Lincoln's story came to an end recently in my class, with John Wilkes Booth's fatal shot in Ford's Theatre. A hush came over the class as I described Lincoln's final moments, and recited Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's immortal words: "Now he belongs to the ages."
"What do you think he meant by that?" I asked the class.
"I don't get it," said one girl.
"What don't you get?" I asked.
"Well," she said, "you told us that there weren't many Asians in the United States then, and most of them were working on the railroads out West, right? So why would he say that now he belongs to the Asians?"
"NO," said one boy loudly, "to the AGENTS. Like, the people who are going to carry his body away."
Trying (unsuccessfully) to smother my laughter, I wrote the quotation on the board instead.