When the Bells Tolled for Lincoln: Southern Reaction to the Assassination
In the morning hours of 15 April 1865, tolling bells in Washington declared the devastating news of Lincoln's death. For the first time in the nation's history a president had been assassinated. As news of the assassination reached the conquered South, church bells in the former Confederacy joined in the pealing. From the President's election through the end of the Civil War, Southerners had blamed Lincoln for their misfortune and ultimate downfall. Yet in the days after the assassination, Confederates gladdened by Lincoln's death feared Northern reprisals and dared not express their feelings openly.
As word spread across the South, however, many ex-Confederates turned to their diaries and journals, where they poured out their fears and wrath with impunity and without restraint.
After more than four years researching and writing, Carolyn L. Harrell has produced a unique and fascinating analysis of Southerners' reactions to the death of Abraham Lincoln.
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17 April 22 April Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln Quarterly Alabama Andrew Johnson Andy Johnson armies Atlanta Augusta Baton Rouge bells Black Republican Booth Breckinridge Carolina Press Charles Charleston citizens Civil Columbia Confederacy Daily death of Lincoln deep South Delaware Diary editor Edmund Ruffin Emma LeConte enemy entries expressed Federal feelings flag Fort Sumter friends Georgia grief heard Historical Society Huntsville Image of Lincoln inaugural Jefferson Davis John Johnson's Island Jones Journal Kentucky Lee's surrender Library Lincoln Encyclopedia Lincoln Herald Lincoln's assassination Lincoln's death Lincoln's murder Louisiana State University Macon Manuscript Collection Manuscript Department Mary Missouri Nashville Natchez North Carolina orders Orleans President Lincoln prisoners Raleigh reaction to Lincoln's rebel Richmond Ruffin Savannah seceded secession Sherman slain President slavery slaves soldiers Southern Historical Collection Southern Reaction Special Collections Stephen Sumter Tennessee Texas newspapers throughout town Unionist University of North University Press Virginia Washington William wrote Yankee York
Page 15 - I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so; and I have no inclination to do so.
Page 15 - I now reiterate these sentiments ; and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming administration.
Page 15 - I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.
Page 16 - In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it.
Page 15 - In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence ; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government...
Page 15 - It follows from these views that no state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void; and that acts of violence within any state or states against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.