Union League Heritage Center, Abraham Lincoln Foundation: Lincoln Assassination Testimony Reported by James Tanner

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In 1865, Corporal James Tanner was a disabled Civil War veteran working as a clerk in the Ordnance Bureau of the War Department and living in an apartment next to the Peterson House in Washington, D.C. On April 14th, President Abraham Lincoln was shot during a theatre performance at Ford’s Theatre. The mortally wounded President was taken to the Petersen House. Because he had stenography skills, Tanner was called into the Peterson House. While Lincoln lay dying in the bedroom, Tanner sat in the parlor and recorded eyewitness testimony as given to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and David Kellogg Carrter, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia. The interrogation of the witnesses took place between midnight and 1:30 A.M. “In fifteen minutes I had testimony enough to hang Wilkes Booth, the assassin, higher than ever Haman hung” noted Tanner. While still in the parlor, Tanner transcribed his shorthand notes into longhand, finishing his task at 6:45 A.M. Tanner returned to his apartment and, dissatisfied with the quality of the first transcription, began a second copy which he left with an aide of Stanton’s at his office in the War Department. Tanner retained the original testimony. The copy deposited at the War Department was lost. In 1905, Tanner’s son took his father’s first transcription and mounted each sheet on linen and bound them.

Title: Lincoln assassination testimony reported by James Tanner
Authors: Tanner, James, 1844-1927
Call number: XI.2.Lincolniana
(Philadelphia, Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League)
Publisher: Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League
Language: English.
Date: 1865
Place: Washington (D.C.)
Subjects names: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865; United States. President (1861-1865 : Lincoln)
Subjects topical: Presidents–Assassination
Subjects geographic: Washington (D.C.), United States–Politics and government–1861-1865
Genres: Testimonies

Table of Contents:
(links lead to pages on OPenn)
  • fol. 2r — Statement by James Tanner
  • fol. 2v — Handwritten note: 2/27/1909 Interview with Henry Hawk, signed James A. Tanner
  • fol. 3r — Newspaper clipping: “Tanner Also Present …”
  • fol. 4r — Shorthand notes
  • fol. 6r — Testimony of Alfred Cloughly
  • fol. 14r — Shorthand notes
  • fol. 15r — Testimony of Mr. A.M.S. Crawford
  • fol. 19r — Shorthand notes
  • fol. 19v — Handwritten note: 2/27/1909 Interview with William Henry Hawk, signed James A. Tanner
  • fol. 20r — Statement of William Henry Hawk
  • fol. 22r — Shorthand notes
  • fol. 23v — Handwritten note: James C. Ferguson kept a saloon next to Ford’s Theatre
  • fol. 24r — Statement of James C. Ferguson
  • fol. 28r — Shorthand notes
  • fol. 29v — Handwritten note: H.B. Philips: Stage manager at Ford’s and an old Philadelphian
  • fol. 30r — Statement of Mr. Henry B. Philips
  • fol. 33r — Shorthand notes
  • fol. 34r — Statement of Colonel G.V. Rutherford
  • fol. 35r — Notarized statement that facts recorded are true and correct