John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln

President Abraham Lincoln is shot in the head at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis! (ever thus to tyrants! The South is avenged” as he jumped onto stage and fled on horseback. Lincoln died the next morning.

Booth was a well-known actor who loved the South, but lived in the North during the Civil War. Along with friends Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlin, and John Surratt, Booth conspired to kidnap Lincoln and deliver him to the South.

On March 17, along with George Atzerodt, David Herold, and Lewis Paine, the group met in a Washington bar to plot the abduction of the president. When the president changed his plans, their scheme failed. Shortly afterward, the South surrendered to the Union and the conspirators altered their plan; they decided to kill the President, Vice President and the Secretary of State all on the same night.

When April 14 came around, Atzerodt backed out of his part to kill Johnson. At about 10 pm Booth walked into the Ford’s Theatre, up to the President’s box. Lincoln’s guard, John Parker, was not there because he had gotten bored with the play, and left his post to get a beer. Booth shot Lincoln in the head. He injured his leg when he jumped to the stage but managed to make it to his horse and flee.

Booth rode to Virginia with his accomplice, David Herold and they hid in a barn as thousands of Union troops searched for them. When the troops finally caught up with Booth and Herold on April 26, they gave them the option of surrendering before the barn was burned down. Herold decided to surrender, but Booth remained in the barn as it went up in flames. Booth was then shot and killed in the burning barn by Corporal Boston Corbett.

Source: John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln
© 2017, A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Back to top