Category: Eyewitness


 

Margaret Graham, the 19-year-old daughter of W.T. Graham, a financial backer for Dixie Cup Corporation, and Elizabeth Shutes, her governess, were passengers on the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Of the 2,227 aboard, they were two of the 375 that survived.

The Titanic left Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912, and headed for New York. On the night of April 15, it struck and iceberg and went down. Here’s Shutes’ account:

“Suddenly a queer quivering ran under me, apparently the whole length of the ship. Startled by the very strangeness of the shivering motion, I sprang to the floor. With too perfect a trust in that mighty vessel I again lay down. Someone knocked at my door, and the voice of a friend said: ‘Come quickly to my cabin; an iceberg has just passed our window; I know we have just struck one.’

“No confusion, no noise of any kind, one could believe no danger imminent. Our stewardess came and said she could learn nothing. Looking out into the companionway I saw heads appearing asking questions from half-closed doors. All sepulchrally still, no excitement. I sat down again. My friend was by this time dressed; still her daughter and I talked on, Margaret pretending toe eat a sandwich. Her hand shook so that the bread kept parting company from the chicken. Then I saw she was frightened, and for the first time I was too, but why get dressed, as no one had given the slightest hint of any possible danger? An officer’s cap passed the door. I asked: ‘Is there any accident or danger of any kind?’ ‘None, so far as I know,’ was his courteous answer, spoken quietly and most kindly. This same officer then entered a cabin a little distance down the companionway and, by this time distrustful of everything, I listened intently, and distinctly heard ‘We can keep the water out for a while.’ Then, and not until then, did I realize the horror of an accident at sea. Now it was too late to dress; no time for a waist, but a coat and skirt were soon on; slippers were quicker than shoes; the stewardess put on our life-preservers, and we were just ready when Mr. Roebling came to tell us he would take us to our friend’s mother, who was waiting above . . . .

“No laughing throng, but on either side [of the staircases] stand quietly, bravely, the stewards, all equipped with the white, ghostly life-preservers. Always the thing one tries not to see even crossing a ferry. Now only pale faces, each form strapped about with those white bars. Go gruesome a scene. We passed on. The awful good-byes. The quiet look of hope in the brave men’s eyes as the wives were put into the lifeboats. Nothing escaped one at this fearful moment. We left from the sundeck, seventy-five feet above the water. Mr. Case and Mr. Roebling, brave American men, saw us to the lifeboat, made no effort to save themselves, but stepped back on the deck. Later they went to an honored grave.

“Our lifeboat, with thirty-six in it, began lowering to the sea. This was done amid the greatest confusion. Rough seamen all giving different orders. No officer aboard. As only one side of the ropes worked, the lifeboat at one time was in such a position that it seemed we must capsize in mid-air. At last the ropes worked together, and we drew nearer and nearer the black, oily water. The first touch of our lifeboat on that black sea came to me as a last good-bye to life, and so we put off – a tiny boat on a great sea – rowed away from what had been a safe home for five days.

“The first wish on the part of all was to stay near the Titanic. We all felt so much safer near the ship. Surely such a vessel could not sink. I thought the danger must be exaggerated, and we could all be taken aboard again. But surely the outline of that great, good ship was growing less. The bow of the boat was getting black. Light after light was disappearing, and now those rough seamen put to their oars and we were told to hunt under seats, any place, anywhere, for a lantern, a light of an kind. Every place was empty. There was no water – no stimulant of any kind. Not a biscuit – nothing to keep us alive had we drifted long . . . .

“Sitting by me on the lifeboat were a mother and daughter. The mother had left a husband on the Titanic, and the daughter, a father and husband, and while we were near the other boats those two stricken women would call out a name and ask, ‘Are you there?’ ‘No,’ would come back the awful answer, but these brave women never lost courage, forgot their own sorrow, telling me to sit close to them to keep warm . . . . The life-preservers helped to keep us warm, but the night was bitter cold, and it grew colder and colder, and just before dawn, the coldest, darkest hour of all, no help seemed possible . . . .

“The stars slowly disappeared, and in their place came the faint pink glow of another day. Then I heard, ‘A light, a ship.’ I could not, would not, look while there was a bit of doubt, but kept my eyes away. All night long I had heard, ‘A light!’ Each time it proved to be one of our other lifeboats, someone lighting apiece of paper, anything they could find to burn, and now I could not believe. Someone found a newspaper; it was lighted and held up. Then I looked and saw a ship. A ship bright with lights; strong and steady she waited, and we were to be saved. As straw hat was offered as it would burn longer. That same ship that had come to save us might run us down. But no, she is still. The two, the ship and the dawn, came together, a living painting.”

 

 

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A gun went off, the president was shot, and John Wilkes Booth gave a short, one-line speech on stage. But what then? After fleeing the Ford Theatre, Booth went south into Virginia with one of his co-conspirators, David Herold, where they were soon surrounded.

It was April 24, 1865, when Lieutenant Edward Doherty got orders to go to a Virginia farm owned by Richard Garrett, to hunt down fugitives David Herold and John Wilkes Booth – both wanted in relation to the death of President Abraham Lincoln. According to Doherty, this is what happened:

“I dismounted, and knocked loudly at the front door. Old Mr. Garrett came out. I seized him, and asked him where the men were who had gone to the woods when the cavalry passed the previous afternoon.

“While I was speaking with him some of the men had entered the house to search it. Soon one of the soldiers sang out, ‘O Lieutenant! I have a man here I found in the corn-crib.’ It was young Garrett, and I demanded the whereabouts of the fugitives. He replied, ‘In the barn.’

“Leaving a few men around the house, we proceeded in the direction of the barn, which we surrounded. I kicked in the door of the barn several times without receiving a reply. Meantime another son of the Garrett’s had been captured. The barn was secured with a padlock, and young Garrett carried the key. I unlocked the door, and again summoned the inmates of the building to surrender.

“After some delay Booth said, ‘For whom do you take me?’

“I replied, ‘It doesn’t make any difference. Come out.’

“He replied, ‘I may be taken by my friends, but not by my foes.’

“I said, ‘If you don’t come out, I’ll burn the building.’ I directed a corporal to pile up some hay in a crack in the wall of the barn and set the building on fire.

“As the corporal was picking up the hay and brush Booth said, ‘If you come back here I will put a bullet through you.’

“I then motioned to the corporal to desist, and decided to wait for daylight and then to enter the barn by both doors and over power the assassins.

“Booth then said in a drawling voice, ‘Oh Captain! There is a man here who wants to surrender awful bad.’

“I replied, ‘You had better follow his example and come out.’

“His answer was, ‘No, I have not made up my mind, but draw your men up fifty paces off and give me a chance for life.’

“I told him I had not come to fight; and I had fifty men and could take him.

“Then he said, ‘Well, my brave boys, prepare me a stretcher, and place another stain on our glorious banner.’

“At this moment Herold reached the door. I asked him to hand out his arms; he replied that he had none. I told him I knew exactly what weapons he had. Booth replied, ‘I own all the arms, and may have to use them on you, gentlemen.’ I then said to Herold, ‘Let me see your hands.’ He put them through the partly opened door and I seized him by the wrists. I handed him over to a non-commissioned officer. Just at this moment I heard a shot, and thought Booth had shot himself. Throwing open the door, I saw that the straw and hay behind Booth were on fire. He was half-turning towards it.

“He had a crutch, and he held a carbine in his hand. I rushed into the burning barn, followed by my men, and as he was falling caught him under the arms and pulled him out of the barn. The burning building becoming too hot, I had him carried to the veranda of Garrett’s house.

“Booth received his death-shot in this manner. While I was taking Herold out of the barn one of the detectives went to the rear, and pulling out some protruding straw set fire to it. I had placed Sergeant Boston Corbett at a large crack in the side of the barn, and he, seeing by the igniting hay that Booth was leveling his carbine at either Herold or myself, fired, to disable him in the arm; but Booth making a sudden move, the aim erred, and the bullet struck Booth in the back of the head, about an inch below the spot where his shot had entered the head of Mr. Lincoln. Booth asked me by signs to raise his hands. I lifted them up and he gasped, ‘Useless, useless!’ We gave him brandy and water, but he could not swallow it. I sent to Port Royal for a physician, who could do nothing when he came, and at seven o’clock Booth breathed his last. He had on his person a diary, a large bowie knife, two pistols, a compass and a draft on Canada for 60 pounds.

 

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Many have wondered what actually went down between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr on that July morning, 1804, in Weehawken, New Jersey. There were two there who wrote about what they saw of the famous duel and its aftermath.

Considering how it all ended, it’s not surprising to find out that Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr began their relationship as law partners. The animosity that was built there stoked the fires of resentment that flared up later in their careers. When Burr won a Senate seat that had belonged to Hamilton’s father-in-law, though, things got really tense between the two.

Duel: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Future of America

 

Burr walked away from the vice presidency in 1804, and ran a campaign for New York governor. He was unliked by many besides Hamilton, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He’d developed a reputation for being untrustworthy and had a tendency to court any political party that would put him ahead. Many people were willing to try almost anything to make sure he didn’t win the New York governor’s race; Hamilton among them. Burr soon became the victim of a vicious smear campaign led by Hamilton. When accursed by Burr of leading the slanderous attack, Hamilton refused to acknowledge it, much less apologize for the role he played. Burr, then, challenged Hamilton to a duel.

One just didn’t show up for a duel unaided. Hamilton, like many other duel participant, brought a Second – a guy who prepared the guns, tended wounds and assisted the duelers with various tasks.

Hamilton’s Second, Nathanial Pendleton, and Burr’s Second, W.P. Van Ness, collaborated on a summary in the aftermath of the event. Not long after, they published this account:

He then asked if they were prepared; being answered in the affirmative, he gave the word present, as had been agreed on, and both parties presented and fired in succession. The intervening time is not expressed, as the seconds do not precisely agree on that point. The fire of Colonel Burr took effect, and General Hamilton almost instantly fell. Colonel Burr advanced toward General Hamilton with a manner and gesture that appeared to General Hamilton’s friend to be expressive of regret; but, without speaking, turned about and withdrew, being urged from the field by his friend, as had been subsequently stated, with a view to prevent his being recognized by the surgeon and bargemen who were then approaching. No further communication took place between the principals, and the barge that carried Colonel Burr immediately returned to the city. We conceive it proper to add, that the conduct of the parties in this interview was perfectly proper, as suited the occasion.

Accompanying Alexander Hamilton to the duel on that day was physician David Hosack. When Hamilton fell, it was Hosack who attended to his injuries. This is what he remembered:

When called to him upon his receiving the fatal wound, I found him half sitting on the ground, supported in the arms of Mr. Pendleton. His countenance of death I shall never forget. He had at that instant just strength to say, “This is a mortal wound, doctor;” when he sunk away, and became to all appearance lifeless. I immediately stripped up his clothes, and soon, alas I ascertained that the direction of the ball must have been through some vital part. His pulses were not to be felt, his respiration was entirely suspended, and, upon laying my hand on his heart and perceiving no motion there, I considered him a irrecoverably gone. I, however, observed to Mr. Pendleton, that the only chance for his reviving was immediately to get him upon the water. We therefore lifted him up, and carried him out of the wood to the margin of the bank, where the bargemen aided us in conveying him into the boat, which immediately put off. During all this time I could not discover the last symptom of returning life. I now rubbed his face, lips, and temples with spirits of hartshorn, applied it to his neck and breast, and to the wrists and palms of his hand and endeavored to pour some into his mouth.

When we had got, as I should judge, about fifty yards from the shore, some imperfect efforts to breathe were for the first time manifest; in a few minutes he sighed, and became sensible to the impression of the hartshorn or the fresh air of the water. He breathed; his eyes, hardly opened, wandered, without fixing upon any object; to our great joy, he at length spoke. “My vision is indistinct,” were his first words. His pulse became more perceptible, his respiration more regular, his sight returned. I then examined the wound to know if there was any dangerous discharge of blood; upon slightly pressing his side it gave him pain, on which I desisted.

Soon after recovering his sight, he happened to cast his eye upon the case of pistols, and observing the one that he had had in his hand lying on the outside, he said, “Take care of that pistol; it is undischarged, and still cocked; it may go off and do harm. Pendleton knows” (attempting to turn his head towards him) “that I did not intend to fire at him.”

“Yes,” said Mr. Pendleton, understanding his wish, “I have already made Dr. Hosack acquainted with your determination as to that.”

He then closed his eyes and remained calm, without any disposition to speak; nor did he say much afterward, except to reply to my questions. He asked me once or twice how I found his pulse; and he informed me that his lower extremities had lost all feeling, manifesting to me that he entertained no hopes that he should long survive.

The next day, Hamilton was dead. But that’s not the end of the sordid tale.

The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr

Burr’s “victory” meant that he was charged with murder in both New York and New Jersey. He became a social and political pariah.

He didn’t let it stop him, though . . . . Within a few years, Burr was caught red-handed organizing a private army so that he could go and conquer portions of both Mexico and Louisiana, probably to set up his own kingdom. Although he never officially stated his purpose, Burr wrote to his co-conspirator General James Wilkinson of his intentions, “The gods invite us to glory and fortune; it remains to be seen whether we deserve the boon.” Wilkinson, in the end, ratted him out to President Thomas Jefferson, but thanks to a legal technicality, Burr escaped being convicted of treason.

Soon after, he fled to Europe, hoping to leave his reputation behind, he did so successfully, but he soon wound up in serious debt. To avoid debtor’s prison there, he had to come back home to New York.

The murder charges were eventually dropped, and Burr managed to rekindle his career as a lawyer, but the legacy he built over his lifetime never really left him. He lived a life “severed from the human race,” as he put it, and died forgotten in 1833 at the age of eighty.

Reports Of The Trials Of Colonel Aaron Burr For Treason V2

 

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