Abraham Lincoln died 145 years ago this morning. He had been shot the night before. Here’s an account of the end:
The unconscious figure breathed with shuddering gasps. At least ten doctors were attending the President now. But there was little they could do. The end was very near. At 7:22 a.m., Surgeon General Barnes folded Lincoln’s arms across his chest and looked significantly at the Revered Phineas D. Gurley, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which the Lincolns had attended. The minister lowered his eyes in the heavy silence, now empty of the murdered man’s heavy breathing, and uttered a short prayer. A long moment of quiet followed his “Amen.” Then Stanton, openly weeping at last, murmured that Lincoln now belonged to the ages.
These lines appear in Stanton: The Life and Times of Lincoln’s Secretary of War, by Benjamin P. Thomas and Harold M. Hyman. “Now he belongs to the ages” is Edwin Stanton’s immortal line: In Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, he’s a one-hit wonder. As Thomas and Hyman observe in a footnote to the passage above, “There seems little doubt that Stanton made some such statement; this is one of the few times on record that his prose style transcended the pedestrian.”