President Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth. He was the first president of the United States to be assassinated.
Where was Lincoln killed?
President Lincoln was attending a play called Our American Cousin at the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C. He was sitting in the Presidential Box with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and their guests Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris.
Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre which was not too far from the White House. Photo by Ducksters
How was he killed?
When the play reached a point where there was a big joke and the audience laughed loudly, John Wilkes Booth entered President Lincoln's box and shot him in the back of the head. Major Rathbone tried to stop him, but Booth stabbed Rathbone. Then Booth jumped from the box and fled. He was able to get outside the theatre and onto his horse to escape.
President Lincoln was carried to William Petersen's boarding house across the street. There were several doctors with him, but they could not help him. He died on April 15, 1865.
Booth used this small pistol to shoot Lincoln at close range. Photo by Ducksters
John Wilkes Booth by Alexander Gardner
John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate sympathizer. He felt that the war was ending and that the South was going to lose unless they did something drastic. He gathered some partners together and first made a plan to kidnap President Lincoln. When his kidnapping plan failed he turned to assassination.
The plan was that Booth would kill the president while Lewis Powell would assassinate the Secretary of State William H. Seward and George Atzerodt would kill Vice President Andrew Johnson.
Although Booth was successful, fortunately Powell was unable to kill Seward and Atzerodt lost his nerve and never attempted to assassinate Andrew Johnson.
Booth was cornered in a barn south of Washington where he was shot by soldiers after he refused to surrender. The other conspirators were caught and several were hanged for their crimes.
Wanted poster for the conspirators. Photo by Ducksters
Interesting facts about Lincoln's Assassination
The Petersen House is located directly across the street from the Ford's Theater Photo by Ducksters
There was a policeman assigned to guard President Lincoln. His name was John Frederick Parker. He was not at his post when Booth entered the box and was likely at a nearby tavern at the time.
Booth broke his leg when he jumped out of the box and onto the stage.
When Booth stood on the stage he yelled out the Virginia State Motto "Sic semper tyrannis" which means "Thus always to tyrants".
The Ford Theatre shut down after the assassination. The government purchased it and turned it into a warehouse. It was unused for many years until 1968 when it was reopened as a Museum and theatre. The Presidential Box is never used.