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“Reported Death of Abm. Lincoln,” Extremely Rare Western New York Broadside Extra, April 15, 1865
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At 2:50 A.M. the President was still alive, but insensible and completely helpless.
President died at 7:22 this Saturday morning.

This vivid early account of the assassination of President Lincoln notes that Secretary of State William H. Seward and his son Frederick (misidentified as Frank) had also been attacked. The newspaper obtained its information from a telegraph operator at the local railroad depot.

[LINCOLN ASSASSINATION]. “Reported Death of Abm. Lincoln,” The Chautauqua Democrat, Broadside Extra, April 15, 1865, Jamestown, New York. 1 p., 8½ x 16 in.

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Historical Background
News of the assassination spread by telegraph throughout the nation on Saturday, April 15, often with inaccurate details. Coming only days after the news of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, the first assassination of an American president struck the people of the nation with particular force.

Newspapers reassured the public that the nation was safe, that Johnson had been inaugurated as president, and that all resources were devoted to finding the assassin, John Wilkes Booth. This broadside brings the immediacy of these transformational events to life.

The village of Jamestown, New York, with a population of 3,155 in 1860, growing to 5,336 by 1870. In November 1860, Lincoln won Chautauqua County with 69.8 percent of the popular vote against a fusion ticket of Stephen Douglas, John Bell, and John Breckinridge. Four years later, Lincoln won Chautauqua County with 68.5 percent of the vote to McClellan’s 31.5 percent.

On April 19, 1865, the weekly issue of The Chautauqua Democrat reported: “On Saturday morning a telegram was received announcing the assassination of President Lincoln. Extras were at once issued from the Democrat office, followed by extras from the [Jamestown] Journal office, and three subsequent editions were issued by each office. On Monday telegrams were received announcing cabinet meeting, Proclamation of Gov. Fenton, Health of Gov. Seward, and Funeral ceremonies at Jamestown, &c. all of which news was furnished our citizens in an Extra from this office. No extra was issued by the Journal.”

On April 21, the weekly issue of The Jamestown Journal reported: “The Terrible news was announced by telegraph to us on Saturday last. It first appeared in a Democrat Extra early in the morning, as rumored. Two editions of the Journal soon appeared announcing by telegraph confused and contradictory reports. The public were thrown into the extremity of horror, anguish and indignation, at the bare rumor; but hope whispered her illusive thoughts and suggested to horrified souls hundreds of plausible doubts. All this was dispelled, however, by the appearance of our Third Edition, about noon, containing a special dispatch from Capt. T. Cluney, who witnessed the assassination. This scattered the last ray of hope that we had been the victims of a cruel hoax and shut the community in a cloud of thick, impenetrable gloom from which it has not yet emerged, and through which few rays of light yet break.”

Complete Transcript

Chautauqua Democrat Extra - - 2d Edition

Reported Death of / ABM. LINCOLN

Attack on / Secretary SEWARD.

                                                Dispatch recieved at Jamestown, Saturday, April 15, 1865.

Sec. Seward was attacked at the time of Lincoln’s assassination and severely wounded.

Particulars of the President’s assassination, as received at 9 10 this morning:

While the President was sitting in his Private Box at the Theatre, the Assassin entered his box and suddenly fired a pistol at him, the ball entered the back part of his head and penetrated nearly through the skull. At 2:50 A.M. the President was still alive, but insensible and completely helpless.

President died at 7:22 this Saturday morning.

Frank [sic: Frederick W.]Seward, Assistant Secretary of State, was also attacked and severely wounded.

We are indebted to ARTHUR, A & G.W.R. for the above particulars.

The Chautauqua Democrat (NY) (1853-1891) was a weekly newspaper in Jamestown, in western New York’s Chautauqua County on the shore of Lake Erie. John Warren Fletcher (1819-1896) was the first publisher. In April 1865, his half-brother, Adolphus B. Fletcher (1837-1916) became co-publisher with future Colorado Governor Davis H. Waite (1825-1901), who also served as the editor.

The source of the information, Lyman Arthur, was an 18-year-old telegraph operator at the depot of the Atlantic and Great Western Railway, which combined three separate railroads running from Little Valley, New York, through Jamestown, to Pittsburgh and Dayton, Ohio.


First edition:

Second edition, as here (corrects spelling of “assassination”; adds “2d Edition”):


Condition: Folds; foxing; edge wear.