North Carolina Unionists Mourn Lincoln’s Death
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A scarce newspaper, edited by soon-to-be provisional governor William Wood Holden, reports Sherman’s April 14th occupation of Raleigh on the front page and a public meeting lamenting Lincoln’s death on the verso. Boldly printed on the verso masthead is Daniel Webster’s famous peroration, “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” The North Carolina Standard had resumed operations under its new name just two days prior. [LINCOLN ASSASSINATION].
Newspaper, The Daily Standard, Raleigh, N.C., April 19, 1865, Vol. 1, No. 3. 2 pp. 12¼ x 18”.
“Gen. Sherman came into North Carolina to save, not to destroy … our people can see that the army is commanded to respect persons and property in this State…”
“Death of Mr. Lincoln—Public Meeting in Raleigh … One of the largest meetings ever held by our citizens assembled at the Courthouse yesterday evening, at four o’clock, at short notice, to express the profound regret felt by all our people at the announcement of the death of Mr. Lincoln … There was but one feeling of abhorrence for the deed and its cowardly perpetrators … We have placed our columns in mourning today, as some evidence of the feeling which pervades our people at the death by a felon hand of one illustrious by his position, and who, had his life been spared, would doubtless have shown himself a kind and generous friend to our people. The death of Mr. Lincoln is a national misfortune…”
On April 13, 1865, Union General William T. Sherman entered Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. Much of the front page of this issue of The Daily Standard covers Sherman’s occupation of the city, his negotiations with General Joseph E. Johnston for the surrender of his army, and the announcement that General John Schofield has been made commander of the Department of North Carolina. The newspaper sings Sherman’s praises, describing him as “not cruel, not vindictive,” his rule “mild and kind” with the destitute of the city by Sherman’s order “being fed from his stores.” On the verso is an account of a public meeting in Raleigh convened by Mayor W.H. Harrison, expressing profound sadness at Lincoln’s death on April 15, and denouncing the assassins. Holden explains that the newspaper’s four columns of text are divided by mourning borders in honor of the fallen president.
On April 18, Johnston signed an armistice with Sherman in a farmhouse near Durham Station. Sherman was condemned for exceeding his authority in offering terms of surrender that involved civil as well as military matters without authorization from General Grant or the U.S. government. The surrender was rejected. Finally, on April 26 a military surrender of Johnston’s armies in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida was signed and approved.
William Woods Holden was a prominent newspaper editor, lawyer, and politician in Civil War Era North Carolina. In 1843, after years of apprenticing as a printer, Holden began publication of the North Carolina Standard with a pronounced Democratic affiliation. He served in the North Carolina assembly, but failed in his attempt to gain the party’s nomination for governor. Though he had been proslavery, Holden was a Unionist by1860, and his contract as state printer was terminated. He became a peace advocate and a leading critic of Jefferson Davis and the Confederate government. This positioned him for appointment by President Johnson as North Carolina’s provisional governor in 1865. He switched parties, working diligently to organize the Republican Party in North Carolina, and won the 1868 gubernatorial election for a four-year term. He courageously protected black citizenship rights, imposing martial law and suspending habeas corpus to combat the K.K.K. in several instances. However, once the Democrats achieved large majorities in the state legislature, he was impeached, and in 1871 became the first state governor in U.S. history to be removed from office.