139 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln was shot while watching a play at Ford’s Theatre on Good Friday. He died at 7:22 the following morning across the street at a boarding house owned by William and Anna Petersen. See the Abraham Lincoln Online website for historical details. In today’s Wall St. Journal, Richard Carwardine of Oxford University offers a short but fitting tribute to the savior of the American union. Entitled
"Lincoln Through British Eyes", the article is a reflection on Lincoln’s greatness by a historian who will receive the coveted Lincoln Prize tonight for his recent biography, Lincoln (Pearson-Longman 2003), which garners him $30,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ life-size bust, "Lincoln the Man."
The article closes with praise for one of Lincoln’s greatest biographers, Lord Charnwood, and a fitting summation of Lincoln’s self-understanding:
Charnwood was right: Lincoln was a genuinely great statesman, a talented politician who exceeded expectations in rising to the challenge he faced. His tenacity, patience, humanity, shrewdness in personal dealings, and unblinking focus on essentials more than offset his inefficient, unbusinesslike ways. Convinced that the Union had to be saved, and sure that slavery’s days were numbered, Lincoln seized what he judged his historic moment as the instrument of providential purpose.