Learning Lincoln On-line
Readings to Learn about Abraham Lincoln while in Springfield (HOME PAGE) On-Line Hunt-a-Puzzle
PRESIDENT-ELECT LINCOLN SNEAKS INTO WASHINGTON; PLOT TO ASSASSINATE HIM IS REVEALED TO HIM BY ALLAN PINKERTON
Mr. Lincoln to the late Benson J. Lossing, early in December 1861: an "oral" narrative of the affair:
"I arrived at Philadelphia on the 21st. I agreed to stop overnight, and on the following morning hoist the flag over Independence Hall. In the evening there was a great crowd where I received my friends, at the Continental Hotel. Mr. Judd, a warm personal friend from Chicago, sent for me to come to his room. I went, and found there Mr. Pinkerton, a skilful police detective, also from Chicago, who had been employed for some days in Baltimore watching or searching for suspicious persons there. Pinkerton informed me that a plan had been laid for my assassination, the exact time when I expected to go through Baltimore being publicly known. He was well informed as to the plan, but did not know that the conspirators would have pluck enough to execute it. He urged me to go right through with him to Washington that night. I didn't like that. I had made engagements to visit Harrisburg and go from there to Baltimore, and I resolved to do so. I could not believe that there was a plot to murder me. I made arrangements, however, with Mr. Judd for my return to Philadelphia the next night, if I should be convinced that there was danger in going through Baltimore. I told him that if I should meet at Harrisburg, as I had at other places, a delegation to go with me to the next place (then Baltimore), I should feel safe and go on. When I was making my way back to my room, through crowds of people, I met Frederick Seward. We went together to my room, when he told me that he had been sent, at the instance of his father and General Scott, to inform me that their detectives in Baltimore had discovered a plot there to assassinate me. They knew nothing of Pinkerton's movements. I now believed such a plot to be in existence. The next morning I raised the flag over Independence Hall, and then went on to Harrisburg with Mr. Sumner, Major, now General, Mr. Judd, Mr. Lamon, and others. There I met the legislature and people, dined, and waited until the time appointed for me to leave (six o'clock in the evening). In the mean time Mr. Judd had so secured the telegraph that no communication could pass to Baltimore and give the conspirators knowledge of a change in my plans. In New York some friend had given me a new beaver hat, in a box, and in it had placed a soft wool hat. I had never worn one of the latter in my life. I had this box in my room. Having informed a very few friends of the secret of my new movements, and the cause, I put on an old overcoat that I had with me, and, putting the soft hat in my pocket, I walked out of the house at a back door, bareheaded, without exciting any special curiosity. Then I put on the soft hat and joined my friends without being recognized by strangers, for I was not the same man. Sumner and Hunter wished to accompany me. I said, "No; you are known, and your presence might betray me. I will only take Lamon [afterwards marshal of the District of Columbia, whom nobody knew] and Mr. Judd." Sumner and Hunter felt hurt. We went back to Philadelphia, and found a message there from Pinkerton [who had returned to Baltimore] that the conspirators had held their final meeting that evening, and it was doubtful whether they had nerve enough to attempt the execution of their purpose. I went on, however, as the arrangement had been made, in a special train. We were a long time in the station at Baltimore. I heard people talking around, but no one particularly observed me. At an early hour on Saturday morning [Feb. 23], at about the time I was expected to leave Harrisburg, I arrived in Washington." Mr. Lincoln was received at the railway station by Mr. Washburne, member of Congress from Illinois, and taken to Willard's Hotel."