Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘the Lincoln Assassination’

William Shakespeare as we have come to know him in Martin Droeshout's 1623 engraving for the First Folio

William Shakespeare as we have come to know him in Martin Droeshout's 1623 engraving for the First Folio

Today is William Shakespeare’s 445th birthday. In honor of the occasion, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley wants us all to celebrate by using the Bard’s words, declaring that today is “Talk Like Shakespeare Day.” The official website offers some suggestions as to how you can talk like Shakespeare:

Instead of you, say thou. Instead of y’all, say thee.

Rhymed couplets are all the rage.

Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.

Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.

Don’t waste time saying “it,” just use the letter

“t” (’tis, t’will, I’ll do’t).

Use verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.

When in doubt, add the letters “eth” to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).

To add weight  to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.

When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer’s day. If that fails, say “Get thee to a nunnery!”

When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.

 

This newly-discovered painting, known as the Cobbe, purports to be a portrait of William Shakespeare (reported in March, 2009)

This newly-discovered painting, known as the Cobbe, purports to be a portrait of William Shakespeare (reported in March, 2009)

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) also made his mark upon our vocabulary and many common expressions had their origin in his plays. The following is a smattering:

"Ophelia" by John Everett Millais. Hamlet was in love with Ophelia, whose death by drowning may have been a suicide. In the play, Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, laments her death, strewing her grave with flowers, and saying: Sweets to the sweet: farewell!

"Ophelia" by John Everett Millais. Hamlet was in love with Ophelia, whose death by drowning may have been a suicide. In the play, Hamlet's mother, Queen Gertrude, laments her death, strewing her grave with flowers, and saying: Sweets to the sweet: farewell!I hoped thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife;I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,And not have strew'd thy grave.

“Hamlet” 

  • in my mind’s eye
  • to the manner born
  • the primrose path
  • it smells to heaven
  • there’s the rub
  • the dog will have his day
  • method in his madness
  • neither a borrower nor a lender be

  “Othello”

  • the green-eyed monster
  • who steals my purse steals trash
  • a foregone conclusion
  • wear my heart on my sleeve

 

Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, Edwin Booth, and Junius Booth, Jr. appear in a production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," 1864

Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, Edwin Booth, and Junius Booth, Jr. appear in a production of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," 1864. Although Shakespeare did not coin the word assassin, which means hash eater, the first recorded use of the word assassination occurred in his play, "Macbeth." Assassin John Wilkes Booth was a skilled and popular Shakespearean actor.

“Julius Caesar”

  •  it was Greek to me
  • a dish fit for the gods
  • masters of their fates
  • the dogs of war

 

 “1 Henry IV”

  • give the devil his due
  • the better part of valor is discretion

 “2 Henry IV”

  • he has eaten me out of house and home
  • the weaker vessel

 “Macbeth”

  • the milk of human kindness
  • a sorry sight

  

“As You Like It”
  • that was laid on with a trowel
  • too much of a good thing

 “Romeo and Juliet”

  • what’s in a name?
  • a fool’s paradise
  • wild goose chase

 “King Lear”

  • the wheel is come full circle

Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet in the 1936 film, "Romeo and Juliet." Romeo had been hiding in the garden when Juliet came out on the balcony and began her famous soliloquoy.

Leslie Howard as Romeo and Norma Shearer as Juliet in the 1936 film, "Romeo and Juliet." Romeo had been hiding in the garden when Juliet came out on the balcony and began her famous soliloquoy: "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?"

 “Anthony and Cleopatra”

  • my salad days

 

“The Merry Wives of Windsor”

  • throw cold water on it

 “Love’s Labor Lost”

  • out of the question
  • play fast and loose

 “The Merchant of Venice

  • my own flesh and blood

 “Richard II”

  • a spotless reputation

 “The Comedy of Errors”

  • something in the wind

 “The Tempest”

  • we are such stuff as dreams are made on

 “Troilus and Cressida”

  • good riddance

 “The Comedy of Errors”

  • neither rhyme nor reason

 “The Merry Wives of Windsor”

  • what the dickens

Readers: For more “Talk Like Shakespeare Today” posts, click here.

Read Full Post »

lincoln-drawingApril 14, 1865, was one of the happiest days of Abraham Lincoln’s life. It was Good Friday. General Robert E. Lee had surrendered five days earlier and the Civil War was over. The Union had been saved. Lincoln had a relaxing breakfast with his 21-year-old son Robert, whom he called “Bob,” who had just arrived for a visit. Robert Lincoln (1843-1926) had studied law at Harvard University until the closing weeks of the war when he joined the Union Army as part of General Ulysses Grant’s staff.

“Well, my son, you have returned safely from the front,” President Lincoln said. “The war is now closed, and we soon will live in peace with the brave men that have been fighting against us.” (1) He was eager to see the country heal and wanted no persecutions for the Confederacy, no “bloody work.” (2) Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Lincoln’s personal assistant, said that Lincoln’s face “was more cheerful than [she] had seen it for a long while.” (1)

At 11 a.m. he met with his regular cabinet and General Grant, who was concerned that not all of the Confederate forces under Johnston had surrendered to General Sherman. Lincoln told Grant not to worry, that good tidings were coming, “for he had last night the usual dream which he had preceding nearly every great and important event of the War.” He described the dream. He had seen himself on the water in some type of boat moving rapidly “towards an indefinite shore.” (1)

That afternoon, he took his usual carriage ride with Mary. Mary had never seen her husband so “cheerful,” she told a friend, “his manner was even playful. At three o’clock, in the afternoon, he drove out with me in the open carriage….I said to him, laughingly, ‘Dear Husband, you almost startle me by your great cheerfulness.'”

He replied, “And well I may feel so, Mary. I consider this day, the war, has come to a close….We must both, be more cheerful in the future – between the war and the loss of our darling Willie – we have both been very miserable.” As the carriage rolled toward the Navy Yard, Lincoln recalled happy memories of is old Springfield home and the adventures as a lawyer riding the circuit. He keenly felt the pressures of the presidency lifting and the future looking brighter.

lincoln-harpers-november-26-1864

Once back at the White House, Lincoln sat down and began reading a book, something humorous by John Phoenix. Mary kept calling him to dinner but he wouldn’t put the book down; he was totally absorbed – as always. Finally, Mary insisted he come to the table at once. They had to eat early, she reminded him, as they had plans to see Laura Keene perform in the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre that evening. It had been announced in the papers; they had to go. Lincoln preferred to stay home. He had no need for the escape of the theatre that day; he was already jubilant. But go he must, as he didn’t want to disappoint the people.

The morning edition of the National Republican had announced that Ulysses and Julia Grant would join the Lincolns in the president’s box for the play, but Julia didn’t want to go, saying she had her heart set on visiting their children in New Jersey. While that may have been true, it was more likely that it was an excuse to get out of an engagement with Mary Lincoln, whom she despised.

The Lincolns had a hard time finding a replacement for the Grants. Secretary of War Stanton and Secretary of the Treasury Chase also declined. Stanton had been trying for months to keep the president from exposing himself to the danger of such public places and both men thought the theatre a frivolity. It was decided that Clara Harris and her fiance, Major Henry Rathbone, would substitute for the Grants.

A little after eight o’clock, the carriage that would take Abraham and Mary to Ford’s Theatre rolled onto the front drive. Lincoln no doubt sighed. “I suppose it’s time to go,” he told Speaker Schuyler Colfax, “though I would rather stay.” He assisted Mary into the carriage and they took off.

(1) Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005)
(2) Freedman, Russell. Lincoln: A Photobiography. (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1987)

Read Full Post »

After the assassination of Lincoln and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton doggedly pursued the apprehension and prosecution of the conspirators. From the beginning, he knew that actor John Wilkes Booth had murdered the president. Booth was hunted down and killed on April 26, 1865, only eleven days after the asssasination. In the search for Booth’s co-conspirators, dozens of suspects were soon arrested and detained. It was determined that the attack had been a Confederate conspiracy designed to topple the United States government, and was, thus, an act of war. It was decided then that the proceedings would be handled by a military tribunal, and, therefore, be under Stanton’s control.

Eight of Lincoln Assassination Conspirators

Eight of Lincoln Assassination Conspirators

Ultimately, the suspects were narrowed down to seven men and one woman: Samuel Arnold, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Mudd, Michael O’Laughlen, Lewis Powell, Edmund Spangler, and Mary Surratt.

Extraordinary security measures were taken with the prisoners. Mary Surratt and Dr. Samuel Mudd first were jailed at the Old Capitol Prison, while the other six were imprisoned on the ironclad ships the Montauk and Saugus. They were all later confined to separate cells in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. Stanton had no tolerance for traitors; he had built a reputation as the secretary of war for ruthlessly rooting out Confederate sympathizers and prosecuting them harshly. Matter of fact,
Lincoln’s last act as President was overriding Stanton’s decision supporting the execution of George S.E. Vaughn for spying. Lincoln pardoned Vaughn an hour before he was assassinated.

Canvas Hoods Worn by Lincoln Assassination Conspirators before Trial July 7, 1865

Canvas Hoods Worn by Lincoln Assassination Conspirators before Trial July 7, 1865

“Stanton ordered an unusual form of isolation for the eight suspects. He ordered eight heavy canvas hoods made, padded one-inch thick with cotton, with one small hole for eating, no opening for eyes or ears. Stanton ordered that the bags be worn by the seven men day and night as a preventive to conversation. Hood number eight was never used on Mrs. Surratt, the owner of the boarding house where the conspirators had laid their plans, Stanton knew the furor of indignation that would cause. A ball of extra cotton padding covered the eyes so that there was painful pressure on the closed lids. No baths or washing of any kind were allowed, and during the hot breathless weeks of the trial the prisoners’ faces became more swollen and bloated by the day, and even the prison doctor began to fear for the conspirators’ sanity inside those heavy hoods laced so tight around their necks. But Stanton would not allow them to be removed, nor the rigid wrist irons, nor the anklets, each of which was connected to an iron ball weighing seventy-five pounds.”(1)

(1) Stanton, Edwin M. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_M._Stanton

Read Full Post »