Samuel J. Seymour
|Samuel J. Seymour|
Seymour (in center)
Samuel James Seymour|
March 28, 1860
Easton, Maryland, U.S.
April 12, 1956 (aged 96)|
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
Loudon Park Cemetery|
|Known for||Last surviving person to witness the assassination of U.S. President Lincoln|
Samuel James Seymour (March 28, 1860 – April 12, 1956) was the last surviving person who had been in Ford's Theatre the night of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. He was from Maryland and lived in Arlington, Virginia, in his later years. He worked as a carpenter.
Witness to Lincoln assassination
On April 14, 1865, when he was five years old, Seymour's godmother (the wife of his father's employer) took him to see Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., where they sat in the balcony across the theater from the presidential box. He saw Lincoln come into the box, waving and smiling. Later, "All of a sudden a shot rang out ... and someone in the President's box screamed. I saw Lincoln slumped forward in his seat." Seymour watched John Wilkes Booth jump from the box to the stage. He remembers that, not understanding what had happened to Lincoln, he was very concerned for Booth, who broke his leg in the jump.
In 1954, Seymour gave his account of the assassination to biographer Frances Spatz Leighton.
I've Got A Secret appearance
Two months before his death, Seymour appeared on the February 9, 1956, broadcast of the CBS TV panel show I've Got a Secret. After arriving in New York City he suffered a fall, which left him with a large swollen knot above his right eye. Host Garry Moore, after bringing Seymour on stage, explained that he and the show's producers had urged Seymour to forgo his appearance; that Seymour's doctor had left the choice up to his patient; and that Seymour very much wanted to go on.
During the game, Seymour was first questioned by panelist Bill Cullen, who quickly surmised from Seymour's age that his secret was somehow connected with the American Civil War, then correctly guessed that it had political significance and involved a political figure. Jayne Meadows then guessed that the political figure was Lincoln, and finally that Seymour had witnessed Lincoln's assassination. Because Seymour smoked a pipe rather than cigarettes, the show's sponsor, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company gave him a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco instead of the usual prize of a carton of Winston cigarettes.
Seymour, a carpenter and contractor, lived most of his later life in Baltimore, Maryland. He died April 12, 1956, at the home of his daughter in Arlington, Virginia, survived by five children, 13 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren. He was buried at Baltimore's Loudon Park Cemetery.
- Seymour, Samuel J.; Leighton, Frances Spatz (February 7, 1954). "I Saw Lincoln Shot". The American Weekly. Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 2. Retrieved October 18, 2012 – via Google News.
- "The Milwaukee Sentinel - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
- Benjamin R. Freed (October 18, 2012). "Man Who Witnessed Lincoln's Assassination Was on a Game Show in 1956". DCist.