Lincoln’s Assassination

lincoln-assassination.jpgThere are many theories behind the assassination of President Lincoln. However, it is agreed upon that a man by the name of John Wilkes Booth shot the president while he was watching a play.

Booth, born in 1838, was an actor who performed in many plays, including some written by Shakespeare. He was also a much known racist and sympathized with the south throughout the Civil War. Booth, among others, blamed Lincoln for the South’s downfall and wanted revenge.

In 1864, Booth began concocting plans to kidnap Lincoln and hold him hostage and exchange him for Confederate prisoners of war. He c
onspired with Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlen, John Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, and David Herold. On
March 17, 1865, the group attempted to capture Lincoln at a play in the outskirts of Washington, but Lincoln changed plains and remained in the capital, escaping a kidnapping.

After General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln spoke from the Whitehouse about giving certain blacks rights. This statement led Booth and his co-conspirators towards thoughts of assassination instead of kidnapping.

On Friday, April 14, 1865, Booth learned that Lincoln and General Grant were going to attend the evening showing of Our American Cousin in Ford’s Theatre. After learning that Grant had left town and would not be attending, Booth quickly organized a meeting and told his co-conspirators that he would kill Lincoln while he was watching the play. Two of his followers were sent to murder Vice-president Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. All three attacks were to be performed at approximately 10:15 that night. The group hoped that the resulting chaos and turmoil would lead to a comeback for the South in the war.

At about 10:07, Booth entered the Ford theatre and headed towards Lincoln’s seat. The presidents’ body guard had moved and Booth slid into the box seat easily. He shot Lincoln in the back of the head and leapt onto the stage, breaking a bone in his ankle. He hobbled off and out of the theatre, gathering his horse and fleeing from the city. Everything happened so fast that the audience barely had time to register what had happened.

The two men who had been sent to assassinate Johnson and Seward did not succeed.

Lincoln never regained consciousness and died at 7:22 the following morning.

Government authorities chased the three men and their colleagues down. Booth refused to be taken civilly and soldiers were forced to shoot him until he fell. His remains were taken back to the capitol for further studying.