One hundred and fifty-two years ago today, on April 9, 1865, Confederate commanding General Robert E. Lee surrendered his forces to the Union commander General Ulysses Grant in a short ceremony. It happened at the house of Wilmer McLean, located in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. This was not the total end of fighting in the Civil War, but it was the end of organized and official resistance. It was a turning point in American history, and the McLean House is quite rightly recognized as one of the most historically important buildings in the United States.
The day on which the surrender occurred was a Sunday, and, as it is this year (2017), also Palm Sunday. It was the start of a triumphant but also tragic week in U.S. history. The major bloodletting of the Civil War was brought to an end on Sunday, but at the beginning of the next weekend, Friday, April 14, President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He died early Saturday morning, the 15th. I doubt there have been many single weeks in the history of the United States that have been more momentous–or that have ranged so far an emotional gamut from elation and triumph to the depths of national despair.
Less than a week after the surrender at Appomattox, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington. Unknown to the public, however, he was dying of cancer at the time.
PLEASE SEE THE REST OF THE POST: From triumph to tragedy: one historic week in April 1865.