plot; which at first contemplated primarily the capture and forcible abduction of the President
— a scheme which of course involved a probability, but not a certainty, of felonious bloodshed.
was simply one of the many badly educated, loose-living young men infesting the purlieus of our great cities, who, regarding Slavery as the chief bulwark of their own claim to birthright in a superior caste, and the Federal Constitution
as established expressly and mainly to sustain and buttress Slavery, could never comprehend that any political action adverse to whatever exactions and pretensions of the Slave Power
could possibly be other than unjustly aggressive and treason able.
Few of this class were radically Disunionists; they sympathized with the Rebellion
, not because it aimed at a division of the Republic
, but because it was impelled by devotion to Slavery; and was thus hallowed, in their view, as a laudable effort, however irregular, to achieve and firmly secure the chief end of both the Constitution
and the Union
There is no particle of evidence that Booth
, or any of his fellow conspirators, had been in any wise offended by, or that they cherished any feeling of aversion to, the President
, save as the “head center” of resistance to the Slaveholders' Rebellion.
Almost at the identical moment of Booth
's entry into the theater, a stranger, afterward identified as' Lewis Payne Powell
, son of a Florida clergyman, but generally known to his intimates as Payne
, presented him-self at the door of Secretary Seward
's house on President Square
, where he claimed to be charged with an errand from his physician, Dr. Verdi
, to the Secretary
; then confined to his bed by very serious injuries received when recently thrown from his carriage — his horses having taken fright and run away.
The colored porter declined to let him go unasked up to the Secretary
's sick room; but the stranger rushed by him and up stairs to the third story: making his way readily to the door of the sufferer's chamber, where lie was confronted by Gov.
S.'s son Frederick
, who barred his way; when he drew and presented a pistol, which snapped; where-upon he struck Frederick
twice over the head with it, fracturing his skull and felling him to the floor in utter insensibility.
The noise of this encounter brought from the sick room Miss Fannie Seward
, the Secretary
's only daughter, by whom the villain instantly rushed, and, throwing him-self on the bed, inflicted, with a bowie-knife, three heavy stabs aimed at the throat of his intended victim; who, instinctively divining the assassin's purpose, had raised himself on his left elbow, and offered all the resistance compatible with his slender frame and crippled condition — he having had his right arm broken and his lower jaw fractured when thrown from his carriage.
The wounds thus inflicted on his face and neck were terrible, but, because of his resistance, not fatal; and, before a fourth blow could take effect, the assassin was grasped by an invalid soldier named Robinson
, who was in attendance as a nurse; whom he savagely assaulted and wounded with his bloody weapon, but did not succeed in mastering.
, meanwhile, exerting his remaining strength, succeeded in rolling off the farther side of the bed; while Miss