John Wilkes Booth was a noted actor and Confederate sympathizer. He had planned initially to kidnap President Lincoln, hoping to exchange him for Confederate prisoners. Plans were made among a small group of conspirators to carry out the kidnapping in March 1865, on a day when Lincoln was scheduled to attend a function at a Washington hospital. At the last moment, the presidents plans were changed and Booths plot was neutralized.
On April 11, two days after Lee`s surrender, Lincoln spoke to a crowd outside the White House and, among other things, mentioned that some blacks should be given the vote. Booth, an avowed racist, was in the crowd and decided to kill Lincoln rather than kidnap him.
On Good Friday evening, April 14, President and Mrs. Lincoln attended a performance at Fords Theater in Washington. At shortly after 10 oclock, Booth entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln in the back of his head. After firing the shot Booth dropped to the stage, caught and broke his leg on a flag. Some patrons reported hearing him shout the Virginia motto, Sic simper tyrannis (thus always to tyrants); others thought they heard, The South shall live!
Lincoln lingered throughout the night and died early the next morning without regaining consciousness.
The assassination was part of a larger plot, which also targeted Vice President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and General Ulysses S. Grant. Seward was attacked at his home and received serious knife wounds, but recovered and continued in office under President Johnson. Grant and his wife were scheduled to attend the performance with the Lincolns, but had a last-minute change of plans. No attempt was made on Johnson`s life. Booth had hoped that the removal of the leading figures in the government would spark a revival of the Confederacy.
Booth escaped, but was found by federal soldiers several weeks later. He had hidden himself in a barn near Port Royal, Virginia, and failed to heed an order to surrender. The barn was set on fire. He was shot and killed by one of the armed officials.
Eventually eight persons were arrested as conspirators. All were tried and convicted by a military tribunal. Four were hanged. One died in jail. Three received presidential pardons in 1869.
Popular opinion for many years held that high Confederate officials had played a role in planning the assassination, but convincing evidence has never been presented.
Lincoln had not been uniformly popular in the North during his presidency. Peace Democrats thought he was waging an unnecessary war and Radical Republicans felt he was too moderate. In death, however, Lincoln became a martyr and a hero. Even some Southern leaders expressed sadness at his murdera well founded sentiment in light of the nature of Reconstruction, which was to emerge.
- - - Books You May Like Include: ----
Giant in the Shadows The Life of Robert T. Lincoln by Jason Emerson.
Although he was Abraham and Mary Lincolns oldest and last surviving son, the details of Robert T. Lincolns life are misunderstood by some and unknow...
April 1865: The Month That Saved America by Jay Winik.
This gripping, panoramic narrative takes readers on a breathless ride through 30 tumultuous days at the end of the Civil War, which included the surre...
Lincoln's Assassins: A Complete Account of Their Capture, Trial, and Punishment by Roy Z. Chamlee, Jr..
John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln and was himself killed before he could be taken into custody. But other conspirators, and some just unfortuna...
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson.
From April 14 to April 26, 1865, the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices transfixed a nation reeling from the horrors of the newly ended Ci...
American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies by Michael W. Kauffman.
It is a tale as familiar as our history primers: A deranged actor, John Wilkes Booth, killed Abraham Lincoln in Fords Theatre, escaped on foot, and e...
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly.
A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega...
The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics by James Oakes.
A major history of Civil War America through the lens of its two towering figures: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. "My husband considered you ...