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Our American Cousin by Steve Payne, Stan Brin, Eric Lipps & Eric Oppen

Author says: what if Abraham Lincoln survived the Good Friday assasination attempt with his life, but not his reputation? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).


In 1865, at 10.30pm on Good Friday, a southern sympathiser by the name of John Wilkes Booth sneaked into the presidential box at Ford's theatre in Washington. Although Booth had a clear shot, he tripped up and missed his target Abraham Lincoln who took a bullet in the shoulder. The wound was attended to in a lodging house across the street. However, his devoted wife Mary was killed and playgoers witnessed the well-built, but small assassin being lifted up and thrown onto the stage real hard to be arrested.

The Good Friday assassination attempt marked a sharp reversal in Lincoln's fortunes. Indeed, historians would speculate whether his reputation might not have been improved had Booth been successful. Because just six months before, General Carl Schurz had made "a prophecy which may perhaps sound strange at this moment. In fifty years, perhaps much sooner, Lincoln's name will stand written upon the honor roll of the American Republic next to that of Washington, and there it will remain for all time. The children of those who now disparage him will bless him".

"I believe I have no lawful right to [abolish slavery], and I have no inclination to do so"Just five days after the conclusion of the Civil War, Lincoln had reached a high water mark in popularity, even if it wasn't recognised at the time. His challenge now was to come up with a plan that would resolve the unanswered questions from the Emancipation Proclamation. And it was a problem that was simply beyond his ability to solve.

"Send them to Liberia, to their own native land"

Which isn't to say that the President didnt devise a plan, or attempt to implement it. Lincoln persisted with his plan of repatriating former slavers to Liberia in West Africa. It was a brutal proposal that would fatally undermine his claim to be the "great emancipator".

"I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races"One man would rise up in leadership to challenge the chilling indifference of this proposal; the radical Republican Thaddeus Stevens of Pennyslvania, the individual who would ultimately steal Lincoln's credit for "freeing the slaves". Because along with Charles Sumner of Massachussets, the pair would drive Reconstruction Legislation through Congress that would force the South into line.

"I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I favor colonization"After his death in 1868, Stevens' coffin lay in state inside the Capitol Rotunda, flanked by a Black Honor Guard from Massachusetts. Twenty thousand people, one-half of whom were African-American, attended his funeral in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He chose to be buried in the Shreiner-Concord Cemetery because it was the only cemetery that would accept people without regard to race. Stevens wrote the inscription on his head stone that reads: "I repose in this quiet and secluded spot, not from any natural preference for solitude, but finding other cemeteries limited as to race, by charter rules, I have chosen this that I might illustrate in my death the principles which I advocated through a long life, equality of man before his Creator".

Ironically, the comedy that Lincoln was watching that Good Friday was called "Our American Cousin", a fateful reference to the African Americans he had sought to expel from the United States.

Author says original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's genius Steve Wiegand, US History for Dummies (2001)

Other Civil War Variants

Escaping History Thirteenth Amendment Gettysburg Dedication



Steve Payne, Stan Brin, Eric Lipps & Eric Oppen

Editor and Guest Historians of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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