For President's Day an interesting historic quandary

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    Feb 18, 2012 3:27 PM GMT
    I am going to DC this weekend and intend to go to the new Ford's Theater Educational Center when it opens President's Day, 2012. Researching it, I came across this very interesting circumstance. Vice President Andrew Johnson WAS supposed to be killed that night too but the person charged with that deadly task, George Atzerodt, got drunk beforehand in the Kirkwood House hotel bar where Johnson was living and lost his nerve, instead leaving a note in the VP's mailbox. Secretary of State William Seward (later famous or infamous shortly after in Johnson's administration for buying a $7 million icebox - aka Alaska) was viciously attacked in his home by a knife wielding Lewis Powell, an exceptionally handsome conspirator in the plot to undermine the US government. A metal brace around Seward's neck placed there after a carriage mishap saved Seward's life, as in the darkened bedroom Powell was slashing viciously at Seward, but kept hitting the metal brace. He did manage to slice his cheek in half though, leaving an odd appearance after it healed and Seward never permitted himself to be photogtaphed from that side afterwards.

    A name lost to history WOULD have been President if Atzerodt had carried through his charge that night; to wit: Andrew Johnson was sworn in as president at 10:00 A.M. on the morning of April 15th. The ceremony took place in Johnson's room at the Kirkwood House, and Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administered the oath. If Johnson had also been assassinated as Booth planned, Senate President Pro Tempore Lafayette S. Foster of Connecticut would have become acting president pending an election of a new president. The process of electing a new president could only be set in motion by the secretary of state; thus Booth felt Seward's assassination would throw the Union government into "electoral chaos." A Presidential Succession law passed on March 1, 1792, was still in effect in 1865. It provided that the president pro tempore of the Senate was third in line to the presidency and the Speaker of the House was fourth. This law didn't make any succession provisions beyond the Speaker.
  • creature

    Posts: 5197

    Feb 19, 2012 1:16 AM GMT
    Interesting tidbit. Never heard of that story.

    Oh, and welcome to DC! Enjoy your visit icon_biggrin.gif