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Lot 59: ABRAHAM LINCOLN Appoints Thomas M Vincent, Ford's Theatre Assassination Witness
29 October 2016
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, USALive Auction
Remarkable "Abraham Lincoln" Presidential Military Appointment of Thomas M. Vincent who was at Ford's Theatre, Actually Witnessed Lincoln's Assassination, and was Present at His Deathbed... said to have Placed Two Coins on the President's Eyes After Lincoln died !
ABRAHAM LINCOLN (1809-1865). Sixteenth President of the United States, serving from throughout the American Civil War until his Assassination at Ford's Theater by John Wilkes Booth in April of 1865.
July 18, 1862-Dated, Civil War Period, Partially-Printed Document Signed, "Abraham Lincoln" as President, 1 page, on Vellum, measuring 15.5" x 19.5", Washington, Choice Very Fine. Countersigned by "Edwin M. Stanton" as Secretary of War. Nicely printed on Vellum parchment and completed in manuscript. Ornate and highly Decorative Military vignettes at top center and across the bottom. Light folds, two tiny pinholes at upper folds, having an impressive, above average, bold full signature, "Abraham Lincoln". Embossed blue paper Seal at top left, beneath is the signature "L. Thomas" as Adjutant General recording the appointment.
This extraordinary and historically important Civil War Period Appointment being for Thomas M. Vincent, as "Assistant Adjutant General with the rank of Major...". Later, in 1864, President Lincoln further appointed Vincent, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel and Brevet Colonel and, in March 1865, Bvt. Brigadier General "for Meritorious and Faithful Services during the Rebellion. This rare Lincoln appointment of Thomas Vincent to Major who later actually witnessed Lincoln's Assassination, and was present at his deathbed, and, is said to have placed coins on the President's eyes after Lincoln died!
Just weeks after being Breveted to to Brigadier General, on the evening of April 14, 1865, General Thomas McCurdy Vincent (1832-1909) was at Ford's Theatre with his cousin, seated about two-thirds of the way down on the main floor, and witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
As Assistant Adjutant General, he was with Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in the Petersen House, across the street from Ford's Theatre, at the bedside of the dying President.
In his address "Abraham Lincoln and Edwin M. Stanton," delivered on April 26, 1889, before the Department of the Potomac, Grand Army of the Republic, Burnside Post No. 8, Assistant Adjutant General and Brigadier General by brevet, U.S. Army, Thomas M. Vincent, who was at the Petersen House when President Lincoln died there on April 15, 1865, at 7:22 AM, said, in part:
"Soon after eight o'clock the devoted War Minister [Stanton] had ordered all to be arranged for the removal of the body to the Executive Mansion, and then left me, as his representative, until after the transfer should take place. It was about this time that, after pressing and smoothing the eyes of the dead President, I placed coins on them to close them for a last long slumber..."
Three others have also claimed to have placed the coins on Lincoln's eyes. But it is a fact that, on the evening of April 14th, Secretary of War Stanton ordered General Vincent to take charge of affairs in the Petersen House, as he issued oral and written orders including those relating to searching for the assassins, notifying General Grant, Chief Justice Chase, and Vice President Johnson that the President was dying, and issuing bulletins concerning Lincoln's condition.