Thursday, February 13, 2003

Ohio Moments

State librarian saved Lincoln's life


On Feb. 13, 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln pulled in to Columbus while on a whistle-stop journey to Washington for his inauguration. He was met at the train station by state librarian William T. Coggeshall, who had been assigned to escort him. Coggeshall assumed the role of self-appointed bodyguard and walked Lincoln to the Statehouse, where the president-elect addressed the legislature and attended a reception in the rotunda. At this reception, Coggeshall's wife, Mary, later wrote that Lincoln said to her husband, "Come with me to Washington, and I shall go safely." He did. At Harrisburg, Ohio, a plot to assassinate Lincoln in Baltimore was uncovered and Lincoln and Coggeshall were put on a car to Philadelphia instead. During the switch, a hand grenade was found. Coggeshall hurled it out the window and it exploded on the tracks behind them. After the inauguration, Lincoln appointed Coggeshall an official bodyguard.

Rebecca Goodman

Ohio Moments will appear here daily during 2003. Have a suggestion? Contact Rebecca Goodman at or (513) 768-8361.

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