My Thoughts Be Bloody

Prologue: The Players
By Nora Titone
The Cleveland Civil War Roundtable
Copyright © 2010 by Nora Titone, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from the book My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry That Led to the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Nora Titone and appears here through the courtesy of the author.

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts …
                                                                      – As You Like It, 2.7

On the last day of 1892, a tempest hit Manhattan. A heavy, day-long downpour filled the avenues of the city with ankle-deep water. Fifty-mile-an-hour winds tore umbrellas inside out, chased pedestrians off the streets, and hurled gusts of rain against roof and window. This weather kept most people home for New Year’s Eve, but three hours before midnight a coach carrying the president-elect of the United States started southward, directly into the path of the storm. It was not an easy journey. For forty-five blocks the driver had to urge his balking horses to bring the president to his destination. Only a serious commitment would call a person out in a gale like this one, particularly Grover Cleveland, a good-natured but torpid man who generally avoided physical exertion. Yet tonight he dressed in a white tie and black evening coat, left the comfort of his mansion on East Sixty-Eighth Street, and set forth on the wet and blustery drive without complaint. He was going to a party to give a speech in honor of the actor Edwin Booth.

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