Rutherford B. Hayes Responds to Lincoln's Assassination: Now He is "The Darling of History"

April 15, 1865

Add to History Board Share Print
Back to The Collection
Manuscript
See full images and transcript
Rutherford B. Hayes Responds to Lincoln's Assassination: Now He is "The Darling of History"
Autograph Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 124

Quick Reference

      Background

      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.
      Read More

      all pages and transcript

      Page 1/3

      Page 1 transcript
      New Creek  West Va
      15th April 1865

      My Dear Sir 

      The awful tragedy of Washington has so shocked me that I hardly know how to feel as I think about it. It is a great Calamity. The fame of the President is safe. He is "the darling of history" ever more -I suppose I shall soon quit the service. My command is well enough, if any could seem well after leaving the gallant 1st Brigade, but I suppose the war is at an end -

      Have you a photo?

      Sincerely, 

      R. B. Hayes

      Page 2/3

      Page 2 transcript
      Free
      R.B. HAYES,
      M.C. 

      Rev. Jospeh Little
      Chaplain 1st Regt, West Va. Vet Vols., 
      Duvall's Brigade, Carrol's Division, 
      Army of the Shenandoah, 
      Winchester, Va.

      Page 3/3

      Page 3 transcript