With The JFK Assassination Anniversary Approaching, A Look At How The Nation Remembered President Lincoln On The 50th Anniversary Of His Assassination – April 15, 1915
Leading up to November 22, 2013, there has been an abundance of media recalling the fateful weekend fifty years ago when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
Over the years many parallels and coincidences have been drawn between the assassinations of President’s Lincoln and Kennedy. Several of these are urban legends- i.e. Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy; Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln. Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln, but there is no evidence Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy. But some parallels are true: Both presidents were shot on a Friday in the presence of their wives. Both presidents were shot in the head. Both presidents were accompanied by another couple, etc.
Burlington Weekly Free Press April 15, 1915 – click to enlarge
For the 50th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination the media coverage was not the front page kind that the Kennedy assassination is receiving now. Obviously in the 21st century we have film, TV radio, magazines, newspapers and of course the internet to propagate thousands of stories about JFK and the assassination.
In 1915 print reigned supreme as the main mass medium, with motion picture newsreels still in their infancy.
Surprisingly, in the days leading up to and after the date of the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination, newspaper and magazine stories were not that widespread.
So how exactly did the nation remember the martyred president on the 50th anniversary of his assassination and what were the stories about?
Many newspapers covered the fact that President Woodrow Wilson issued an executive order that on Thursday April 15, 1915 to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, that all the executive offices be closed. The American flag would be placed at half staff on all public buildings, forts, military posts and United States vessels.
New York Governor Charles S. Whitman also issued a proclamation that mirrored part of President Wilson’s executive order by ordering the lowering of all flags on public buildings.
In the week leading up to the anniversary some newspapers such as The Washington Herald ran a series of long stories surrounding little known facts about Lincoln and his last days in office. The series included profiles of the assassin John Wilkes Booth and other key people, accounts of the assassination itself and the aftermath.
Like the current coverage of Kennedy’s assassination, a lot of the stories in 1915 are about the assassin and the conspiracy rather than about Lincoln. Continue reading