Abraham Lincoln photo

Announcement of the Death of President Lincoln to the Vice-President

April 15, 1865


Vice-President of the United States

SIR: Abraham Lincoln. President of the United States was shot by an assassin last evening at Ford's Theater, in this city, and died at the hour of twenty-two minutes after 7 o'clock.

About the same time at which the President was shot an assassin entered the sick chamber of the Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, and stabbed him in several places--in the throat, neck, and face--severely if not mortally wounding him. Other members of the Secretary's family were dangerously wounded by the assassin while making his escape. By the death of President Lincoln the office of President has devolved, under the Constitution, upon you. The emergency of the Government demands that you should immediately qualify, according to the requirements of the Constitution, and enter upon the duties of President of the United States. If you will please make known your pleasure, such arrangements as you deem proper will be made.

Your obedient servants,


Secretary of the Treasury. Postmaster-General


Secretary of War. Secretary of the Interior.


Secretary of Navy. Attorney-General.

The Vice-President responded that it would be agreeable to him to qualify himself for the high office to which he had been so unexpectedly called, under such melancholy circumstances, at his rooms at the Kirkwood Hotel; and at 11 o'clock a.m. (15th) the oath of office was administered to him by Chief Justice Chase, of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the presence of nearly all the Cabinet officers; the Hon. Solomon Foot, United States Senator from Vermont; the Hon. Alexander Ramsey, United States Senator from Minnesota; the Hon. Richard Yates, United States Senator from Illinois; the Hon. John. P. Hale, late Senator from New Hampshire; General Farnsworth, of the House of Representatives, from Illinois; F. P. Blair, Sr.; Hon. Montgomery Blair, late Postmaster-General, and some others.

Abraham Lincoln, Announcement of the Death of President Lincoln to the Vice-President Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/202917

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