The last day of his life was actually one of the best days of his life.
The Lincoln Memorial is an incredible building, built to a great president but also a man. A flesh and blood man who had a birth and also died. It's a famous death of martyred president, assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. But the ironic thing about that fateful April 14th, 1865, was the fact that for Lincoln, up until that gunshot, it was a very good day. One of the first great days he had had in a very long time. His life is a story of difficulty and touched by, you know, kind of separation from family, separation from friends. A man who never really fit in. Self-conscious about the way he looked. His lack of education, where he came from. But finally he worked hard and was dedicated and moved up to becoming president of the United States. And then it was also that was not as great as he wanted it to be. That was not the dream he wanted. It was a tragic term as president. Four years of Civil War, death and destruction and pain, so, finally, after Robert E. Lee surrendered April 9th, 1865, Lincoln looks towards the rest of his life. And a few days after that surrender April 14th, he wakes up and he has breakfast with his family. He thinks about, what should I do tonight? I should go to the theater. I love the theater. So he decided to send out word to Ford's Theater to prepare the presidential box that night. He asks his wife to come with him. He meets with his oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln. A son that he had a really estranged relationship with most of his life. And but finally, Robert Todd had been at that surrender at Appomattox, and father and son sat down to talk about what happened there, get their own views and for once they were on even ground, seeing eye-to-eye, having a very good conversation. Lincoln actually moved the next meeting, which was with General Grant, back and he combined that with a cabinet meeting for that day. And that cabinet meeting instead of talking about body counts and battles, they finally were kind of, I guess, colleagues. The business of governing. Lincoln talking about his dreams that day and his hopes for the future. Later he would go on a ride with Mary, his wife, Mary Lincoln. And they took a long carriage ride together talking about what to do after the war. He's looking into the future, no longer these times of war and- and depression. We're gonna move forward. Perhaps travel to Europe, perhaps move back to Illinois and start a law practice get past all the strain and stress. Came back to the White House, getting ready for the theater and his last official act as President was actually to sign a pardon for a Confederate spy. So his last act was an act of mercy and tolerance and forgiveness. They got in a carriage with Mary Lincoln, went to pick up some friends and went to the theater. And there in the theater they were applauded as they entered. People cheering him. He's finally accepted in this place, a great man. And moved in the presidential box and settled in to watch the play.
So then, in the darkness of the theater, he reaches over and takes his wife's hand. That simple gesture symbolizing the joys and the triumphs of that day. And she pulls away saying, what will they think of you hanging all over me?
And the last words he will ever say are, they will think nothing of it, my dear.