On Good Friday April 14 1865 the 16th President of the United States was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. There are several conspiracy theories that surround Abraham’s assassination especially as to whether Booth was the mastermind behind the assassination. That it was John Wilkes Booth who ultimately was responsible for Abraham’s death though is established fact.
John Wilkes Booth, born May 10, 1838, was an actor and Confederate sympathizer who stood against everything Abraham Lincoln stood for. From diary entries recovered from Booth it is clear that he considered he was acting on behalf of his country. “Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment” Booth wrote.
Watch an excellent documentary of the account:
Booth had planned to kidnap Abraham Lincoln in March of 1869. Due to a change of plan by the president this abduction was thwarted and it’s believed that Booth lost many of his followers at this time. It is believed that Booth’s thoughts changed from kidnapping to assassination after a speech given by Abraham Lincoln. With the surrender of the Confederate army (April 9, 1865) Abraham Lincoln spoke of giving voting rights to some blacks. Infuriated by this, Booth was ready on April 14 to bring about Abraham Lincoln’s death.
Abraham Lincoln, accompanied by his wife Mary Todd Lincoln and a young officer Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancé Clara Harris, took a seat at Ford’s Theater at around 8:30 pm that night. They were there to watch a comedy play titled “Our American Cousins”. The scene was set for the assassination of Abe Lincoln.
Before the third act began Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Parker, left his post. Around 10:15pm or shortly after John Wilkes Booth entered the Ford Theater armed with a single shot derringer and a knife. He came up behind the president and shot him just behind the ear at almost point blank range. Abraham Lincoln’s wife screamed and many people claim they heard Booth yell out “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (As always to tyrants), before leaping onto the stage. There is some historical dispute as to whether Booth actually spoke these words, as to whether he broke his leg while jumping onto the stage, or later as he made his escape on horseback.
Abraham Lincoln was carried across the street and placed on a bed at the Peterson House (interestingly the very same bed where Booth had once fallen asleep). The President died at 7:15 the next morning. Abraham Lincoln’s assasination was complete.
John Wilkes Booth was found on Garrets farm near Port Royal Virginia on April 26th. After the barn he was hiding in was set alight Booth did not come out and surrender so he was shot dead. Those believed to have been his co-conspirators or those who aided him in his escape were trialed and several of them hung.
Following Abraham’s assasination President Andrew Johnson was sworn into office. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination shocked the country. The President who is still deemed to be one of the greatest ever was dead.