Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated by well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Shot in the head as he watched the play, Lincoln died the following day at 7:22 am, in the Petersen House opposite the theater. He was the first U.S. president to be assassinated, and Lincoln's funeral and burial marked an extended period of national mourning.
Occurring near the end of the American Civil War, the assassination was part of a larger conspiracy intended by Booth to revive the Confederate cause by eliminating the three most important officials of the United States government. Conspirators Lewis Powell and David Herold were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and George Atzerodt was tasked with killing Vice President Andrew Johnson. Beyond Lincoln's death, the plot failed: Seward was only wounded and Johnson's would-be attacker lost his nerve. After a dramatic initial escape, Booth was killed at the climax of a 12-day manhunt. Powell, Herold, Atzerodt and Mary Surratt were later hanged for their roles in the conspiracy.
|Assassination of Abraham Lincoln|
|Part of the American Civil War|
|Location||Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C.|
|Date||April 14, 1865 |
|Deaths||Abraham Lincoln (died April 15, 1865 at 7:22 a.m. from his injuries)|
|Perpetrators||John Wilkes Booth and co-conspirators|
|Motive||Revenge for the Confederate States|
John Wilkes Booth, born in Maryland into a family of prominent stage actors, had by the time of the assassination become a famous actor and national celebrity in his own right. He was also an outspoken Confederate sympathizer; in late 1860 he was initiated in the pro-Confederate Knights of the Golden Circle in Baltimore.:67
In March 1864, Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union armies, suspended the exchange of prisoners of war with the Confederate Army to increase pressure on the manpower-starved South. Booth conceived a plan to kidnap Lincoln in order to blackmail the North into resuming prisoner exchanges,:130–4 and recruited Samuel Arnold, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Michael O'Laughlen, Lewis Powell (also known as "Lewis Paine"), and John Surratt to help him. Surratt's mother, Mary Surratt, left her tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland, and moved to a house in Washington, D.C., where Booth became a frequent visitor.
While Booth and Lincoln were not personally acquainted, Lincoln had seen Booth at Ford's in 1863.:419 After the assassination, actor Frank Mordaunt wrote that Lincoln admired Booth, whom Lincoln had repeatedly invited (without success) to visit the White House.:325–326 Booth attended Lincoln's second inauguration on March 4, writing in his diary afterwards: "What an excellent chance I had, if I wished, to kill the President on Inauguration day!":174,437n.41
On March 17, Booth and the other conspirators planned to abduct Lincoln as he returned from a play at Campbell Military Hospital. But Lincoln did not go to the play, instead attending a ceremony at the National Hotel;:185 Booth was living at the National Hotel at the time and, had he not gone to the hospital for the abortive kidnap attempt, might have been able to attack Lincoln at the hotel.:185-6,439n17:25
Meanwhile, the Confederacy was collapsing. On April 3, Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital, fell to the Union Army. On April 9 the General in Chief of the Armies of the Confederate States Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to the Commanding General of the United States Army Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Potomac after the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and other Confederate officials had fled. But Booth continued to believe in the Confederate cause and sought a way to salvage it.:728
There are various theories about Booth's motivations. In a letter to his mother, he wrote of his desire to avenge the South. Doris Kearns Goodwin has endorsed the idea that another factor was Booth's rivalry with his well-known older brother, actor Edwin Booth, who was a loyal Unionist. David S. Reynolds believes Booth greatly admired the abolitionist John Brown; Booth's sister Asia Booth Clarke quoted him as saying: "John Brown was a man inspired, the grandest character of the century!" On April 11, Booth attended Lincoln's speech at the White House in which Lincoln promoted voting rights for blacks; Booth said "That means nigger citizenship ... That is the last speech he will ever give." He urged Lewis Powell to shoot Lincoln on the spot, and when Powell refused for fear of the crowd, said to David Herold, "By God, I'll put him through.":91
According to Ward Hill Lamon, three days before his death Lincoln related a dream in which he wandered the White House searching for the source of mournful sounds:
I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. "Who is dead in the White House?" I demanded of one of the soldiers, "The President," was his answer; "he was killed by an assassin."
For months Lincoln had looked pale and haggard, but on the morning of the assassination he told people how happy he was. First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln felt such talk could bring bad luck.:346 Lincoln told his cabinet that he had dreamed of being on a "singular and indescribable vessel that was moving with great rapidity toward a dark and indefinite shore", and that he'd had the same dream before "nearly every great and important event of the War" such as the victories at Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg and Vicksburg.
On April 14, Booth's morning started at midnight. He wrote his mother that all was well, but that he was "in haste". In his diary, he wrote that "Our cause being almost lost, something decisive and great must be done".:728:346
While visiting Ford's Theatre around noon to pick up his mail, Booth learned that Lincoln and Grant were to see Our American Cousin there that night. This provided him with an especially good opportunity to attack Lincoln since, having performed there several times, he knew the theater's layout and was familiar to its staff.:12:108–9 He went to Mary Surratt's boarding house in Washington, D.C. and asked her to deliver a package to her tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland. He also asked her to tell her tenant Louis J. Weichmann to ready the guns and ammunition that Booth had previously stored at the tavern.:19
The conspirators met for the final time at 7 p.m. Booth assigned Lewis Powell to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward at his home, George Atzerodt to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson at the Kirkwood Hotel, and David E. Herold to guide Powell (who was unfamiliar with Washington) to the Seward house and then to a rendezvous with Booth in Maryland. Booth planned to shoot Lincoln with his single-shot Deringer, and then stab Grant, at Ford's Theatre. They were all to strike simultaneously shortly after ten o'clock.:112 Atzerodt tried to withdraw from the plot, which to this point had involved only kidnapping, not murder, but Booth pressured him to continue.:212
Despite what Booth had heard earlier in the day, Grant and his wife, Julia Grant, had declined to accompany the Lincolns, as Mary Lincoln and Julia Grant were not on good terms.:45[b] Others in succession also declined the Lincolns' invitation, until finally Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris (daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris) accepted.:32 At one point Mary Lincoln developed a headache and was inclined to stay home, but Lincoln told her he must attend because newspapers had announced that he would. One of Lincoln's bodyguards, William H. Crook, advised him not to go, but Lincoln said he had promised his wife. Lincoln told Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax, "I suppose it's time to go though I would rather stay" before assisting Mary into the carriage.
The presidential party arrived late and settled into their box (two adjoining boxes with a dividing partition removed). The play was interrupted and the orchestra played "Hail to the Chief" as the full house of some 1,700 rose in applause. Lincoln sat in a rocking chair that had been selected for him from among the Ford family's personal furnishings.
The cast modified a line of the play in honor of Lincoln: when the heroine asked for a seat protected from the draft, the reply – scripted as, "Well, you're not the only one that wants to escape the draft" – was delivered instead as, "The draft has already been stopped by order of the President!" A member of the audience observed that Mary Lincoln often called her husband's attention to aspects of the action onstage, and "seemed to take great pleasure in witnessing his enjoyment."
At one point Mary Lincoln whispered to Lincoln, who was holding her hand, "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?" Lincoln replied, "She won't think anything about it".:39 In following years these words were traditionally considered Lincoln's last, though N.W. Miner, a family friend, claimed in 1882 that Mary Lincoln told him that Lincoln's last words expressed a wish to visit Jerusalem.
With Crook off duty and Ward Hill Lamon away, policeman John Frederick Parker was assigned to guard the president's box. At intermission he went to a nearby tavern along with Lincoln's footman and coachman. It is unclear whether he returned to the theater, but he was certainly not at his post when Booth entered the box. In any event, there is no certainty that entry would have been denied to a celebrity such as Booth, and the fact that Booth had prepared a brace to bar the door after entering the box would indicate he was expecting a guard. Navy Surgeon George Brainerd Todd saw Booth arrive:
About 10:25 pm, a man came in and walked slowly along the side on which the "Pres" box was and I heard a man say, "There's Booth" and I turned my head to look at him. He was still walking very slow and was near the box door when he stopped, took a card from his pocket, wrote something on it, and gave it to the usher who took it to the box. In a minute the door was opened and he walked in.
Once through this door, which swung inward, Booth barricaded it by wedging a stick between it and the wall. From here a second door led to Lincoln's box. There is evidence that, earlier in the day, Booth had bored a peephole in this second door, though this is not certain.:173
Booth knew the play by heart, and waited to time his shot with the laughter at one of the best lines of the play, delivered by actor Harry Hawk: "Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!". Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot.:96
Booth opened the door, stepped forward, and shot Lincoln from behind with a derringer. The bullet entered Lincoln's skull behind his left ear, passed through his brain, and came to rest near the front of the skull after fracturing both orbital plates.[c] Lincoln slumped over in his chair and then fell backward. Rathbone turned to see Booth standing in gunsmoke less than four feet behind Lincoln; Booth shouted a word that Rathbone thought sounded like "Freedom!"
Rathbone jumped from his seat and struggled with Booth, who dropped the pistol and drew a knife, then stabbed Rathbone in the left forearm. Rathbone again grabbed at Booth as Booth prepared to jump from the box to the stage, a twelve-foot drop; Booth's riding spur became entangled on the Treasury flag decorating the box, and he landed awkwardly on his left foot. As he began crossing the stage, many in the audience thought he was part of the play.
Booth held his bloody knife over his head, and yelled something to the audience. While it is traditionally held that Booth shouted the Virginia state motto, Sic semper tyrannis! ("Thus always to tyrants") either from the box or from the stage, witness accounts conflict.:739 Most recalled hearing Sic semper tyrannis! but others – including Booth himself – said he yelled only Sic semper! (Some did not recall Booth saying anything in Latin.) There is similar uncertainty about what Booth shouted, next, in English: either "The South is avenged!",:48 "Revenge for the South!", or "The South shall be free!" (Two witnesses remembered Booth's words as: "I have done it!")
Immediately after Booth landed on the stage, Major Joseph B. Stewart climbed over the orchestra pit and footlights, and pursued Booth across the stage. The screams of Mary Lincoln and Clara Harris, and Rathbone's cries of "Stop that man!":49 prompted others to join the chase as pandemonium broke out.
Booth ran across the stage and exited through a side door, en route stabbing orchestra leader William Withers, Jr. Booth had left a horse waiting outside in the alleyway. As he leapt into the saddle Booth pushed Joseph Burroughs[d] (the man holding the horse) away, striking Burroughs with the handle of his knife.
Charles Leale, a young Army surgeon, pushed through the crowd to the door of Lincoln's box but found it would not open. Rathbone, inside the door, soon noticed and removed the wooden brace with which Booth had jammed it shut.:120
Leale entered the box to find Lincoln seated with his head leaning to his right as Mary held him and sobbed: "His eyes were closed and he was in a profoundly comatose condition, while his breathing was intermittent and exceedingly stertorous." Thinking Lincoln had been stabbed, Leale shifted him to the floor. Meanwhile, another physician, Charles Sabin Taft, was lifted from the stage into the box.
After Taft and Leale opened Lincoln's shirt and found no stab wound, Leale located the gunshot wound behind the left ear. He found the bullet too deep to be removed, but was able to dislodge a clot, after which Lincoln's breathing improved;:121-2 he learned that regularly removing new clots maintained Lincoln's breathing. As actress Laura Keene cradled the President's head in her lap, he pronounced the wound mortal.:78
Leale, Taft, and another doctor, Albert King, decided that while Lincoln must be moved, a carriage ride to the White House was too dangerous. After considering Peter Taltavull's Star Saloon next door, they concluded to take Lincoln to one of the houses across the way. It rained as soldiers carried Lincoln into the street, where a man urged them toward the house of tailor William Petersen. In Petersen's first-floor bedroom, the exceptionally tall Lincoln was laid diagonally on the bed.:123-4
More physicians arrived: Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, Charles Henry Crane, Anderson Ruffin Abbott, and Robert K. Stone (Lincoln's personal physician). All agreed Lincoln could not survive. Barnes probed the wound, locating the bullet and some bone fragments. Throughout the night, as the hemorrhage continued, they removed blood clots to relieve pressure on the brain, and Leale held the comatose president's hand with a firm grip, "to let him know that he was in touch with humanity and had a friend.":14
Lincoln's older son Robert Todd Lincoln arrived sometime after midnight but twelve-year-old Tad Lincoln was kept away. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton arrived. Stanton insisted that the sobbing Mary Lincoln leave the sick room, then for the rest of the night essentially ran the United States government from the house, including directing the hunt for Booth and his confederates.:127-8 Guards kept the public away, but numerous officials and physicians were admitted to pay their respects.
Initially, Lincoln's features were calm and his breathing slow and steady. Later one of his eyes became swollen and the right side of his face discolored. Maunsell Bradhurst Field wrote in a letter to The New York Times that the President then started "breathing regularly, but with effort, and did not seem to be struggling or suffering." As he neared death, Lincoln's appearance became "perfectly natural" (except for the discoloration around his eyes). Shortly before 7 a.m. Mary was allowed to return to Lincoln's side, and, as Dixon reported, "she again seated herself by the President, kissing him and calling him every endearing name."
Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15. Mary Lincoln was not present. In his last moments Lincoln's face became calm and his breathing quieter. Field wrote there was "no apparent suffering, no convulsive action, no rattling of the throat ... [only] a mere cessation of breathing". According to Lincoln's secretary John Hay, at the moment of Lincoln's death, "a look of unspeakable peace came upon his worn features". The assembly knelt for a prayer, after which Stanton said either "Now he belongs to the ages" or "Now he belongs to the angels.":134
Booth had assigned Lewis Powell to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward. On April 5 Seward had been thrown from his carriage, suffering a concussion, a broken jaw, and a broken arm. On the night of the assassination he was confined to bed at his home in Lafayette Park. Herold guided Powell to Seward's house. Powell carried an 1858 Whitney revolver (a large, heavy and popular gun during the Civil War) and a Bowie knife.
William Bell, one of Seward's servants, answered the door when Powell knocked slightly after 10 pm. Powell told Bell that he had medicine from Seward's physician, and that his instructions were to personally show Seward how to take it. Overcoming Bell's skepticism, Powell made his way up the stairs to Seward's third-floor bedroom.:54:736 At the top of the staircase he was stopped by Seward's son, Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W. Seward, to whom he repeated the medicine story; Frederick, suspicious, said his father was asleep.
Hearing voices, Seward's daughter Fanny emerged from Seward's room and said, "Fred, Father is awake now" – thus revealing to Powell where Seward was. Powell turned as if to start downstairs, but suddenly turned again and drew his revolver. He aimed at Frederick's forehead and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired so he bludgeoned Frederick unconscious with it. Bell, yelling "Murder! Murder!", ran outside for help.
Fanny opened the door again and Powell shoved past her to Seward's bed. He stabbed at Seward's face and neck, slicing open his cheek,:58 but the splint doctors had fitted to Seward's broken jaw (often mistakenly described as a neck brace) prevented the blade from penetrating his jugular vein.:737 He eventually recovered, though with serious scars on his face.
Seward's son Augustus and Sergeant George F. Robinson, a soldier assigned to Seward, were alerted by Fanny's screams and received stab wounds in struggling with Powell. As Augustus went for a pistol, Powell ran downstairs toward the door,:275 where he encountered Emerick Hansell, a State Department messenger. Powell stabbed Hansell in the back, then ran outside exclaiming "I'm mad! I'm mad!". Screams from the house had frightened Herold, who ran off, leaving Powell to find his own way in an unfamiliar city.:59
Booth had assigned George Atzerodt to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson, who was staying at the Kirkwood House in Washington. Atzerodt was to go to Johnson's room at 10:15 p.m. and shoot him.:735 On April 14 Atzerodt rented the room directly above Johnson's; the next day he arrived there at the appointed time and, carrying a gun and knife, went to the bar downstairs, where he asked the bartender about Johnson's character and behavior. He eventually became drunk and wandered off through the streets, tossing his knife away at some point. He made his way to the Pennsylvania House Hotel by 2 am, where he obtained a room and went to sleep.:166-7:335
Earlier in the day, Booth had stopped by the Kirkwood House and left a note for Johnson: "I don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth." One theory holds that Booth was trying to find out whether Johnson was expected at the Kirkwood that night;:111 another holds that Booth, concerned that Atzerodt would fail to kill Johnson, intended the note to implicate Johnson in the conspiracy.
Lincoln was mourned in both the North and South,:350 and indeed around the world. Numerous foreign governments issued proclamations and declared periods of mourning on April 15. Lincoln was praised in sermons on Easter Sunday, which fell on the day after his death.:357
On April 18, mourners lined up seven abreast for a mile to view Lincoln in his walnut casket in the White House's black-draped East Room. Special trains brought thousands from other cities, some of whom slept on the Capitol's lawn.:120-123 Hundreds of thousands watched the funeral procession on April 19,:213 and millions more lined the 1,700-mile (2,700 km) route of the train which took Lincoln's remains through New York to Springfield, Illinois, often passing trackside tributes in the form of bands, bonfires, and hymn-singing.:31–58:231–238
Ulysses S. Grant called Lincoln "incontestably the greatest man I ever knew.":747 Robert E. Lee expressed sadness. Southern-born Elizabeth Blair said that, "Those of Southern born sympathies know now they have lost a friend willing and more powerful to protect and serve them than they can now ever hope to find again.":744 African-American orator Frederick Douglass called the assassination an "unspeakable calamity".
British Foreign Secretary Lord Russell called Lincoln's death a "sad calamity." China's chief secretary of state for foreign affairs, Prince Kung, described himself as "inexpressibly shocked and startled". Ecuadorian President Gabriel Garcia Moreno said, "Never should I have thought that the noble country of Washington would be humiliated by such a black and horrible crime; nor should I ever have thought that Mr. Lincoln would come to such a horrible end, after having served his country which such wisdom and glory under so critical circumstances." The government of Liberia issued a proclamation calling Lincoln "not only the ruler of his own people, but a father to millions of a race stricken and oppressed." The government of Haiti condemned the assassination as a "horrid crime."
Within half an hour of fleeing Ford's Theatre, Booth crossed the Navy Yard Bridge into Maryland.:67–8 An army sentry questioned him about his late-night travel; Booth said that he was going home to the nearby town of Charles. Although it was forbidden for civilians to cross the bridge after 9 pm, the sentry let him through. David Herold made it across the same bridge less than an hour later:81-2 and rendezvoused with Booth.:87 After retrieving weapons and supplies previously stored at Surattsville, Herold and Booth went to the home of Samuel A. Mudd, a local doctor, who splinted the leg Booth had broken in jumping from the presidential box, and later made a pair of crutches for Booth.:131,153
After a day at Mudd's house, Booth and Herold hired a local man to guide them to Samuel Cox's house.:163 Cox in turn took them to Thomas Jones, a Confederate sympathizer who hid Booth and Herold in Zekiah Swamp for five days until they could cross the Potomac River.:224 On the afternoon of April 24, they arrived at the farm of Richard H. Garrett, a tobacco farmer, in King George County, Virginia. Booth told Garrett he was a wounded Confederate soldier.
An April 15 letter to Todd from his brother tells of the rumors in Washington about Booth:
Today all the city is in mourning nearly every house being in black and I have not seen a smile, no business, and many a strong man I have seen in tears – Some reports say Booth is a prisoner, others that he has made his escape – but from orders received here, I believe he is taken, and during the night will be put on a Monitor for safe keeping – as a mob once raised now would know no end.
The hunt for the conspirators quickly became the largest in U.S. history, involving thousands of federal troops and countless civilians. Edwin M. Stanton personally directed the operation, authorizing rewards of $50,000 (equivalent to $800,000 in 2018) for Booth and $25,000 each for Herold and John Surratt.
Booth and Herold were sleeping at Garrett's farm on April 26 when soldiers from the 16th New York Cavalry arrived and surrounded the barn, then threatened to set fire to it. Herold surrendered, but Booth cried out, "I will not be taken alive!":326 The soldiers set fire to the barn:331 and Booth scrambled for the back door with a rifle and pistol.
Sergeant Boston Corbett crept up behind the barn and shot Booth in "the back of the head about an inch below the spot where his [Booth's] shot had entered the head of Mr. Lincoln", severing his spinal cord.:335 Booth was carried out onto the steps of the barn. A soldier poured water into his mouth, which he spat out, unable to swallow. Booth told the soldier, "Tell my mother I die for my country." Unable to move his limbs, he asked a soldier to lift his hands before his face and whispered his last words as he gazed at them: "Useless ... useless." He died on the porch of the Garrett farm two hours later.:336-40 Corbett was initially arrested for disobeying orders, but was later released and was largely considered a hero by the media and the public.:228
Without Herold to guide him, Powell did not find his way back to the Surratt house until April 17. He told detectives waiting there that he was a ditch-digger hired by Mary Surratt, but she denied knowing him. Both were arrested.:174-9 George Atzerodt hid at his cousin's farm in Germantown, Maryland, about 25 miles (40 km) northwest of Washington, where he was arrested April 20.:169
The remaining conspirators were arrested by month's end – except for John Surratt, who fled to Quebec where he was hidden by Roman Catholic priests. In September, he boarded a ship to Liverpool, England, staying in the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross there. From there, he moved furtively through Europe until joining the Pontifical Zouaves in the Papal States. A friend from his school days recognized him in there in early 1866 and alerted the U.S. government. Surratt was arrested by the Papal authorities but managed to escape under suspicious circumstances. He was finally captured by an agent of the United States in Egypt in November 1866.
Scores of persons were arrested, including many tangential associates of the conspirators and anyone having had even the slightest contact with Booth or Herold during their flight. These included Louis J. Weichmann, a boarder in Mrs. Surratt's house; Booth's brother Junius (in Cincinnati at the time of the assassination); theater owner John T. Ford; James Pumphrey, from whom Booth hired his horse; John M. Lloyd, the innkeeper who rented Mrs. Surratt's Maryland tavern and gave Booth and Herold weapons and supplies the night of April 14; and Samuel Cox and Thomas A. Jones, who helped Booth and Herold cross the Potomac.:186-8 All were eventually released except::188
The accused were tried by a military tribunal ordered by Johnson, who had succeeded to the presidency on Lincoln's death:
The use of a military tribunal provoked criticism from Edward Bates and Gideon Welles, who believed that a civil court should have presided, but Attorney General James Speed pointed to the military nature of the conspiracy and the facts that the defendants acted as enemy combatants and that martial law was in force at the time in the District of Columbia. (In 1866, in Ex parte Milligan, the United States Supreme Court banned the use of military tribunals in places where civil courts were operational.):213-4 Only a simple majority of the jury was required for a guilty verdict, and a two-thirds for a death sentence. There was no route for appeal other than to President Johnson.:222-3
The seven-week trial included the testimony of 366 witnesses. All of the defendants were found guilty on June 30. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt were sentenced to death by hanging; Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O'Laughlen were sentenced to life in prison. Edmund Spangler was sentenced to six years. After sentencing Mary Surratt to hang, five jurors signed a letter recommending clemency, but Johnson refused to stop the execution; he later claimed he never saw the letter.:227
Mary Surratt, Powell, Herold, and Atzerodt were hanged in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary on July 7.:362,365 Mary Surratt was the first woman executed by the United States government. O'Laughlen died in prison in 1867. Mudd, Arnold, and Spangler were pardoned in February 1869 by Johnson.:367 Spangler, who died in 1875, always insisted his sole connection to the plot was that Booth asked him to hold his horse.
John Surratt stood trial in Washington in 1867. Four residents of Elmira, New York,:27:125,132,136–7:112-5 claimed they had seen him there between April 13 and 15; fifteen others said they either saw him, or someone who resembled him, in Washington (or traveling to or from Washington) on the day of the assassination. The jury could not reach a verdict and John Surratt was released.:178:132-3,138:227
He came up to the horse and put one foot in the stirrup and struck me with the butt of his dagger and knocked me down.
Forensic evidence clearly indicates Booth could not have fired at point-blank range ... At a distance of three or more feet, the gunshot would not leave any stippling or any other residues on the surface of Lincoln's head ... Dr. Robert Stone, the Lincoln's' family physician, was explicit: "The hair or scalp (on Lincoln's head) was not in the least burn[t]."
Just a few days before delivering the Gettysburg Address in 1863, Lincoln went to the theater to see a play called "The Marble Heart" – a translated French production in which Booth played the villain.
"...that I have not a single selfish motive to spur me on to this, nothing save the sacred duty, I feel I owe the cause I love, the cause of the South.
Theatre employee Joe Simms concurred ... saying, 'I saw Mr. Harry Ford and another gentleman fixing up the box. Mr. Ford told me to go to his bed-room and get a rocking chair, and bring it down and put it in the President's box ...' James L. Maddox, another theatre worker, remembered Simms carrying the rocker into the building on his head. 'I had not seen that chair in the box this season; the last time I saw it before that afternoon was in the winter of 1863, when it was used by the President on his first visit to the theater.'
He said we will visit the Holy Land, and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Saviour. He was saying there was no city on earth he so much desired to see as Jerusalem
Mr. Lincoln was seated in a high backed arm chair with his head leaning towards his right side supported by Mrs. Lincoln
The President slumped forward in his chair, and then backward, never to regain consciousness.
while I was intently observing the proceedings upon the stage, with my back toward the door, I heard the discharge of a pistol behind me, and, looking round, saw through the smoke a man between the door and the President. The distance from the door to where the President sat was about four feet. At the same time I heard the man shout some word, which I thought was 'Freedom!'
His slow, full respiration lifted the clothes with each breath that he took. His features were calm and striking. I had never seen them appear to better advantage than for the first hour, perhaps, that I was there. After that his right eye began to swell and that part of his face became discolored.
Albion Parris Howe (March 13, 1818 – January 25, 1897) was a Union Army general in the American Civil War. Howe's contentious relationships with superior officers in the Army of the Potomac eventually led to his being deprived of division command.Assassination Vacation
Assassination Vacation is a book by Sarah Vowell, published in 2005, in which she travels around the United States researching the assassinations of U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield and William McKinley. While most of the book is devoted to facts about the assassinated presidents and the men who would murder them, Vowell intersperses the book with anecdotes of her adventures on her self-proclaimed "pilgrimage" of presidential assassination.Charles Sabin Taft
Charles Sabin Taft (August 1835 – December 18, 1900) was a bystander physician who was pressed into service during the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.Curse of Tippecanoe
The Curse of Tippecanoe (also known as Tecumseh's Curse or the 20 Year Presidential Curse) is the alleged pattern of death in office of Presidents of the United States elected in years that are evenly divisible by 20, from William Henry Harrison (elected in 1840) through John F. Kennedy (1960). Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and was wounded by gunshot, but he survived. George W. Bush (2000) survived his terms in office, despite an assassination attempt.Edward Steers Jr.
Edward Steers Jr. is an American historian specializing in the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.Inauguration of Andrew Johnson
The inauguration of Andrew Johnson as the 17th President of the United States was held on April 15, 1865 at the Kirkwood House in Washington, D.C., following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The inauguration marked the commencement of Andrew Johnson's only term (a partial term of 3 years, 323 days) as President. Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase administered the Oath of office. After the ceremony, President Johnson gave an impromptu inaugural address, which began with him begging the cabinet to remain with him and then attacking the Confederacy with such venom, that one witness remarked "It would have been better had he been struck dumb."As President Lincoln lay dying, Vice President Johnson visited the room where he lay, and when Mrs. Lincoln saw him, it was reported, she screamed and demanded he be removed. So he went back to his room at the Kirkwood House.
According to newspaper reports, Johnson had gotten severely inebriated, and when aides to the now-dead Lincoln came to fetch the new President they were unable to wake him for several minutes. When he was finally awake, the accounts read, "he had puffy eyes and his hair was caked with mud from the street," and that a barber and doctor were summoned to clean him up for the ten-o'clock ceremony, which most accounts agree went smoothly. However, there are other accounts, believed more reliable by some, which refute this claim.Lincoln's ghost
There have been several stories about the ghosts of former Presidents of the United States revisiting the White House, with perhaps the most common and popular one being that of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln's Ghost, otherwise known as The White House Ghost, is said to have haunted the White House since his death in 1865. Lincoln's ghost has also been said to haunt many of his former residences in Springfield, Illinois including his former law office.Lincoln–Kennedy coincidences urban legend
Claimed coincidences connecting U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy are a piece of American folklore of unknown origin. The list of coincidences appeared in the mainstream American press in 1964, a year after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, having appeared prior to that in the GOP Congressional Committee Newsletter. Martin Gardner examined the list in an article in Scientific American, later reprinted in his book, The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix. Gardner's version of the list contained 16 items; many subsequent versions have circulated much longer lists. The list is still in circulation today, having endured in the popular imagination for over 50 years. In 1992, the Skeptical Inquirer ran a "Spooky Presidential Coincidences Contest." One winner found a series of sixteen similar coincidences between Kennedy and former Mexican President Álvaro Obregón, while the other came up with similar lists for twenty-one pairs of US Presidents.Louis J. Weichmann
Louis J. Weichmann (September 29, 1842 – June 5, 1902) was one of the chief witnesses for the prosecution in the trial of the alleged conspirators involved in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Previously, he had been also a suspect in the conspiracy because of his association with Mary Surratt's family.O Captain! My Captain!
"O Captain! My Captain!" is an extended metaphor poem written in 1865 by Walt Whitman, about the death of American president Abraham Lincoln. The poem was first published in the pamphlet Sequel to Drum-Taps which assembled 18 poems regarding the American Civil War, including another Lincoln elegy, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd". It was included in Whitman's comprehensive collection Leaves of Grass beginning with its fourth edition published in 1867. The poem emphasizes grief and sorrow.Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin is a three-act play by English playwright Tom Taylor. The play is a farce whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish, but honest American, Asa Trenchard, to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate. The play first premiered at Laura Keene's Theatre in New York City on October 15, 1858, and the title character was first played by Joseph Jefferson.
Although the play achieved great renown during its first few years and remained very popular throughout the second half of the 19th century, it is best remembered as the play U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was attending in Ford's Theatre in Washington, D. C., when he was assassinated by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.Petersen House
The Petersen House is a 19th-century federal style row house located at 516 10th Street NW in Washington, D.C. On April 15, 1865, United States President Abraham Lincoln died there after being shot the previous evening at Ford's Theatre, located across the street. The house was built in 1849 by William A. Petersen, a German tailor. Future Vice-President John C. Breckinridge, a friend of the Lincoln family, once rented this house in 1852. In 1865, it served as a boarding house. It has served as a museum since the 1930s, administered by the National Park Service.Reverdy Johnson
Reverdy Johnson (May 21, 1796 – February 10, 1876) was a statesman and jurist from Maryland. He gained fame as a defense attorney, defending notables such as Sanford of the Dred Scott case, Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter at his court-martial, and Mary Surratt, alleged conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. A former Whig, he was a strong supporter of the Union war effort. At first he opposed wartime efforts to abolish slavery until 1864, and in 1865 supported the 13th Amendment banning slavery.Samuel J. Seymour
Samuel James Seymour (March 28, 1860 – April 12, 1956) was the last surviving person who had been in Ford's Theatre the night of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865.Sic semper tyrannis
Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning "thus always to tyrants".The Day Lincoln Was Shot
The Day Lincoln Was Shot is a 1998 American television film based on the book by Jim Bishop. It is a re-creation of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, co-written and directed by John Gray, and stars Lance Henriksen as Abraham Lincoln and Rob Morrow as John Wilkes Booth.The book had previously been adapted in 1956 as a live television play starring Raymond Massey as Lincoln, Lillian Gish as Mary, and Jack Lemmon as John Wilkes Booth. It was telecast on the CBS anthology series Ford Star Jubilee.The Lincoln Conspiracy (film)
The Lincoln Conspiracy is a 1977 film directed by James L. Conway that dramatizes certain conspiracy theories concerning the 1865 assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. The film, which was based on the 1977 book of the same name by David W. Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier Jr., starred Robert Middleton as Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, John Dehner as Col. Lafayette C. Baker, Bradford Dillman as John Wilkes Booth, and John Anderson as Lincoln.The hypothesis of the film was that, far from being the work of the ringleader of a lonely band of fanatics as most historians had become agreed that it was, Lincoln's assassination was the result of a vast conspiracy involving Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Chief of National Police Colonel Lafayette Baker, and various Northern Senators and politicians who were determined to stop Lincoln from carrying out his lenient Reconstruction policies towards the South. The movie further professed that the man killed at Garret's farm in Virginia was not John Wilkes Booth, but another man named James William Boyd.The Prisoner of Shark Island
The Prisoner of Shark Island is a 1936 film loosely based on the life of Maryland physician Samuel Mudd, who treated the injured presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth and later spent time in prison after his controversial conviction for being one of Booth's accomplices. The film was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, was directed by John Ford and starred Warner Baxter and Gloria Stuart.
Twentieth Century Pictures, before it merged with Fox, purchased the rights to the book The Life of Dr. Mudd by Nettie Mudd Monroe, the doctor's daughter. The film's credits, however, make no reference to Monroe or her book. Modern sources state that Darryl F. Zanuck, Twentieth Century's vice-president in charge of production, got the idea to make the film after he read an article in Time magazine about the prison camp for political prisoners on the Dry Tortugas island.William M. Stone
William Milo Stone (October 14, 1827 in Jefferson County, New York – July 18, 1893 in Oklahoma Territory) was the sixth Governor of Iowa (1864–68).
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