In addition to finally ending the legal nature of slavery in Mississippi, Steven Spielberg’s film ‘Lincoln’ has brought back into light old bits of Lincoln trivia long covered over by time.
Like, for instance, did you know that Samuel J. Seymour, the last witness to Lincoln’s assassination, was alive, if not during your lifetime, then almost definitely during your parents’ lifetime? Seymour was just five when he went to Ford’s Theater that fateful April day to see the play Our American Cousin. According to Seymour, he thought Lincoln’s whiskers made him stern-looking and while he didn’t see the actual shooting, he did Lincoln slumped in his chair and noted as John Wilkes Booth leapt from the balcony to the floor.
“Hurry, hurry,” Seymour begged [his host, Mrs. George] Goldsboro. “Let’s go help the poor man who fell down.”
Not knowing who the man was or what he had just done, Seymour was concerned for his well-being, but John Wilkes Booth’s landing was smooth enough that he escaped the theater and evaded pursuit for almost two weeks.
Just a few weeks before his death in 1956, Seymour appeared on the television show “I’ve Got a Secret” where a panel guessed what his secret was. Seymour died just days before the anniversary of the Lincoln assassination.
Was Seymour Jewish? Details are hard to come by. But he was dragged to the theater at a young age, he believed in tikkun olam, his father oversaw big estates, he remembered tragedies well, and he lived in the DC-area Beltway. So maybe we can just claim him?