Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Match That Almost Wasn't

One of the reasons why Ulysses S. Grant was able to be included in HttCttD was because his wife and Lincon's wife didn't get along..

We were taught in school that John Wilkes Booth assassinated  Lincoln in April 1865 at Ford's Theater. What we didn't learn (or at least we don't remember learning) was that Lincoln's assassination was part of a bigger plan to throw the U.S. government into a state of chaos. As the Civil War came to a close, Booth, a Confederate sympathizer who had already planned on kidnapping Lincoln the previous year, saw that his chances to save the South were going out the window. When Lincoln made a speech in which he gave his support to give former slaves citizenship, Booth decided that now was the time.

He and a few others decided that the best way of doing this was to kill the men at the top of the government. In the plan, Booth would kill Lincoln, George Atzerodt would kill Vice President Andrew Johnson and Lewis Powell would kill Secretary of State William Seward. Then word got out that General Grant had been invited to join Lincoln at Ford's Theater. Booth then decided that the new plan was to shoot Lincoln and stab Grant, getting two high-level Union deaths for the price of one.

Powell went so far as to attack Seward in his home. He stabbed Seward, but Seward survived. Atzerodt, on the other hand, joined the conspiracy when Booth and others were talking about kidnapping Lincoln. He didn't really have any interest in killing anyone, but Booth told him that it was too late to back out. Instead, Atzerodt went to the hotel where Johnson had been staying and he got drunk.

Grant, however, ended up not going to Ford's Theater with Lincoln, because their wives didn't get along very well. Instead, the Lincolns were joined by Major Henry Rathbone, who was stabbed by Booth in the attack. Rathbone's mental state declined as a result of the attack as he convinced himself that he didn't do enough to save Lincoln and stop the attack.

Instead, Grant and his wife boarded a train for Philadelphia that day. A conspirator, Michael O'Laughlen, followed the Grants onto the train. He tried to break into their private car, but it was locked and under guard. O'Laughlen fled at the first sign of the guard.

So, although they did manage to kill the president, they left the vice president and secretary of state alive. But even if they did succeed in killing Johnson and Seward, the U.S. government still would not be in disarray, because the Presidential Succession Act of 1792 stated that the Presidential pro tempore of the United States Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would have been the next two to take over the presidency.

But I guess if the conspiracy had also successfully assassinated Lafayette S. Foster and Schuyler Colfax (who, coincidentally, later became Grant's vice president), then maybe the Union would have been screwed.

Luckily for Grant, he survived that day, and so did the United States government, thereby paving the way for him to be elected president and to later be a combatant in the Arena.

It's kind of sick of us to put Grant up against Lincoln, given how close they became towards the end of Lincoln's life. But hey, that's us! Speaking of which, there's still two days left in the epic battle between Grant and Lincoln.

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