[Written at top:] Please attend a writing schoolW-MCP4-6.064 TO ISAAC B. MCQUESTEN from his brother, Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten
Apr 17 1865
To: Isaac B. McQuesten Upper Canada College, Toronto, C.U. [Upper Canada]
From: 105 East 27th Street, New York
My Dear Brother,
Yours came to hand in an uncommonly short space of time but was very glad to receive it. I will try an [sic] answer it, but there is only one theme on which I can say anything and that to you is of far less account than to me. We are mourning the death of
our President,1 caused by the dastardly hand of the assassin, and instigated by slaveholders whose doom is sealed & whose accursed act will be well meted out to them.
Broadway from below Trinity Church up 17st is completely drapped [sic]. Private houses and stores all over the City are or are being drapped-Black goods suitable for the purpose are most all sold out & orders have been sent out of the City for more. Such a solemn time was never known in this country-there are none but what feel the blow or will feel it-either because he sympathizes with the nation's loss or because the guilty conscience of being allied with the assassin, will not allow him peace.
Justice Will Be Done.
Well am bound to finish this but have not opened a book & hardly seen a sick person these three days. The Newspapers & telegraph offices are all that possess any charm & they are crowded day & night. The churches are all drapped in mourning and sermons were of little account except as they touched on the great calamity.
I go to no parties & see but few besides those of the profession. There are a few among the number who are very pleasant men-from them I learn something and pass time ever profitably. As for the group of Mrs. McQ. [Mrs. Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten]-I do not know where it was taken as there was no name on it, and as I have lost my album could not tell you if there was & the loss of the album is my reason for wanting another. You have told the truth and have found it out, I am glad to see about Father's ideas of doing things & this judgement on all points-I have found it sometime ago.
Send me Miss Hobson's name & address I must have another picture of her. Write me soon & will give some news next time-Will write Father this week about books.
C.B.McQ. [Calvin Brooks McQuesten]
1 The American Civil War began in 1861. In January 1864, Lincoln declared the final proclamation of emancipation of the slaves. In March 1864, Gen. Grant began the final attrition of the Confederate forces that brought peace on April 9, 1865. Abraham Lincoln had been re-elected President in March 1865; he was shot by J. Wilkes Booth, an actor, at Ford's Theatre, on April 14, 1865, and died the next day (CBD 898, CBE 572, W-MCP4-6.065, W-MCP4-6.066).
There is a fascinating connection of Booth with Senator John Parker Hale (1806-1873) and his daughter Lucy. Born in nearby Rochester, John P. Hale is best known as the first avowed Abolitionist Senator in the United States . It is an odd irony that, in the two decades Hale was in the Senate, Dover profited from the manufacture of cotton products that were produced by Southern slave labor. Hale took a solid stand against slavery--a position that earned him enmity from Southern leaders, even a death threat on the Senate floor from a colleague. It also earned Hale a statue in 1892 on the lawn of the state capitol in Concord, NH, where his figure now stands with Daniel Webster, President Franklin Pierce and John Stark.
In another great irony, White House records show that retiring Senator Hale, defeated after 20 years, met with Abraham Lincoln on the morning of the President's assassination. Hale was granted an ambassadorship to Spain, which he had requested partly, it was known, to remove his daughter Lucy from the influence of her new "fiance," an actor named John Wilkes Booth. Booth killed Lincoln that very evening. The Hale's lived out the next few years in Spain, and J.P. Hale returned to Dover with his daughter and died soon after in 1873. http://www.seacoastnh.com/woodman/hale/index.html.
"Mystery surrounds [Booth's] diary. The little book was taken off Booth's body by Colonel Everton Conger. He took it to Washington and gave it to Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the War Department's National Detective Police. Baker in turn gave it to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The book was not produced as evidence in the 1865 Conspiracy Trial. In 1867 the diary was "re-discovered" in a "forgotten" War Department file with 18 pages missing. Over the years there has been endless speculation on those missing pages including rumors that they had surfaced. Nevertheless, they remain officially missing. Two of the pages were torn out by Booth himself and used to write messages to Dr. Richard H. Stewart, or Stuart, on April 24, 1865. To speculate on their contents makes for interesting reading, but it's essentially fruitless as no one knows for sure what the rest of the missing pages may or may not have contained. (Even the exact number of missing pages is disputed. On p. 16 of Beware the People Weeping: Public Opinion and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Thomas Reed Turner it is stated that 36, not 18, diary pages are missing). Booth's diary is on display at Ford's Theatre. For more information on it, see pp. 155-159 in "Right or Wrong, God Judge Me" The Writings of John Wilkes Booth edited by John Rhodehamel and Louise Taper."
J. Dennis Robinson states: Hail Hale, John P. Hale ... We've got to have a long talk about John P. Hale someday. His house is the handsome red brick number next to the Woodman Institute on Central Avenue in Dover. JP was hailed as the nation's first anti-slavery US Senator back in 1846, nearly two decades before President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation "freeing" the slaves. That phrase still has a nice comfortable ring to it. That same year, John Greenleaf, watching his beloved New Hampshire wake up to the slavery issue turned Whittier rhapsodic. He wrote to a friend in 1846: "He [Hale] has succeeded, and his success has broken the spell which has hitherto held Democracy in the embrace of slavery." Collections: By J. Dennis Robinson. http://www.seacoastnh.com/arts/please030198.html.
For more about Lincoln, see Box 04-002a; Box 15-001c.