"Now he belongs to the ages” is supposedly what Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (1814-1869) said on Saturday morning, 7:22 a.m., April 15, 1865, upon the death of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865). The line is first recorded much later than 1865—in Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) by John George Nicolay and John Hay.
“He is a man for the ages” was cited in print in January 1893 and “He now belongs to the Ages” was cited in February 1893. “Now he belongs to the angels” was cited in print in 1920.
Wikipedia: Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin McMasters Stanton (December 19, 1814 – December 24, 1869) was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during most of the American Civil War. Stanton’s effective management helped organize the massive military resources of the North and guide the Union to victory.
After Lincoln’s assassination, Stanton remained as the Secretary of War under the new President Andrew Johnson during the first years of Reconstruction. He opposed the lenient policies of Johnson towards the former Confederate States. Johnson’s attempt to dismiss Stanton ultimately led to President Johnson being impeached by the House of Representatives. Stanton returned to law after retiring as Secretary of War, and in 1869 was nominated as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by Johnson’s successor, Ulysses S. Grant; however, he died four days after his nomination was confirmed by the Senate.
On April 15, 1865, Stanton rushed to the Petersen House, where President Lincoln had been taken after he had been shot at Ford’s Theatre. The Secretary of War took charge of the scene. Mary Lincoln was so unhinged by the experience of the assassination that Stanton had her ordered from the room by shouting, “Take that woman out and do not let her in again!” At Lincoln’s death Stanton uttered what became a memorable quote “Now he belongs to the ages” (or possibly “angels"), and lamented, “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen.” He vigorously pursued the apprehension and prosecution of the conspirators involved in Lincoln’s assassination. These proceedings were not handled by the civil courts, but by a military tribunal, and therefore under Stanton’s tutelage. Stanton has subsequently been accused of witness tampering, most notably of Louis J. Weichmann, and of other activities that skewed the outcome of the trials.
Wikiquote: Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (12 February 1809 – 15 April 1865) was the 16th President of the United States and led the country during the American Civil War.
Quotes about Lincoln
There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages.
. Edwin M. Stanton, at Lincoln’s death (15 April 1865). As quoted in Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890) by John George Nicolay and John Hay, p. 302. Though “Now he belongs to the ages” is by far the most accepted quotation of this remark, it is sometimes contended that he said “Now he belongs to the angels” but occurrences of this date back only a very few years. Stanton had originally opposed Lincoln, dubbing him “The Original Gorilla” because of his looks and frontier speech, but eventually grew to admire him.
Abraham Lincoln: A History
By John George Nicolay and John Hay
New York, NY: The Century Company
At twenty-two minutes after seven he died. Stanton broke the silence by saying, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
3 January 1890, New-York (NY) Daily Tribune, pg. 4, col. 4:
HOW LINCOLN DIED.
AN AUTHORITATIVE DESCRIPTION.
From The Century.
At 7:22 he died. Stanton broke the silence by saying, “Now he belongs to the ages.”
(Also in The Century, January 1890, pg. 436, col. 1.—ed.)
January 1893, Scribner’s Magazine, “Personal Recollections of Mr. Lincoln” by the Marquis de Chambrun, pg. 38, col. 1:
Mr. Stanton approached the bed, closed Mr. Lincoln’s eyes, and drawing the sheet over the dead man’s head, uttered these words in a very low voice: “He is a man for the ages.”
February 1893, The Century Magazine, “Abraham Lincoln’s Last Hours,” pg. 635, col. 2:
When it was announced that the great heart had ceased to beat, Mr. Stanton said in solemn tones, “He now belongs to the Ages.”
13 March 1894, The Repository (Canton, OH), pg. 5, col. 3:
In his story of the last moments of Lincoln Horatio King relates that Stanton, when the attending physician, with his finger on the great martyr’s pulse, announced that the end had come, said with deep feeling, “He now belongs to the ages.”
24 October 1920, The Sunday Herald (Boston, NY), pt. D, pg. 8, col. 8:
LIKE UNCLE TOM.
Sir: Overheard after a performance of “Abraham Lincoln”: “And, oh, Mabel, wasn’t it touching when he said, “Now he belongs to the angels.’”
“BUT all Ban does is puff his black cigar and lisp, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’”—New York Telegram.
OCLC WorldCat record
He belongs to the ages; the statues of Abraham Lincoln.
Author: Donald Charles Durman
Publisher: Ann Arbor, Edwards Bros. 
Edition/Format: Book : English : [1st ed.
Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association
Does Lincoln Still Belong to the Ages?
Allen C. Guelzo
Volume 33, Issue 1, Winter 2012, pp. 1-13
Edwin M. Stanton gets only a footnote in John Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, but the phrase is one that many know by heart, words this normally irascible and overbearing powder-keg of a man uttered at Abraham Lincoln’s deathbed: “Now he belongs to the ages.” That, at least, was how John Hay recorded Stanton’s words. Dr. Charles Sabin Taft, who had been boosted awkwardly from the stage to the presidential box in Ford’s Theatre and who accompanied the dying Lincoln across Tenth Street to the Petersen House’s back bedroom, thought that Stanton had said, “He now belongs to the ages.” James Rowan O’Beirne, who as provost-marshal of the District of Columbia had volunteered himself as Andrew Johnson’s bodyguard, expressly denied Hay’s claim in 1905 and could only recall Stanton having said, “That’s the last of him.” The stenographer Stanton had drafted for service that night to take depositions from witnesses, Corporal James Tanner, didn’t remember Stanton saying anything: “The utmost silence pervaded, broken only by the sound of strong men’s tears,” until Phineas Gurley proposed to say a prayer. In later years, Tanner would remember more and more of what he heard that night (even though there is some evidence from the notes of Dr. Ezra Abbott, one of the physicians at Lincoln’s bedside, that Tanner might not have been in the Petersen House at the time of Lincoln’s death), and he is cited by Adam Gopnik as claiming that Stanton really said, “Now he belongs to the angels.” “Angels,” however, may only be a mistranscription from an article Tanner wrote before his own death in 1927 and included by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt in their Twenty Days: A Narrative in Text and Pictures of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • Monday, April 14, 2014 • Permalink