The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

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

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This Post Has 69 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Esperanza Rojas

    This article was efficient in giving the information but I did wish there a little bit more information of the thought process of Booths and why he wanted to kill Lincoln other than him being a Confederate sympathizer. Also, maybe why he didn’t kill Rathbone the same way he killed Lincoln. That would be really interesting to read about. Also, Lincoln’s wife’s perspective could’ve been added into the story and add more of the dramatic aspect. Overall, this was a good article.

  2. Avatar
    Stephanie Silvola

    Booth killed Lincoln cause he wanted to help the confederacy, but actually caused havoc amongst the American people and he ended up being shot ironically in the head just like Lincoln. I find Abraham to be one of the few presidents that I liked to learn about a lot in high school and how his vies interested me. It is sad that a president like him had to be assassinated in front of many, especially in front of his wife.

  3. Avatar
    Marina Castro

    I liked this article! Even though it was short, the events were very well narrated. The article was a great source of information. As a non American, I am not very familiar with the history of the United States. This article educated me on the topic of one of the most remembered and controversial presidents the United States has ever had.

  4. Avatar
    Jabnel Ibarra

    Despite the assassination of Abraham Lincoln being somewhat common knowledge, I did not know some specific details about the event. For instance, though I knew Lincoln was shot in a theater, I didn’t know that Booth made such a spectacle of the assassination.The fact that the audience thought it was part of the act lets me somewhat imagine the course of events that took place, as I can picture what that must have looked like to a member of the audience .

  5. Avatar
    Luke Lopez

    This was a very interesting article that detailed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. John Wilkes Booth thought that it would help the Confederacy if he killed Abraham Lincoln, but it only caused pain to the American people and resulted in his own death. General Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union five days after Lincoln’s assassination. This was a very well-written article.

  6. Avatar
    Lamont Traylor

    The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was a American tragedy and I honestly don’t know if it helped more for the abolition of slavery that he died. Maybe if he lived on to see everything through, then the country would be stronger. He shouldn’t have died the way that he did, and it is sad the someone like that had to die.

  7. Avatar
    Tyler Boyd

    Very well written article on a very interesting topic. I think you did a great job of telling a story that most American’s have already heard. I especially like the quote that you finished the article with, it is a very powerful quote from a great man. The images you chose were excellent and helped paint the picture for us readers.

  8. Avatar
    Jose Fernandez

    I didn’t know much about President Lincoln’s assassination, so I found the article very interesting. The first thing that came up in my head while reading the article was the lack of security that Lincoln had the night he was murdered. I didn’t know that it took 12 days to find the murderer, it is an interesting fact. The article was short but very well written. It leaves you the desire to learn more about the topic.

  9. Avatar
    Sebastian Carnero

    Abraham Lincoln is one of my role models. He was the image of an honest, humble man. I remember the first story I read about him as a kid. When he worked at a store and some lady paid him more than what she had to. Lincoln traveled to his home and returned her the money. Lincoln abolished slavery and made contributions to the economy. It’s really sad that someone could have addressed him as a tyrant.

  10. Avatar
    Maria Esquivel

    Abraham Lincoln’s assassination is a very well-known one, yet there were some details I was unaware of, such as who was responsible for the killing and the attempted kidnap of the president. I also did not know Abraham Lincoln had a passion for drama and theatre, so I found that really interesting. In conclusion, it’s crazy to think that after Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union, five days later, the influential Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

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