Tuesday, February 23, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1868


Baltimore, Maryland (JFK+50) After being informed of an assassination plot brewing here in Baltimore, President-elect Abraham Lincoln agreed to bypass his scheduled stop and arrived in the National Capital safely 155 years ago this morning, February 23, 1861.

Detectives of the Pinkerton Agency, led by Alan Pinkerton, uncovered the plot about a week before by pro-secessionist Marylanders planning to assassinate Lincoln during his stop in Baltimore.

Mr. Lincoln's journey from his home in Springfield, Illinois began on Monday, February 11, 1961.  The president-elect spoke to a crowd which had gathered to say goodbye.  He said...

"I now leave, not knowing when or whether I shall return..."

Lincoln's journey would take him through 70 cities and towns, but the one deemed most dangerous was Baltimore.  The president-elect originally had planned a 2 1/2 hour stop there including a ride in an open carriage, but Pinkerton's investigation would result in a drastic change.

Pinkerton, acting undercover, met with the leader of "a small handful of men," Captain Cypriano Ferrandino, a Corsican immigrant who told him of the "outrage" his people had against Lincoln's election.  Ferrandino expressed the view that killing Lincoln was "fully justified."

The plot called for a diversionary event at the Calvert Street railroad station during which a selected plotter would board the train and shoot Lincoln.

Mr. Pinkerton and Mr. Lincoln met in Philadelphia where the plot was discussed.  Lincoln was advised to take a late-night train to Washington, but he declined saying that he had a commitment to raise the flag at Independence Hall and visit the Pennsylvania legislature at Harrisburg the next morning. The president-elect, however, said that after those events, he would be willing to follow Pinkerton's alternative plan.

Lincoln traveled to Baltimore in darkness, a 200 mile journey involving two train changes.  One of those changes took place at the Camden Street station where after a short delay Lincoln was on his way to Washington, D.C.

The next POTUS departed a sleeping car wearing "a thick...shawl and soft, low-covered hat."  He was escorted, without fanfare, to the Willard Hotel.  Thanks to Allan Pinkerton and his operatives, the plot had been foiled.

While Mr. Lincoln had avoided an assassination attempt, he could not avoid the attack on his personal courage by the national press.  He was depicted in editorial cartoons as having arrived in Washington "like a thief in the night." 


"The Unsuccessful Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln," by Daniel Stashower, Smithsonian Magazine, February 2013,

Lincoln Sneaking In to Washington
Harper's Weekly  
March 9, 1861