Harford History

April 16, 2006

1865: A time of division

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor from Tudor Hall, outside Bel Air, gained infamy as the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

This episode marked the end of a particularly divisive time for Harford County citizens. Many Southern sympathizers had fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War. James J. Archer rose to the rank of general in Gen. Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army. Many others supported the Union. Richard Bouldin, editor of the Harford newspaper National America, recruited 48 men and became a Union captain.

An article in Bouldin's paper after the presidential assassination reported that, at a meeting in Bel Air, Union men voted to dress in mourning for the slain president. The meeting also voted its belief that men who had gone south to fight for the Confederacy had "expatriated" themselves. Fortunately, this portent of future divisiveness was not borne out in the post-war years.

Bel Air: The Town Through Its Buildings, by Marilynn M. Larew; research by Harford County Public Library

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