United States President Abraham Lincoln was mortally shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre as the American Civil War was drawing to a close. The assassination occurred five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac.
Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated. An unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson 30 years before in 1835, and Lincoln had himself been the subject of an earlier assassination attempt by an unknown assailant in August 1864. The assassination of Lincoln was planned and carried out by the well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth, as part of a larger conspiracy in a bid to revive the Confederate cause.
Booth’s three co-conspirators were Lewis Powell and David Herold, who were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and George Atzerodt who was asked to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson. By simultaneously eliminating the top three people in the administration, Booth and his co-conspirators hoped to sever the continuity of the United States government. Lincoln was shot and died early the next morning. The rest of the conspirators’ plot failed; Powell only managed to wound Seward, while Atzerodt, Johnson’s would-be assassin, lost his nerve and fled. The funeral and burial of Lincoln was a period of national mourning.
In late 1860, Booth had been initiated in the pro-Confederate Knights of the Golden Circle in Baltimore. In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant, the commanding general of all the Union’s armies, decided to suspend the exchange of prisoners-of-war. As harsh as it may have been on the prisoners of both sides, Grant realized the exchange was prolonging the war by returning soldiers to the outnumbered and manpower-starved South. John Wilkes Booth, a Southerner and outspoken Confederate sympathizer, conceived a plan to kidnap President Lincoln and deliver him to the Confederate Army, to be held hostage until the North agreed to resume exchanging prisoners. Booth recruited Samuel Arnold, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Michael O’Laughlen, Lewis Powell (also known as “Lewis Paine”), and John Surratt to help him. Surratt’s mother, Mary Surratt, left her tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland, and moved to a house in Washington, D.C., where Booth became a frequent visitor.
While Booth and Lincoln did not know each other, Lincoln did know about Booth and enjoyed watching him perform at Ford’s Theatre. Lincoln watched Booth perform in numerous plays, including one called The Marble Heart at Ford’s on November 9, 1863. The Washington Chronicle called it a “beautiful emotional play” and Booth earned rave reviews for his role in the production. According to Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home, Lincoln enjoyed Booth’s performance so much he sent a note backstage inviting him to the White House so they could meet. Booth, a rebel sympathizer and Confederate spy, evaded the president’s invitation. Booth didn’t give Lincoln a specific reason why he couldn’t visit but he later told his friends “I would rather have the applause of a Negro to that of the president!” According to Inside Lincoln’s White House, the actor Frank Mordaunt later corroborated this story:
Lincoln was an admirer of the man who assassinated him. I know that, for he said to me one day that there was a young actor over in Ford’s Theater whom he desired to meet, but that the actor had on one pretext or another avoided any invitations to visit the White House. That actor was John Wilkes Booth.”
On March 17, 1865, Booth informed his conspirators that Lincoln would be attending a play, Still Waters Run Deep, at Campbell Military Hospital. He assembled his men in a restaurant at the edge of town, intending that they should soon join him on a nearby stretch of road in order to capture the President on his way back from the hospital. But Booth found out that Lincoln had not gone to the play after all. Instead, he had attended a ceremony at the National Hotel in which officers of the 142nd Indiana Infantry presented Governor Oliver Morton with a captured Confederate battle flag.
Meanwhile, the Confederacy was falling apart. On April 3, Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, fell to the Union army. On April 9, 1865, the Army of Northern Virginia, the main army of the Confederacy, surrendered to the Army of the Potomac at Appomattox Court House. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and the rest of his government were in full flight. Despite many Southerners giving up hope, Booth continued to believe in his cause.
It is widely believed that Lincoln anticipated his assassination. According to Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend and biographer, three days before his assassination Lincoln discussed with Lamon and others a dream he had, saying:
About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers, ‘The President,’ was his answer; ‘he was killed by an assassin.’ Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since.
On the day of the assassination, Lincoln had told his bodyguard, William H. Crook, that he had been having dreams of himself being assassinated for three straight nights. Crook advised Lincoln not to go that night to Ford’s Theatre, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go. As Lincoln left for the theater, he turned to Crook and said, “Goodbye, Crook.” According to Crook, this was the first time he said that. Before, Lincoln had always said, “Good night, Crook.” Crook later recalled: “It was the first time that he neglected to say ‘Good Night’ to me and it was the only time that he ever said ‘Good-bye’. I thought of it at that moment and, a few hours later, when the news flashed over Washington that he had been shot, his last words were so burned into my being that they can never be forgotten.”
On April 14, 1865, Booth’s morning started at the stroke of midnight. Lying wide awake in his bed at the National Hotel, he wrote his mother that all was well, but that he was “in haste”. In his diary, he wrote that “Our cause being almost lost, something decisive and great must be done”.
Lincoln’s day started well for the first time in a long time; he woke up cheerful. Senator James Harlan remembered taking a drive with the Lincolns only days before the president’s assassination, and found him transformed. “His whole appearance, poise and bearing had marvelously changed. He was, in fact, transfigured. That indescribable sadness which had previously seemed to be an adamantean element in his very being, had been suddenly exchanged for an equally indescribable expression of serene joy as if conscious that the great purpose of his life had been achieved.” Hugh McCulloch, the new Secretary of the Treasury, remarked that on that morning, “I never saw Mr. Lincoln so cheerful and happy”. Edwin M. Stanton said: “At the earliest moment yesterday, the President called a cabinet meeting, at which Gen. Grant was present. He was more cheerful and happy than I had ever seen him. He rejoiced at the near prospect of a firm and durable peace at home and abroad, which manifested in a marked degree the soundness and honesty of his disposition, and the tender and forgiving spirit that so eminently distinguished him.” No one could miss the difference. For months, the President had looked pale and haggard. Lincoln himself told people how happy he was. This caused First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln some concern, as she believed that saying such things out loud was bad luck. Lincoln paid her no heed. Lincoln told members of his cabinet that he had dreamed that he was on a “singular and indescribable vessel that was moving with great rapidity toward a dark and indefinite shore.” He also revealed that he’d had the same dream repeatedly on previous occasions, before “nearly every great and important event of the War” such as the victories at Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg and Vicksburg.
At around noon while visiting Ford’s Theatre to pick up his mail (Booth had a permanent mailbox there), Booth learned from the brother of John Ford, the owner, that the President and General Grant would be attending the theatre to see Our American Cousin that night. Booth determined that this was the perfect opportunity for him to do something “decisive”.He knew the theater’s layout, having performed there several times, as recently as the previous month.
That same afternoon, Booth went to Mary Surratt’s boarding house in Washington, D.C. and asked her to deliver a package to her tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland. He also requested Surratt to tell her tenant who resided there to have the guns and ammunition that Booth had previously stored at the tavern ready to be picked up later that evening. She complied with Booth’s requests and made the trip, along with Louis J. Weichmann, her boarder and son’s friend. This exchange, and her compliance in it, would lead directly to Surratt’s execution three months later.
At seven o’clock that evening, John Wilkes Booth met for a final time with all his fellow conspirators. Booth assigned Lewis Powell to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward at his home, George Atzerodt to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson at his residence, the Kirkwood Hotel, and David E. Herold to guide Powell to the Seward house and then out of Washington to rendezvous with Booth in Maryland. Booth planned to shoot Lincoln with his single-shot Deringer and then stab Grant with a knife at Ford’s Theatre. They were all to strike simultaneously shortly after ten o’clock that night. Atzerodt wanted nothing to do with it, saying he had only signed up for a kidnapping, not a killing. Booth told him he was in too far to back out.
Contrary to the information Booth had overheard, General and Mrs. Grant had declined the invitation to see the play with the Lincolns, as Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Grant were not on good terms. Several other people were invited to join them, until finally Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris (daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris) accepted. Lincoln told Speaker Schuyler Colfax, “I suppose it’s time to go though I would rather stay.” He assisted Mary into the carriage and they took off.
The Lincoln party arrived late and settled into the Presidential Box, which was actually two corner box seats with the dividing wall between them removed. The play was stopped briefly and the orchestra played “Hail to the Chief” as the audience gave the president a rousing standing ovation. Ford’s Theatre was full with 1,700 in attendance. Mary Lincoln whispered to her husband, who was holding her hand, “What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?” The president smiled and replied, “She won’t think anything about it”. Those were the last words ever spoken by Abraham Lincoln, although it was claimed he later told his wife he desired to visit the Holy Land, finishing by saying, “There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem.”
The box was supposed to be guarded by a policeman named John Frederick Parker who, by all accounts, was a curious choice for a bodyguard. During the intermission, Parker went to a nearby tavern with Lincoln’s footman and coachman. It is unclear whether he ever returned to the theatre, but he was certainly not at his post when Booth entered the box. Nevertheless, even if a policeman had been present it is questionable at best as to whether he would have denied entry to the Presidential Box to a premier actor such as John Wilkes Booth – Booth’s celebrity status meant that his approach did not warrant any questioning from audience members, who assumed he was coming to call on the President. Dr. George Brainerd Todd, a Navy Surgeon who had been aboard when the Lincolns visited his ship the monitor Montauk on April 14, was also present at Ford’s Theatre that evening and wrote in an eyewitness account.
About 10:25 pm, a man came in and walked slowly along the side on which the “Pres” box was and I heard a man say, “There’s Booth” and I turned my head to look at him. He was still walking very slow and was near the box door when he stopped, took a card from his pocket, wrote something on it, and gave it to the usher who took it to the box. In a minute the door was opened and he walked in.
Upon gaining access through the first door of the entry to the Presidential Box, Booth barricaded the inward-swinging door behind him with a wooden stick that he wedged between the wall and the door. He then turned around, and looked through the tiny peep-hole he had carved in the second door (which granted entry to the Presidential Box) earlier that day. Although he had never starred in the play itself, Booth knew the play by heart, and thus waited for the precise moment when actor Harry Hawk (playing the lead role of the “cousin”, Asa Trenchard), would be on stage alone to speak what was considered the funniest line of the play. Booth hoped to employ the enthusiastic response of the audience to muffle the sound of his gunshot. With the stage to himself, Asa (Hawk) responded to the recently departed Mrs. Mountchessington, “Don’t know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!” Hysterical laughter began permeating the theatre. Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot.
Booth opened the door, crept forward and shot the President at point-blank range, mortally wounding him. The bullet struck the back of Lincoln’s head behind his left ear, entered his skull, fractured part of it badly and went through the left side of his brain before lodging just above his right eye almost exiting the other side of his head. Lincoln immediately lost consciousness. Lincoln slumped over in his rocking chair, and then backward. Mary reached out, caught him, and then screamed when she realized what had happened.
Upon hearing the gunshot, Rathbone thought Booth shouted a word that sounded like “Freedom!” He quickly jumped from his seat and tried to prevent Booth from escaping, grabbing and struggling with him. Booth dropped the pistol on the floor and drew a knife, stabbing the major violently in the left forearm and reaching the bone. Rathbone quickly recovered and again tried to grab Booth as he was preparing to jump from the sill of the box. He grabbed onto Booth’s coat causing Booth to vault over the rail of the box down to the stage below (about a twelve-foot drop). In the process, Booth’s right boot struck the framed engraving of Washington, turning it completely over and his riding spur became entangled on the Treasury flag decorating the box, and he landed awkwardly on his left foot. He raised himself up despite the injury and began crossing the stage, making the audience believe that he was part of the play. Booth held his bloody knife over his head, and yelled something to the audience.
While it is widely believed that Booth shouted “Sic semper tyrannis!” (the Virginia state motto, meaning “Thus always to tyrants” in Latin) in the box, or when he landed on the stage, it’s not actually clear whether the traditionally-cited quote by Booth is accurate. There are different “earwitness” accounts of what he said. While most witnesses recalled hearing Booth shout “Sic semper tyrannis!”, others — including Booth himself — claimed that he only yelled “Sic semper!” Some didn’t recall hearing Booth shout anything in Latin. What Booth shouted in English is also muddied by varying recollections. Some witnesses said he shouted “The South is avenged!” Others thought they heard him say “Revenge for the South!” or “The South shall be free!” Two said Booth yelled “I have done it!”
While the audience was yet to realize what had happened, Maj. Joseph B. Stewart, a lawyer, rose instantly upon seeing Booth land on the stage and he climbed over the orchestra pit and footlights, and started pursuing Booth across the stage. Mary Lincoln’s and Clara Harris’ screams and Rathbone’s cries of “Stop that man!” caused the rest of the audience to realize that Booth’s actions were not part of the show, and pandemonium immediately broke out.
Some of the men in the audience chased after him when they noticed what was going on, but failed to catch him. Booth ran across the stage just when Rathbone shouted and exited out the side door. On his way, he bumped into William Withers, Jr., the orchestra leader, and Booth stabbed at Withers with a knife.
Upon leaving the building, Booth approached the horse he had waiting outside. Booth struck Joseph “Peanuts” (also called “Peanut Johnny”) Burroughs, who was holding Booth’s horse in the forehead with the handle of his knife, leaped on to the horse, apparently also kicking Burroughs in the chest with his good leg, and rode away.
Katherine M. Evans, a young actress in the play, who was offstage in Ford’s green room when Lincoln was shot, rushed on the stage after Booth’s exit, and said in subsequent interviews in the 1900s “I looked and saw President Lincoln unconscious, his head dropping on his breast, his eyes closed, but with a smile still on his face”.
Charles Leale, a young Army surgeon doctor on liberty for the night, and attending the play, made his way through the crowd to the door at the rear of the Presidential box when he saw Booth finish his performance to the audience and saw the blood on Booth’s knife. The door would not open. Finally, Rathbone saw a notch carved in the door and a wooden brace jammed there to hold the door shut. Rathbone shouted to Leale, who stepped back from the door, allowing Rathbone to remove the brace and open the door.
Leale entered the box to find Rathbone bleeding profusely from a deep gash in his chest that ran the length of his upper left arm as well as a long slash in his arm. Nonetheless, he passed Rathbone by and stepped forward to find Lincoln slumped in his chair, held up by Mary, who was sobbing and could not control herself. The President was paralyzed, and barely breathing. Leale lowered the President to the floor believing that Lincoln had been stabbed in the shoulder with the knife. A second doctor in the audience, Charles Sabin Taft, was lifted bodily from the stage over the railing and into the box.
Dr. Todd, also seated in the audience, stated: “I attempted to get to the box, but I could not, and in an instant, the cry was raised ‘The President is assassinated’. Such a scene I never saw before.” Taft and Leale cut away Lincoln’s blood-stained collar and opened his shirt, and Leale, feeling around by hand, discovered the bullet hole in the back of his head right next to his left ear. Leale attempted to remove the bullet, but the bullet was too deep in his head and instead Leale dislodged a clot of blood in the wound. Consequently, Lincoln’s breathing improved. Leale learned that if he continued to release more blood clots at a specific time, Lincoln would breathe more naturally. Then Leale saw that the bullet was lodged in Lincoln’s skull. He allowed actress Laura Keene to cradle the President’s head in her lap. Leale finally announced that it made no difference: “His wound is mortal. It is impossible for him to recover.”
Dr. Todd reported that as news of the assassination spread to the street, “Soldiers, sailors, police, all started in every direction but the assassin had gone. Some General handed me a note and bid me go to the nearest Telegraph office and arouse the nation. I ran with all my speed, and in ten minutes the sad news was all over the country.”
Leale, Taft, and another doctor from the audience, Albert King, quickly consulted and decided that while the President must be moved, a bumpy carriage ride across town to the White House was out of the question. After briefly considering Peter Taltavull’s Star Saloon next door, they chose to carry Lincoln across the street and find a house. The three doctors and some soldiers who had been in the audience carried the President out the front entrance of Ford’s Theatre. One of the soldiers who carried the President, was William Hall, a grocer, who originated from North East England, who, during the civil war originally signed up for the 12th Illinois Cavalry. Rain fell down upon the crowd that carried Lincoln outside the theater.
Across the street, a man was holding a lantern and calling “Bring him in here! Bring him in here!” The man was Henry Safford, a boarder at William Petersen’s boarding house known today at the Petersen House. The men carried Lincoln into the boarding house and into the first-floor bedroom where they laid him diagonally across the bed because his tall frame would not fit normally on the smaller bed. A vigil began at the Petersen House. The three physicians were joined by Surgeon General of the United States Army Joseph K. Barnes, Charles Henry Crane, Anderson Ruffin Abbott, and Robert K. Stone. Using a probe, Barnes located some fragments of Lincoln’s skull and discovered the bullet was still in his skull. Crane was a major and Barnes’ assistant. Stone was Lincoln’s personal physician. Robert Lincoln, home at the White House that evening, arrived at the Petersen House after being told of the shooting at about midnight. Tad Lincoln, who had attended Grover’s Theatre to see Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, was not allowed to go to the Petersen House, although he was at Grover’s Theatre when the play was interrupted to report the news of the President’s assassination.
Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton came and took charge of the scene. Mary Lincoln was so distrait that Stanton ordered her out of the room, then set up shop in the rear parlor, effectively running the United States government for several hours, sending and receiving telegrams, taking reports from witnesses, and issuing orders for the pursuit of Booth. For most of the night, Leale held the president’s hand, and afterwards said that “sometimes, recognition and reason return just before departure. I held his hand firmly to let him know, in his blindness, that he had a friend.”
Lincoln died at 7:22:10 a.m. on April 15, 1865. He was 56 years old. According to Lincoln’s secretary John Hay, at the moment of Lincoln’s death, “a look of unspeakable peace came upon his worn features”.
Mary Lincoln was not present at the time of his death and neither were his children.The crowd around the bed knelt for a prayer. When they were finished, Stanton made a statement, though there is some disagreement among historians as to what exactly the statement was. All agree that he began “Now he belongs to the …” with some stating he finished with ages while others believe he finished with angels. Hermann Faber, an Army medical illustrator, was brought into the room immediately after Lincoln’s body was removed so that Faber could visually document the scene.
Though some experts have disagreed, Dr. Leale’s treatment of Lincoln has been considered good for its time. He was honored for his efforts to save the President by participating in various capacities during the funeral ceremonies.
Although both Abe and Mary were from Kentucky their food tastes were very different. He was from a rural area and preferred simple country food like corn cakes, whereas she was from the bluegrass and enjoyed much finer dishes. Here is her recipe for Vanilla Almond Cake and her frosting taken from The Presidents’ Cookbook, Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks [Funk & Wagnalls:New York] 1968 (pp. 256-258)
Mary Todd’s Vanilla Almond Cake
There are reports attributable to President Lincoln that this cake of his wife’s was the best he ever ate…This delicious cake was the invention of Monsieur Giron, a Lexington [KY] caterer, who created it in honor of the visit to that city in 1825 of his fellow Frenchman, Lafayette. The Todd family acquired the recipe and cherished it ever after. The baking powder must have been added at a later date.
Vanilla (or almond extract)
Cream together 2 cups sugar with 1 cup butter. Sift 3 cups flour and 3 teaspoons baking powder three times and add to the butter-sugar mixture alternately with 1 cup milk. Chop 1 cup blanched almonds until very fine and add them to the mixture. Beat vigorously, then fold in 6 stiffly beaten egg whites carefully. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, then fold in 6 stiffly beaten egg whites carefully. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla (almond extract if you prefer) and pour the mixture into a greased and floured angel-cake pan. Bake in a a preheated moderate (350 degree F.) oven for approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake’s center. Turn the cake out on a wire rack and allow to cool before frosting it. This makes a very large cake. If you prefer, you can bake it in 2 9-inch layer-cake pans. The cake may be made without the almonds and is a splendid plain white cake, very light and good.
Mary Todd’s Candied Fruit Frosting
Vanilla (or almond extract)
Beat 2 egg whites until very stiff. Set aside for a moment. Beat together 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water until the syrup spins a thread about five inches long. Then slowly fold into the egg whites, a spoonful at a time, very slowly, beating well with an electric beater as you add. Beat at top speed (very hard if you use a hand beater) until all the syrup is used and the mixture forms peaks when dropped from a spoon. When stiff, slowly add 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Fold into the mixture 1/2 cup diced candied pineapple and 1/2 cup crystallized cherries cut in half. Spread between the layers and over the top and sides of the vanilla almond cake. If desired, the candied fruit may be eliminated. The frosting is delicious without them.”
Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration supper was evidently a riotous affair with dishes that obviously reflects Mary’s tastes. It was recounted in several magazines and newspapers by a variety of reporters. This is excerpted from the New York Times reporter’s account. He was not named, just noted as “Special Correspondence.”
The ornamentation of the table, though limited in extent, was in excellent taste, and perhaps quite as profuse os the unfortunately small space devoted to the supper would permit. There were three leading and conspicuous pieces form the confectioner’s hands, placed at approprote points in the centre and at each end of the table; in the centre, our imposing Capitol–perfect in minature; at one end an exquisite representation of the heroic deeds of the gallant army; at the other, a similar device of the proud achievements of the navy. The representation of the Capitol was admirably executed; no detail seemed to be too minute for imitation. Even the lamps at the entrance seemed to give forth light. The columns, pedestals, cornices, frieses, entablatures, windows, situary, and the majestic dome, and towering above all else, the Goddess of Liberty, were all there as perfect as mould and model could make them. In addition, there were several allegorical representations of the progress of civilization, the genius, the arts, the sciences and literature of the day. The piece on the right was in honor of the army; and the glory and fame of the defenders of our liberty were illustrated by a pyramid, around which were clustered in tasteful profusion all the insignia of war, the paraphernalia of battle and the emblem of victory. The navy was honored in the same manner, the representation being surmounted with Admiral Farragut’s old flagship Hartford, gallantly riding the withe crested waves, while aloft might be seen the Admiral himself lashed to the rigging, emblematical of the old hero’s achievements in the Bay of Mobile; then battered Fort Sumter, the sad epitome of secession; then Neptune with chariot and trident, and the Goddess of Liberty, inspiring the brave sailor to greater glory and higher fame. There were other ornamentations, principally pyramids of which the detail is unimportant, for nougats, croquant, and chocolate are the same here as elsewhere. The bill of fare provided a select and tasteful variety, and no better idea of it can be obtained than by inserting it right here verbatim.
Oyster stews, terrapin stews, oysters pickled; beef–roast beef, filet of beef, beef à la mode, beef à l’anglais; veal–leg of veal, fricandeau, veal Malakoff; poultry–roast turkey, boned turkey, roast chicken; grouse–boned and roast; game–pheasant, quail, venison, patetes, patetes of duck en gelée, paté de fois gras; smoked ham, tongue en gelée, tongue plain; salades, chicken, lobster; ornamental pyramids–nougate, orange, caramel with cream candy, coconut, macaroon, croquant, chocolate; three cakes–cakes and tarts, almond sponge, belle alliance, dame blanche, macaroon tart, tart à la Nelson, tarte à l’Orleans, tarte à la Portuguese, tarte à la Vienne, pound cake, sponge cake, lady cake, fancy small cakes; jellies and creams–calf’s foot and wine jelly, Charlotte é la Russe, Charlotte à la vanilla blanc mange, creme Neapolitiane, creme à la Nelson, creme Chateaubrand, crème à la Smyrna, crème à la Nesslefored, bombe à la vanilla, ice cream, vanilla, lemon, white coffee, chocolate, burnt almonds, maraschino, fruit ices, cranberry, orange, lemon; dessert–grapes, almonds, raisins &c., coffee and chocolate.
Most of it is fairly standard stuff. I’ve never had it, but terrapin stew caught my eye – very Southern. This is an old plantation recipe, published in Mrs. Fishers Cookbook. Mrs. Fisher was an illiterate slave from Mobile, Alabama. She started cooking for San Francisco society around 1870.
2 female terrapins
1 cup water
½ lb butter, unsalted
2 cups sherry wine
1 teaspoon mustard
1 tablespoon wine
½ cup sweet cream (optional)
1 teaspoon allspice
salt and pepper
Put the terrapins alive in boiling water.
Let them remain for fifteen minutes and then take the shells from them, being careful not to break the galls.
Clean the entrails from the meat, and scrape the black skin from the feet with a knife.
After thoroughly cleaning the terrapins, lay then in a clear water for ten minutes, and then put then in a kettle to stew with 1 cup of water, and stew very slowly for about three hours.
Boil the eggs hard, and rub the yelks (sic) to a powder.
Then add the butter to the eggs and beat together until it becomes cream.
To this cream add the sherry wine and mix it well.
Then add this preparation to the stew very gradually, stirring well, so as to thoroughly mix it in.
While the stew is cooking, mix the mustard and the tbsp of wine and put in.
Slice one lemon add to stew just before dishing it up for table.
Three hours is sufficient time to cook it.
You had better put the wine in the stew and not mix it with the eggs, for fear you may not mix it in right and that there may be no mistake.
With the above directions you have a perfect stew.
½ cup of sweet cream is an improvement, if you like it: also the allspice.