From:  America’s Civil War Magazine 4/17/15

Paul Selby

At Ford’s Theatre Wednesday, we met writer Susan Johnson Hadler, who was visiting with her great-great-grandfather in mind. Paul Selby was a Lincoln associate and editor of the Illinois State Journal in Springfield. He was one of the first in Lincoln’s hometown to learn of the assassination, and remained by the telegraph all night to learn of the president’s fate. His editorial on the event was published on this date in 1865:

These portentous words, as they sped over the wires throughout the length and breadth of the land on Saturday morning last, sent a thrill of agony through millions of loyal hearts and shrouded a nation, so lately rejoicing in the hour of victory, in the deepest sorrow. The blow came at a moment so unexpected and was so sudden and staggering, the crime by which he fell was so atrocious and the manner of it so revolting, that men were unable to realize the fact that one of the purest of patriots, the most beloved and honored of Presidents, and the most forbearing and magnanimous of rulers had perished at the hands of an assassin. The horrifying details recalled only scenes which had disgraced the barbaric ages. People were unwilling to believe that, in our own time, there could be found men capable of a crime so utterly fiendish and brutal. One of the assassins, in a crowded theater, stealthily approaches a man against whom he could have no just cause of enmity; a man so tender in his feelings and so sympathetic, that all his errors were on the side of mercy; a man who had been twice elected to the highest office in the gift of a great people and without notice of his presence while his victim, with his wife sitting by his side, is wholly unconscious of danger, deliberately discharges a pistol from behind, piercing the head of the President with the fatal ball, then availing himself of the bewilderment of the audience, leaps from the stage and makes his escape. The other assassin, at nearly the same moment, obtrudes himself into the sick chamber of a man who, but a few days before, had narrowly escaped death by being thrown from his carriage, and whose life is hardly yet free from danger, and commences a murderous assault upon his prostrate and helpless victim and his unarmed attendants. It is impossible to conceive of anything more fiendish and diabolical. And yet this is “Chivalry!” and its perpetrators profess to be influenced by the love of Liberty! It is the chivalry of the desperado and the love of liberty which controls the highwayman and the enemy of humanity.

The nation is bereaved. Every loyal man and woman mourns the loss of one whose unswerving justice, whose pure and unsullied character and whose mercifulness towards his enemies had won the respect of those enemies themselves. All but traitors mourn him as a personal friend. At such an hour as this, and in sight of the fearful crime that has been committed, the spirit of mere partisanship is disarmed and its voice is silenced. Nothing but the most demoniac treason dares to assail a man so foully dealt with or gloat over “The deep damnation of his taking off.”

President Lincoln died at the hand of Slavery. It was Slavery that conceived the fearful deed; it was Slavery that sought and found the willing instrument and sped the fatal ball ; it is Slavery alone that will justify the act. Henceforth men will look upon Slavery as indeed “the sum of all villainies,” the fruitful parent of all crime. This murder was an assault upon the principle of free government, inasmuch as its victim was the choice of a majority of the nation for the office which he filled. He has fallen in the very hour of victory, when constitutional free government was being vindicated and when peace seemed just ready to re- turn to a land torn and distracted by civil war. Despite the calumnies of his enemies, his fame is now secure. History and posterity will now do him justice. His memory will be a rich inheritance to our nation, attracting to his tomb the lovers of freedom from all lands and dividing, with that of Washington, the admiration of the world. With a slight change of phraseology, the closing lines of the magnificent lyric (the Battle Hymn of the Republic) will apply to the death of Abraham Lincoln:

“As Christ died to make men holy, So HE died to make men free, While God is marching on.”