember you felt just so when our well he died. But he was happy and he had a right to be the war was done a victory which here is the union was solidified again against its will of course but mercy and love would bring the south back to sync with the North. And that evening after two more appointments he told a congressman that he did not want to go to the city other he talked more than that he was exhausted. But that ten minutes passed by Mrs Lincoln put her head inside the office and said Would you have us be late when he got his hat he washed his hand. And he went to the theater. And as company instead of general Mrs Grant had young Clara Harris from a giraffe and you can't help but think of how it was almost an exaggeration of tragedy that the four people in that carriage that night would never be. President was to be assassinated in a matter of two hours Mrs Lincoln would spend some time in a sanitarium for the disordered mind Clara Harris would be murdered in Berlin by her husband who would spend the rest of his days and then send us on. Those were the four people. I got to the theater and once again a rather rare thing for the president he held his wife's hand and she said somewhat quietly What will Mr Harris thank you. And he leaned over and whispered to her and said she will think nothing of it. And at the proper moment the assassin fame into the box with all the time in the world because before onlookers were looking away from him towards day. And he held the little brass bearings are behind the President's head somewhere midway between the left ear and this find any gold a treasure explosion wasn't much somewhat like blowing up a brown paper bag and getting it there was a laugh at that particular moment in the play and so not many people heard it. But a great many saw the huge percentage of my mother blew smoke in the pot. And both God's Will did not jump to the stage from the edge he climbed over the ledge on after a short flight with a direct phone and lowered himself toward the stage and then dropped and taking his WHAT away from the box his other what the right one became entangled in the folds of the Treasury regimental flag and I followed him in tatters to his date and he landed on the left one and broke it just above the metal. He did so used except for trouble if he did so far as my research shows sorry revenge for the South not loudly not dramatically as you might expect a good actor just sad but almost as though he had rehearsed the lines so many times to be forgot to give nuance and drama to them and he didn't get out in the back of Ford's Theater thanks check the little boy Johnny peanuts who was holding the bridle of his mare if you dared jump on the horse and drag the left leg across the saddle and speed up to the Navy Yard bridge in southern Maryland. And back at the theater it was to say or do you have young Dr Charles the leader who worshipped above all other people Abraham Lincoln. It was his duty to go into the box and take the first casual medical plan such as man and so you cannot pull. And he held his head while I fought their way through the crowds across the street to the Peterson house and in the long night in that little room there were many people were eight men and small men who came there. Perhaps to say farewell and Mrs Lincoln beyond any doubt sat in the parlor and looked into the cold great most of the night not thinking that her husband would die. And in the morning. SECRETARY Well one up for a walk and saw in the dawn light Negroes standing in mops keeping a death watch at seven twenty two when the president. Mrs Lincoln screamed or why did you not tell me if you would not. And when she was taken out of Peterson's house if you look across the carriage which was waiting in front for a Ford's Theater and she shook her held head wildly and said oh that dreadful house I took her home and a little later they took the president home in a carriage and so it was not courses through that carriage to the White House and when I got there Secretary Wells came indoors and he stood for a moment looking across the court or the White House to the opposite side of Pennsylvania Avenue. And there were appalling poor people in the colored people standing in a driving rain. Watching the carriage which held this great man for the final time. Secretary Wells came indoors and she dropped the office that looked up the stairs and saw a little telling thing coming downstairs. The little boy moved me a great deal when he said very gravely I want a great deal of the military Mr Wells who killed my father. Thank you. I've. And don't let Mr Bishop tell you that you needn't read the book because of the high spots in the Hall of Presidents. When you mention Karl karmas name in almost any group of people their first reaction is apt to be these days oh yes he lives in that like you know house at Evanston on the hood. Then they are out to associate him as a write up first with the Stars fellow and I would buy a book which came out twenty years ago whose title in an amazing way caught the imagination of the American people when they think of him as a folklorist of his telling of tales and singing of song. Later they remember his grounds along with mobile these are high spots along the way of a visit and buried really he's written other books of York State law also a number of children's books five of them charmingly illustrated by his wife Elizabeth Connell he's taught not believe since he found that he could write. He's worked on radio at one time he had his own folklore program. Having been a lieutenant of field artillery in the F