On the Deaths of Presidents

I’m going to pull the lens back a little bit and note the near-congruence of Lincoln’s passing with the 70th Anniversary of Franklin Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945. Death of a President in office, whether by assassination (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, JFK) or natural causes (W. Harrison, Taylor, Harding, FDR) is a trauma for the nation that sticks forever in the memory of the contemporary¬†generation.¬†As an example, people who have a memory of 1963 can tell you where they were when JFK was assassinated.
The timing and manner of Lincoln’s assassination, coupled with the fact he was the first President to die violently in office, was a significant trauma and national tragedy on top of the war that was just ending. The reaction to his death in the Union and what was left of the Confederacy (especially as expressed by Johnston and Breckinridge to Sherman) illustrates the profound impact of the event.

3 Responses to On the Deaths of Presidents

  1. Always love it when you cast a wider context, Chris. Thanks. Each of those deaths have fascinating stories to go with them, too. As a nation, we’ve always been transfixed by Lincoln’s and JFK’s assassinations, but FDR’s death during wartime, Garfield and McKinley’s respective assassinations, and Harrison’s pneumonia all make for interesting tales. Honestly, I don’t know much about Taylor’s death–something for me to go read about….

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