Delaware author explores ‘Lincoln’s Final Hours’

    Lithograph of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. From left to right: Henry Rathbone

    Lithograph of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. From left to right: Henry Rathbone

    It’s been 151 years since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, but books about that historic day still remain of big interest.

    Wilmington’s Kathy Canavan recently authored one of them.

    While many books center around on the events of that day and the people directly involved in the assassination and investigation of the 16th president, Canavan decided to take another approach.

    “I was standing in this tiny back bedroom where the president died, and I looked at the bed and it dawned on me for the first time, ‘Peterson’s continued to operate as a boarding house after the president died.’ And I became fascinated by the boarders who had surrounded the president, and almost nothing had been written about the ordinary people who were involved in an extraordinary night in American history.”

    In the book, “Lincoln’s Final Hours,” Canavan writes about the various untold stories of the men and women who came in and out of Peterson’s Boarding House in Washington, DC where President Lincoln was taken following the shooting.

    “He was shot in Ford’s Theatre, but it wasn’t just the date of our first presidential assassination, April 14, 1865, it was on the church calendar as Good Friday. So it would have been, in 1865, a scandal to have the President of the United States die in a theater on Good Friday. And the doctors knew that, so they searched for a place to take him just to make him comfortable. They knew he couldn’t survive the gunshot wound. So they took him across [the street] to Peterson House.”

    Other interesting accounts in “Lincoln’s Final Hours” include the story of a former acting colleague of John Wilkes Booth. Canavan writes how Booth was about to reveal his plot to kill the president to the friend, and then suddenly changed his mind when he realized his former friend was now an officer in the Union Navy.

    Canavan, who is a journalist, took four years to research and verify the stories and another year to write the book. She says during that process she received lots of help from what she calls “pay it forward Lincoln experts” who care about the accuracy and preservation of the history of Abraham Lincoln.

    One of those generous experts, author Ed Steers, was so impressed with Canavan’s manuscript that he offered to write the book’s forward, and was instrumental in securing the publishing deal.

    A first-time author at 65, Canavan said seeing her book in stores was “surreal.” She’s now fascinating others with the accounts from her book as she attends reading and speaking engagements across the country to promote her book. “Lincoln’s Final Hours” is available in bookstores.

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