15 October 2019

"Goodbye, Crook"

"Even during the height of the American Civil War, presidential security was lax. Throngs of people entered the White House every day. "The entrance doors and all the doors on the Pennsylvania side of the mansion were open at all hours of the day and, often, very late into the evening." Lincoln finally gave in to concerns for his safety in November 1864, and was assigned four around-the-clock
bodyguards...

On April 14, 1865, [William] Crook began his shift at 8 am. He was to have been relieved by John Frederick Parker at 4 pm, but Parker was several hours late. Lincoln had told Crook that he had been having dreams of himself being assassinated for three straight nights. Crook tried to persuade the president not to attend a performance of the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater that night, or at least allow him to go along as an extra bodyguard, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go. As Lincoln left for the theater, he turned to Crook and said "Goodbye, Crook". Before, Lincoln had always said, "Good night, Crook". Crook later recalled: "It was the first time that he neglected to say 'Good Night' to me and it was the only time that he ever said 'Good-bye'. I thought of it at that moment and, a few hours later, when the news flashed over Washington that he had been shot, his last words were so burned into my being that they can never be forgotten." Crook blamed Parker, who had left his post at the theater without permission."

8 comments:

  1. Interesting. Mr. Crook worked in the White House for 50 years, and he was known as the “White House Encyclopedia.” His mother actually outlived him. She was 96 when he died.

    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/whcook.htm

    Mr. Parker, the guard who left his post, apparently had a long history of dereliction of duty. He was a police officer for the Metropolitan Police in DC. Parker was eventually fired for sleeping on the job in 1868. It seems that leaving your post as a bodyguard to a President was not cause for termination.

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  2. Much of this era is discussed in Gore Vidal's, Lincoln. It is long and somewhat dull, but apparently carefully researched, and I did learn a bit from reading it.

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  3. If you don't mind, where did you glean this information? I'd like to read more.

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  4. You might well enjoy this episode of the memory palace which considers the experience of another person present at the Lincoln assassination.

    https://thememorypalace.us/2018/10/the-dress-in-the-closet/

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    1. Thanx for the suggestion; I've subscribed to the podcasts and will give this one a listen while driving around running errands.

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  5. I must add, however, that several highly respected historians do not regard Crook as a reliable source. Among these folks are Ed Steers and William Hanchett. Crook's reminisces have been studied and are regarded as not trustworthy.

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