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Samuel J. Seymour was the last surviving person who witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Goran Blazeski

Does the name Samuel J. Seymour mean anything to you? Probably not, but his story is quite remarkable, and it deserves all your attention.

Apparently, this man was the last surviving person who witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s Theatre on April 14th, 1865.

Nearly 91 years after President Lincoln was killed, Samuel J. Seymour appeared on the TV game show I’ve Got a Secret and revealed that he witnessed the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln when he was five years old.

Garry Moore was the host of the show on February 9th, 1956, when 96-year-old Seymour whispered to him: “I saw John Wilkes Booth shoot Abraham Lincoln.” The show also featured a panel of celebrities whose task was to guess Mr. Seymour’s secret. Among them were Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan and Lucille Ball.

Jayne Meadows was a regular panellist on the original version of I’ve Got a Secret, and she was the one who guessed that Samuel J. Seymour had witnessed Lincoln’s assassination

Jayne Meadows was a regular panellist on the original version of I’ve Got a Secret, and she was the one who guessed that Samuel J. Seymour had witnessed Lincoln’s assassination

Panellist Bill Cullen was the first to question the guest and quickly concluded that it was connected with the Civil War. After it had been revealed that the secret involved a political figure, Jayne Meadows guessed that the guest witnessed Lincoln’s assassination.

Samuel J. Seymour was born on March 28th, 1860, in Maryland, United States. He was five years old when his father took him on a business trip to Washington, D.C. While there, his godmother, Mrs. George S. Goldsboro decided to take him to Ford’s Theatre to see a play called Our American Cousin.

The Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated

The Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where Lincoln was assassinated

It was the evening of April 14th, when the 5-year-old Seymour and Mrs. Goldsboro arrived at Ford’s Theatre and took their seats in one of the balconies. A few moments later, President Lincoln also arrived there, and Seymour was able to see him as he was smiling and waving to the crowd.

Everyone was enjoying the play, and everything seemed alright until the play’s third act, when as written by Seymour, “all of a sudden, a shot rang out—a shot that always will be remembered—and someone in the President’s box screamed. I saw Lincoln slumped forward in his seat.”

Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, 1865

Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, 1865

According to Mental Floss, “Seymour didn’t see anyone shoot Lincoln, but he watched as the president slumped over in his chair and a man jumped from the balcony to the stage. He landed awkwardly and appeared to have hurt himself.” 

Read another story from us: The Irony: Abraham Lincoln created the Secret Service just hours before he was assassinated

Samuel J. Seymour died only 63 days after his appearance on the CBS TV panel show I’ve Got a Secret and three days before the 91st anniversary of President Lincoln’s death.