The Assassination of Lincoln

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender, effectively ending the American Civil War.

Booth remained in the North during the war, despite his Confederate sympathies. As the war entered the final stages, Booth and other conspirators planned a plot to kidnap the President and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. The plan didn’t go as planned as the President didn’t appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators waited. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth came up with a plan to save the Confederacy.

Booth, an actor planned to kill the President, the Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H Seward. At 10.15 pm, Booth slipped into box and fired his pistol into the back of Lincoln’s head. He broke his leg in a fall onto the stage from the box, but managed to leave the theatre and escaped from Washington on horseback.

The doctors after seeing the state of the President concluded that he would die that night. The President died at 7.22am.

Union soldiers went after John Wilkes Booth. John and his accomplice, David Herold. On April 26, Union troops surrounded the Virginia farmhouse where Booth and Herold were hiding out and set fire to it, hoping to flush the fugitives out. Herold surrendered but Booth remained inside. Booth was shot in the neck, he lingered for three hours before gazing at his hands and uttering his last words: “Useless, useless.”

Four of Booth’s co-conspirators were convicted for their part in the assassination and executed by hanging on July 7, 1865.

Source: The Assassination of Lincoln
© 2017, A&E Television Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Back to top