April 15, 1865

Rutherford B. Hayes Responds to Lincoln's Assassination on April 15, 1865: Now He is "The Darling of History"

Autograph Letter Signed
1 page
SMC 124
At 8:00 on the morning of  April 15, 1865, while boarding a train, a battle-hardened General Hayes - five times wounded, four horses shot out from under him - heard a report that Lincoln had been assassinated. Feeling sure it was true, and pained and shocked as never before, he wrote this letter to an Army chaplain on the day of Lincoln's death, using, for the first time, a phrase -"the darling of history" - he would repeat often in days to come.

The awful tragedy at Washington so shocked me that I hardly know how to feel or think about it. It is a great calamity. The fame of the President is safe. He is the darling of history ever more...

A year later, on the anniversary of Lincoln's death, Hayes, then a Congressman, visited Mount Vernon. Compelled by the date and place to compare the two heroes, he felt almost sacreligious in deciding that Lincoln was the greater man. It all came down to Lincoln's character, Hayes believed;  more and more, and taken all in all, his was the very highest.
Autograph Letter Signed ("R.B. Hayes"), as Major General and Member of Congress, 1 page, octavo, April 15, 1865, New Creek, West Virginia. To chaplain Joseph Little, 1st Regiment, West Va. Vet Vols., Duvall's Brigade, Carrol's Division, Army of the Shenandoah, Winchester, Va.

With Autograph Envelope Signed ("R.B. Hayes"), bearing in the upper right corner his Free Frank as Member of Congress. Bearing “New Creek Station, West Va. April 15” cancellation. A portion of the envelope - upper left quadrant - is missing but none of the text is effected.
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