Tuesday, June 2, 2015

2015 - Small Wellesley Gathering in Boston, April

At the Union Club in Boston, celebrating the 70th birthday of Joan Hass.
 L to R: Mary Shepard, Hannah McClennan, Joan Barkhorn Hass, 
Jolinda K. Taylor, Alice Tepper Marlin. Photo by JT Marlin.
April 13, 2015 - As Hillary Rodham Clinton, Wellesley '69, was announcing her candidacy for President, I accompanied five members of the Class of 1966 at Wellesley.

The class is preparing for its 50th Reunion on June 3-5, 2016.

The first three events were in New York City (my photo), East Hampton, N.Y. and Vero Beach, Fla.

This one was in Boston, Mass., to celebrate the birthday of Joan Barkhorn Hass. The event was held at the Union Club, of which Joan Hass was the first female President, during the 2012-2013 term that included the club's 150th Anniversary year.

Dr. Edward Everett, former President of
Harvard, then the Union Club.
The Union Club was founded in late 1862 by Bostonians who were concerned about the future of the American Union. Article I of the club charter says:
The condition of membership shall be unqualified loyalty to the Constitution and Union of the United States and unwavering support of the federal government in efforts for the suppression of the Rebellion.
The club's first elected president, Dr. Edward Everett, was a man of great distinction - former president of Harvard, Governor of Massachusetts, Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, U.S. Secretary of State and U.S. Senator. The club was formal inaugurated on April 9, 1863 and Everett made a lengthy speech for the Union.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Two years later, to the day, Confederate General Lee surrendered his huge Army of Northern Virginia, which had been surrounded by Union General Ulysses S. Grant, at the Court House in Appomattox, Virginia. This made inevitable total victory by the North in the Civil War, although the war did not end immediately.

John Wilkes Booth - a famed 26-year-old actor who took the side of the Confederacy - was increasingly agitated by the bad news for the South.

He met with six friends to plot how to kidnap the president and abduct him to Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. They fixed a date on March 20, 1865 and lay in wait… but Lincoln failed to appear as he was scheduled.
Lincoln was assassinated five days after Lee's surrender.

Booth’s revised plan, to give hope to those continuing to fight on for the Confederacy, was the assassination of Lincoln,

Booth found out that Lincoln was to attend Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre. Lincoln was in a private box next the stage, with his wife Mary and a young couple - Army Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris (Rathbone’s fiancée, daughter of one of New York’s senators).

Booth entered the box and, at point blank range, fired a single shot (a one-ounce ball) at the back of Lincoln’s head with his .44 Deringer pistol. He then knifed Rathbone, as he was coming toward him, and jumped onto the stage shouting, “Sic semper tyrannis!” (“Thus ever to tyrants!”), the Virginia state motto. Booth broke his leg in the jump. He hobbled out of the theater and escaped on horseback.

The audience at first viewed the assassination as part of the play. Only when Mary screamed did they understand what had happened. A 23-year-old young Army doctor (Dr. Charles A. Leale) rushed to the presidential box and found the president slumped in his chair, in paralysis and struggling to breathe. 

Booth had been recognized and fled with David Herold across the Potomac to Virginia, where he was hunted down to a farmhouse. The soldiers torched it. Herold surrendered. Booth stayed inside until the heat became too intense. When he became visible, a sergeant shot him and Booth lived only three more hours.

Meanwhile, several soldiers carried Lincoln across the street to a red-brick boarding house. Dr. Robert King Stone, the Lincoln family physician, arrived soon in his carriage and pronounced that nothing could be done for Lincoln.

Lincoln had already been suffering from the health effects of being a wartime president. He had fainted two months earlier in an argument with his Attorney General over pardons for desertion.

The president’s body was taken to the White House and was carried to the Capitol rotunda to lay in state. On April 21, the President's body was put on a train to his hometown of Springfield, Ill. Tens of thousands lined the railroad route. Lincoln was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, near Springfield, next his son Willie, who predeceased him.

Four co-conspirators including David Herold were convicted of conspiracy to murder and were hanged for this on July 7, 1865. The four included Mary Surratt, who ran the boarding house where the seven conspirators first met.

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