What If President Lincoln Was Never Assassinated?

What If President Lincoln Was Never Assassinated?

Warfare History Network

History, Americas


How? What would have happened?

Key point: Had a different secret service member been present and the media not mocked the idea of an assassination plot, Lincoln may have lived.

“Early in the year 1861, I was at my headquarters in the city of Chicago, attending to the manifold duties of my profession. I had, of course, perused the daily journals which contained the reports of doings of the malcontents of the South, but in common with others, I entertained no serious fears of an open rebellion, and was disposed to regard the whole matter as of trivial importance.” – Detective Allan Pinkerton, detective, just before being summoned to guard President Abraham Lincoln

The Baltimore Plot

On February 18, as President Lincoln’s train traveled across New York, Jefferson Davis in Montgomery, Ala., took the oath of office as President of the Confederate States of America. Passions were running high and, despite Lincoln’s stance of moderation, many hated him thoroughly. That night a man with the cover name Joseph Howard—one of Alan Pinkerton’s implanted Baltimore spies—was taken to a secret meeting of the conspirators where he was sworn in as a member. He was warily congratulated by members of the polite circles of Baltimore society, whom he had previously met.

Then the meeting got down to business. A box containing lots was prepared. Each man was to keep secret the color of paper he drew out. The man who drew the red lot was to be the assassin. The leaders, doubting the courage of all present, and to ensure success, secretly placed eight red lots in the box. The room was darkened so that no one would see the color of the lot drawn by another. Thus each man drew a red lot and believed he would be the lone assassin.

No Time to Lose

Pinkerton had little time to spare because President Lincoln was already on his way to Washington. His trip included speeches in major northern cities, shaking thousands of hands, and greeting people at every whistle-stop en route to the nation’s capital.

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