Niagara Gazette

Opinion

May 26, 2013

GLYNN: Lincoln escapes wild crowd at Buffalo depot

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Herald reporter Henry Villard, who had covered the tumult and shouting on many campaign trails and during massive protests, said it was one of the wildest affairs he had ever witnessed. 

If it  hadn’t been for a small group of men surrounding Lincoln when he stepped down from the train, the day could have turned into disaster. In the story he filed for his newspaper, Villard wrote “The pressure was so great that it is really a wonder that many people were not crushed and trampled to death.”

Viewing the hordes of spectators outside the station seeking to force their way into the receiving area that was filled to capacity, a Lincoln assistant said, “The hub of Barnum’s grizzly bear would have been a tender and fraternal embrace.”

Army Maj. David Hunter, part of the uniformed escort team, was crushed violently against a wall. He spent the remainder of the trip suffering from a dislocated shoulder. Others had broken ribs and some staggered around with blood streaming from facial injuries. “Women fainted and men were crushed under the mass of bodies,” a reporter for the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser stated. After people managed to break free from the ugly scene at the station, almost everyone was expressing the same feeling, “Thank God! We’re okay.”

As for Lincoln, he was so thankful that on the following day he went to church twice in downtown Buffalo. That evening he dined with Fillmore at the former president’s home.

According to countless tips from concerned citizens, the plot to kill Lincoln would unravel at the Baltimore train station, just  38 miles from the nation’s capital. The man most responsible for coordinating the delicate task to safely deliver the next U.S. president was Allan Pinkerton, the controversial founder of the legendary detective agency. Some historians and scholars are severely critical of how he handled the involved project, claiming he was prone to exaggerating many situations.

In end, the “Lincoln Special” bypassed Baltimore and the president-elect was actually smuggled to his destination. The news media, among other observers took offense. Some newspapers called him a coward.

Contact reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.

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