Little known facts about Abraham Lincoln's assassination
By Christian Nilsson, HuffPost Live producer
Wednesday is the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln, and while most Americans know the history of his assassination, many aren't aware of some of the odd facts related to his death.
"[President Lincoln] went with apparent reluctance and urged Mr. Colfax to go with him," the Times reported. "But that gentleman had made other engagements."
Another person who wasn't in the the presidential box was Lincoln's bodyguard, Officer John Parker. According to a special report published in Smithsonian Magazine in 2010, Parker left his position to go to the saloon next door for intermission. Ironically, the same saloon where Booth was drinking just before shooting the president.
It's unclear exactly where Parker was at the time of the assassination, but he obviously wasn't where he was needed.
"Had he done his duty, I believe President Lincoln would not have been murdered by Booth," a fellow presidential bodyguard William H. Crook wrote in his memoir. "Parker knew that he had failed in duty. He looked like a convicted criminal the next day."
Somehow, Parker stayed on the White House security detail though, according to Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker, the widow blamed him for her husband's murder. He was fired three years after Lincoln's death when he was found sleeping on the job.
Speaking of little known facts about the president's security, the night before he left for Ford's Theater, Lincoln signed a bill creating the Secret Service. The same federal law enforcement agency that today ensures the safety of the president. However, in the agency's early years its sole duty was to suppress counterfeiting. The secret service didn't provide presidential protection until 1901 after president William McKinley was assassinated.
Another little known fact: Tom Hanks, who narrated the 2013 TV movie "Killing Lincoln," is actually related to the former president. The Academy Award winner is a third cousin, four times removed linked through Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks.
Also related to Lincoln through the Hanks family is actor George Clooney. According to Ancestry.com, the "O Brother Where Art Thou" actor is linked to the former president's maternal grandmother, Lucy Hanks. Apparently Clooney is Honest Abe's half-first cousin five times removed.
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