The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln 1865 | Courtesy of history.com

On March 20, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, a Maryland native and a Confederate sympathizer, attempted to kidnap the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln luckily did not appear at the location where Booth had planned to abduct him. Two weeks after the failed attempt, Union forces took control of the city of Richmond, Virginia. The collapse of the Confederate forces seemed imminent due to the fact that the Union had taken control of most of the Confederate territories. After his failed attempt to kidnap Lincoln, Booth believed that the only way the Confederate forces could regain power was by assassinating President Lincoln. Booth began preparations for his new plan.1

John Wilkes Booth | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
John Wilkes Booth | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln had a passion for drama and the theatre, as did Booth who was a well known and successful actor in the United States. Laura Keene, one of the most famous actresses at the time, was going to perform the three act play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., and after learning that Lincoln would be present at the event, Booth knew it was the perfect opportunity for to carry out his plan. On the evening of April 14, 1865, Lincoln occupied his private box at the Ford Theatre along with his wife, Officer Henry Rathbone and Rathbone’s fiancée. Booth was in the crowd, and when the clock reached 10:00PM, Booth entered Lincoln’s box. He positioned himself behind Lincoln, removed his .44 caliber Derringer and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. In the process he managed to stab Officer Rathbone. After the vicious attack, Booth jumped from the box and onto the stage. Upon his landing, Booth shouted, “Sic temper tyrannis!” which means “I always bring death to tyrants.” The crowd was amazed and thought that it was all part of the play. It was not until Mary, Lincoln’s wife, shouted for help that the crowd took notice of the atrocity. Among the crowd there was a doctor that attempted to care for Lincoln, but unfortunately Lincoln did not make it through and was pronounced dead the next morning.2

Lincoln Assassination Headline | The National News | April 14, 1865 | Courtesy of CBS News
Lincoln Assassination Headline | The National News | April 14, 1865 | Courtesy of CBS News

Booth managed to escape the premises, and this led to one of the biggest manhunts in the history of the United States. Twelve days later, on April 26th, Booth was found along with two accomplices, David Herold, and Mary Surrat, by the Union army inside a house in Virginia. The house was burned down by the Union troops and Booth was shot in the head. David Herold was sentenced to death as was Mary Surrat. Booth’s plan of “saving” the Confederate forces failed as General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to the Union forces on April 9, 1865, five days before Lincoln’s murder.

President Lincoln was one of the most influential people in the development of the United States of America and what it represents today. “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”- Abraham Lincoln.3

  1. James Orbesen, John Wilkes Booth : Beyond the Grave (Maryland, Landham: Trade Publishing, 2013), 6-14.
  2. Kim A. O’Connell, “Lincoln’s Last Witness,” Civil War Times, no. 3 (2015): 60.
  3. George Clack and Michael Jay Friedman, Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2008), 22.

Tags from the story

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

This Post Has 63 Comments

  1. I never actually knew the in-depth details of President Lincolns assassination despite it being marked as one of the many major historical events that helped shape the U.S into the country it is today. I enjoyed reading the article as it was both engaging and entertaining at the same time; the article also had a bit of personal connection to me out of the fact I was able to visit the memorial in high school.

  2. I had known that Booth had planned to kill President Lincoln in the theater, but I did not know he had first tried to kidnap him. That explains why he went straight to ending his life because he saw that simply taking him would not do. This is an important part of history because it changed America drastically. People noticed how the separation was destroying us and how we needed to end the war between our own brothers and sisters. The day Lincoln died, it was a sad day for everyone not just his loved ones.

  3. The assassination of Lincoln will always go down as a important part of history. Lincoln was such a inspirational and a wonderful president. I really enjoyed the amazing detail and the fact that it catches the readers attention. I wanna visit the memorial in of the theater to see for myself where this happen. It would truly be a good learning experience.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu