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Original or Reprint? A Guide to Noteworthy Newspaper Issues

New York Herald

April 15, 1865

New York Herald (New York, NY), April 15, 1865. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Serial & Government Publications Division, Library of Congress.

The New York Herald of Saturday, April 15, 1865, carried a thorough account of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, and for this reason it has been reprinted many times. President Lincoln was shot at 9:30 p.m., Friday, April 14, 1865, while seated in a box at Ford's Theater. About the same time Secretary of State Seward, one of his sons, and a servant were knifed by an assassin who had invaded their home. Lincoln was removed to a house across the street from the theater where he died at 7:22 a.m. Saturday morning. News of the attacks reached the New York Herald by telegraph in time to make the first edition. Several other editions were issued during the day reporting later developments, Lincoln's death, and the inauguration of Vice President Andrew Johnson as President.

The original editions from April 15th, all six columns wide and printed on rag paper, are differentiated by variations in the arrangement of textual material and captions, especially on page one. Four editions from that day have been identified, and they are categorized by the time of the latest news bulletin included, as follows:

2:00 a.m. Regular edition. 8 pages. A one sentence "Two o'clock a.m." bulletin appears just above the caption "Press Dispatches" in the third column, and "The State Capital" appears near the top of the fourth column of the first page.

3:00 a.m. Special edition. 8 pages. The first, second, and third columns on page one are the same as the 2:00 a.m. edition. In the fourth column the caption, "The State Capital," has been replaced by "The Latest News" and contains a sub-heading "Secretary Stanton to General Dix, War Department, Washington, April 15--3:00 a.m." "The State Capital" has been moved to the sixth column.

10:00 a.m. Special edition. 4 pages, the inside ones being identical to pages 4, 5, and 8 of the 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. editions and so numbered. The fifth column of the first page is headed "Postscript...Death of the President." This is the first edition with heavy column lines, or mourning leads, which are limited to a portion of the fifth column.

2:00 p.m. Inauguration edition. 8 pages, pages 2 through 7 being the same as the 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. editions. All columns on the first page have heavy lines; captions in the fifth column under "Postscript" are the same as the 10:00 a.m. Special Edition, with the addition of a reward notice. The caption "The Rebels" has slipped from the fifth column to the six column, displacing other items. The eighth page has been significantly changed by the addition of a bold-faced caption "Extra" in the second column and "Inauguration of...Johnson" in the fourth column. Inexplicably, the date "Friday, April 14, 1865" appears in the running head on page eight of this edition.

A 10:00 a.m. "Reward Edition" and 3:30 p.m. "Special Edition" have also been reported.

Most issues of the New York Herald for April 15, 1865 found today are reprints of little or no value. They are usually printed on wood pulp paper, are rather dark in color and of poor quality. Few are facsimiles of an original edition; nearly all are reprints with extensive rearrangement of text. Most reprints have heavy column lines (mourning leads) and consist of two or four unnumbered pages. Some reprints have a portrait of President Lincoln, without a beard, on the front page; many include large advertisements on the inside pages for such items as Kitchell's Liniment, Smith's Buchu Lythia Pills, Dr. Archambault's Paris Vital Sparks, or Grain-0 Coffee.

A few reprints include text reproduced from the 2:00 a.m. Regular Edition, but most purport to be an 8:10 a.m. "Mourning Edition," the existence of the original of which has never been proved.

Source: Information Circular 12 (Revised 1972).

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