A CONDOLENCE letter sent from South Tyneside to the USA almost 150 years ago after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln will feature in a historic exhibition.
When President Lincoln was gunned down at the Ford Theatre in Washington on April 14, 1865, it caused an international outcry.
South Shields borough council sent a letter of condolence to the US people reflecting on the “great loss of their president”.
Now, to mark the 150th anniversary of the assassination, that letter is to go on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, along with a joint missive from the current leader of South Tyneside Council, Iain Malcolm, and the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, reflecting on Lincoln’s lasting legacy.
One borough man has a close link to the assassination story.
William Hall, a trooper of the 12th Illinois Cavalry, carried Lincoln’s fatally wounded body that infamous day.
Originally from Jarrow, Trooper Hall returned home after the US Civil War and was buried in Harton Cemetery in South Shields, where his grave is marked by a US Army headstone.
Coun Cunningham said: “I was proud to read the letter of our predecessors documenting our horror and sadness at the assassination of President Lincoln. He was a man of principle and his legacy lives on in South Tyneside and across the world.”
The joint letter says: “We think it is fair to say that President Lincoln and the principles that he stood for has left an enduring legacy across Britain, and on South Tyneside too.
“Men and women from the North East have always campaigned for social and political reform – from the Chartists to the Jarrow Marchers and beyond – but we were also only the second town in England with its own mosque and significant Muslim population.
“Our borough’s own record of respect and friendliness between different communities of race and religion is something we are very proud of, and has its roots in the campaigns for tolerance so nobly led by men like Abraham Lincoln.
“At the height of the Civil War, President Lincoln wrote to the cotton-workers of Northern England that ‘whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exists between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual’. We echo those sentiments.”
Both letters will be exhibited at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and are available for the world to view at www.citizenlincoln.org