Lincoln and Cleveland

By Dale Thomas
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2003, All Rights Reserved

Artemus Ward

In 1857, Charles Farrar Brown became the local editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and began to write articles about an itinerant showman named Artemus Ward. Later moving on to Vanity Fair in New York City, Brown’s humorous commentary of the news was admired and enjoyed by Lincoln. “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day,” he told his Cabinet, “if I did not laugh I should die…”

Weddell House

On his way to Washington in February of 1861, President-elect Lincoln stayed overnight in Cleveland. On February 15, Lincoln stood on the second floor balcony of the Weddell House Hotel and spoke to a large crowd.

“A devotion to the constitution, to the union and to the laws, to the perpetual liberty of the people of this country. It is, fellow citizens, for the whole American people and not for one single man alone to advance a great cause….If all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”

A plaque marks the site now occupied by the Rockefeller Building at the corner of West 6th and Superior.

Academy of Music

In November of 1863, John Wilkes Booth played the lead role in Shakespeare’s Richard III on the stage of the Academy of Music. The theater was located on Bank Street (West 6th), a block north of the Weddell House.

The Cleveland Academy of Music (left); Program from the Academy of Music production of Richard III starring John Wilkes Booth, reputedly Booth’s last stage performance prior to assassinating Abraham Lincoln 17 months later (right)

Lincoln Funeral

On the journey to Springfield in April of 1865, the funeral train carrying the assassinated President stopped in Cleveland. A hundred thousand mourners stood in the rain and paid their respects on the city’s Public Square.

The pagoda-like catafalque erected in Cleveland’s Monument Square (now Public Square) for Lincoln’s funeral service (left); Headlines from The Cleveland Plain Dealer reporting on the April 1865 Lincoln funeral procession in Cleveland (right)

John Milton Hay

John Hay held the position of assistant personal secretary to President Lincoln. After marrying the daughter of a wealthy Clevelander, he became a resident of the city. Hay co-authored the ten-volume Abraham Lincoln: A History. He served as ambassador to Great Britain and secretary of state. In July of 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt attended Hay’s funeral. The archangel Michael looks down at the gravesite in Lake View Cemetery on Cleveland’s eastern border.

John Milton Hay (left); John Hay’s gravesite at Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio (right)