The murder of President Abraham Lincoln, just days after the Union had triumphed in the Civil War, shocked and horrified people across America—it was, in its way, a nineteenth century 9/11. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination, and historian Martha Hodes has explored that traumatic event in an eloquent new book, MOURNING LINCOLN.
Hodes has combed through the private, unfiltered writings of Americans from both North and South to learn how they reacted to news of the assassination. Their responses both reflected how much Lincoln meant to his contemporaries and revealed the profound differences that the Civil War had left unresolved. Here’s my conversation with Martha Hodes about her work.