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American Civil War

Abraham Lincoln Assassinated

Assassination of President Lincoln
by Currier & Ives
History >> Civil War

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.

The presidential box at Ford's Theatre
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.

Pistol used by Booth to kill Lincoln
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 Lincoln's killer
Wanted poster for the conspirators.
Photo by Ducksters

Interesting facts about Lincoln's Assassination
Petersen house where Abraham Lincoln died
The Petersen House
is located directly across
the street from the Ford's Theater

Photo by Ducksters
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Works Cited

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