ORIGINAL HANDBILL FROM THE NEW YORK MAYOR'S OFFICE ANNOUNCING THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN
(LINCOLN, Abraham) GUNTHER, G. Godfrey. Handbill ["Message from His Honor the Mayor"]. New York: Mayor's Office, April 15, 1865. Disbound, single sheet of paper, measuring 5 by 8 inches; mounted on paper, entire piece measures 7 by 11 inches.
Original handbill dated April 15, 1865 from New York Mayor G. Godfrey Gunther to the Common Council announcing the assassination of President Lincoln and calling for the Council to take action on behalf of the grieving public.
The media coverage of President Lincoln's assassination varied widely. While the telegraph enabled swift public notification—something that would not have been possible 30 years earlier—newspapers nevertheless struggled to incorporate the breaking news story into their formats. According to media scholar Elahe Izadi, many papers wedged the announcement of Lincoln's death awkwardly onto their front pages alongside advertisements and local news. Moreover, the announcements were often confusing and poorly written. New York proved a rare exception. On April 16th, New Yorkers—many still in shock—awoke to a full front page dedicated to the tragedy under the banner "Our Great Loss." A unique spirit of public mourning overtook New York. This handbill, published on April 15th, reflects a prescient knowledge of New York's attitude toward Lincoln's death, calling on the Common Council to "take appropriate action… to signify those sentiments of public respect and grief." This handbill features a lovely steel engraving of the mayor's office draped in funeral bunting with flags at half staff, as well as a black mourning border. A copy of this handbill also resides at the Library of Congress as part of its Lincolniana collection.