Waiting for the Train

by John J. Miller on April 24, 2010

in Blog Posts

  • Sumo

April 24, 1861 — an excerpt from The First Assassin:

As the four members of his crew waited silently for the train to pull in, Nat remembered the morning, about two months earlier, when Abraham Lincoln had arrived. Nat was scheduled to work a double shift that day to prepare for the president-elect’s arrival in the afternoon, but the man appeared on a Baltimore train first thing in the morning. Instead of the celebration that would have greeted Lincoln later in the day, a handful of somber-looking men escorted him away from the train station and into the city without fanfare.

Nat did not know what to expect from the new president. He had heard all the talk about Lincoln freeing the slaves–it was something his neighbors discussed almost daily, though never in the presence of a white person. When Nat set his eyes on Lincoln that morning, a part of him wanted to quit what he was doing and applaud the man who had become the symbol of so much hope. But Nat kept on working, partly because he did not want to draw attention to himself and mostly because he was a natural skeptic. He worried that Lincoln was just another white man who did not show up at the station on time.

Lincoln train 2

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