Samuel J. Seymour was present at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, the night that President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. 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.

Seymour ended up being the longest survivor witness of this tragically historic moment, living long enough to be interviewed on television. On on February 9, 1956, he appeared on an episode of the CBS show I’ve Got a Secret at the age of 95 — Seymour incorrectly states he is 96, but when you’re that old, you’re allowed to say whatever you want — in which celebrity panelists try to determine each contestant’s secret by asking a series of “yes-or-no” questions.

The panelists — Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows, Henry Morgan, and Lucille Ball — figure out Seymour’s secret without much difficulty, allowing host Garry Moore to summarize Seymour’s memory of that fateful evening. Moore explains that, at the age of five, Seymour did not understand that the president was shot, and therefore was only concerned about the well-being of the man who fell from the balcony. Seymour died shortly after on April 12 of that same year.
 
Here is a video of the show:

 

Subscribe to Teaching the Civil War Newsletter

Supplying you with tools, tips and resources for your classroom

You have Successfully Subscribed!