Clara Harris

Clara Harris (1834 – December 23, 1883) together with her fiancé, Major Henry Rathbone had accompanied President Abraham Lincoln and the First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln to the Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865 when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. On that day, Mary Todd Lincoln had invited a number of people to attend the play “Our American Cousin” including General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife. However, all of them had declined the invitation for a variety of reasons. Mrs. Lincoln had then asked the young couple of Clara Harris and Majore Henry Rathbone, who had recently been engaged to join the Presidential party and they had gladly accepted the invitation.

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The famous American actor, John Wilkes Booth had surreptitiously entered the Presidential box during the play and fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln with a derringer. Clara Harris’s fiance Henry Rathbone hadtried to thwart the assassin escape after he had shot the President and during the scuffle, he was severely wounded by Booth who had attacked him with a large dagger that he had carried with him. Rathbone was slashed and stabbed on his left arm and had collapsed due his serious injuries and loss of blood.

After Henry Rathbone had recovered from his wounds, he married Clara Harris on July 11, 1867. Clara Harris was the daughter of US Senator Ira Harris of New York and by an unusual coincidence; she was Rathbone’s step sister as both their parents had married after the death of their respective spouses. Ira Harris thus was Rathbone’s step-father who later became his father-in-lay as well.

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