Home / President Lincoln’s White House Staff and the Assassination at Ford’s Theatre

President Lincoln’s White House Staff and the Assassination at Ford’s Theatre

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President and Mrs. Lincoln employed a memorable staff at the White House. Most of the employees performed routine assignments but others were involved in high drama. One such employee was the messenger Charles Forbes.

Forbes was on the presidential carriage the night of April 14, 1865. He acted as a messenger and checked on the presidential party during the evening. He and White House guard John F. Parker went to a nearby bar to have a drink during the intermission at Ford’s Theatre.

Charles Forbes allowed John Wilkes Booth into Lincoln’s box, and consequently Mrs. Lincoln held Forbes responsible for the president’s assassination. To deflect the blame, Forbes filed a formal complaint against Parker, charging him with leaving his post outside the president’s box to have a drink. Patrolman Parker was later tried and acquitted.

Historians may argue about the circumstances surrounding the absence of Charles Forbes and John Parker at such a pivotal time, just prior to the assassination of President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. The attendance of Lincoln’s sons at the Grover Theater at the time of the assassination adds more unanswered questions for historians to research.

Lincoln’s sons were both at the Grover Theater watching Aladdin at the time of the assassination. Alphonso Dunn and Thomas Pendal accompanied them. An argument could be made that if the sons had attended the show at Ford’s Theatre, it might have required more people to accompany the presidential entourage thereby making it more difficult to gain access to the president.

In addition, President and Mrs. Lincoln would have had to divide their attention between tending to their children and watching the show. This heightened state of alertness may have resulted in thwarting the assassination attempt.

President Abraham Lincoln had no bodyguards in the modern sense. Lax security was a problem, in retrospect, because the South had been routed and people such as John Wilkes Booth did not accept the outcome of the Civil War.

Forbes was just one of the Lincoln White House staff’s interesting characters. It also included the butler/waiter Peter Brown, a cook named Cornelia Mitchell, an usher named Edward, and others.  Many of the employees were Irish-Americans, like Thomas Burns, the doorkeeper at the White House front door.

President and Mrs. Lincoln employed a staff that continues to fascinate historians due to the diverse backgrounds of the employees and the complex personal relationships which emerged at a pivotal point in American History.

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About Dr Joseph S Maresca

I've taught approx. 34 sections of collegiate courses including computer applications, college algebra, collegiate statistics, law, accounting, finance and economics. The experience includes service as a Board Director on the CPA Journal and Editor of the CPA Candidates Inc. Newsletter. In college, I worked as a statistics lab assistant. Manhattan College awarded a BS in an allied area of operations research. The program included courses in calculus, ordinary differential equations, probability, statistical inference, linear algebra , the more advanced operations research, price analysis and econometrics. Membership in the Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society was granted together with the degree. My experience includes both private account and industry. In addition, I've worked extensively in the Examinations Division of the AICPA from time to time. Recently, I passed the Engineering in Training Exam which consisted of 9 hours of examination in chemistry, physics, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, probability/ statistics, fluids, electronics, materials science/structure of matter, mechanics, statics, thermodynamics, computer science, dynamics and a host of minor subject areas like engineering economics. A very small percentage of engineers actually take and pass the EIT exam. The number has hovered at circa 5%. Several decades ago, I passed the CPA examination and obtained another license in Computer Information Systems Auditing. A CISA must have knowledge in the areas of data center review, systems applications, the operating system of the computer, disaster recovery, contingency planning, developmental systems, the standards which govern facility reviews and a host of other areas. An MBA in Accounting with an Advanced Professional Certificate in Computer Applications/ Information Systems , an Advanced Professional Certificate in Finance and an Advanced Professional Certificate in Organizational Design were earned at New York University-Graduate School of Business (Stern ). In December of 2005, an earned PhD in Accounting was granted by the Ross College. The program entrance requires a previous Masters Degree for admittance together with a host of other criteria. The REGISTRAR of Ross College contact is: Tel . US 202-318-4454 FAX [records for Dr. Joseph S. Maresca Box 646 Bronxville NY 10708-3602] The clinical experience included the teaching of approximately 34 sections of college accounting, economics, statistics, college algebra, law, thesis project coursework and the professional grading of approx. 50,000 CPA examination essays with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, membership is held in the Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society chartered in 1994. Significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences.