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October 20, 2016

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

On March 20, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, a Maryland native and a Confederate sympathizer, attempted to kidnap the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln luckily did not appear at the location where Booth had planned to abduct him. Two weeks after the failed attempt, Union forces took control of the city of Richmond, Virginia. The collapse of the Confederate forces seemed imminent due to the fact that the Union had taken control of most of the Confederate territories. After his failed attempt to kidnap Lincoln, Booth believed that the only way the Confederate forces could regain power was by assassinating President Lincoln. Booth began preparations for his new plan.1

John Wilkes Booth | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
John Wilkes Booth | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln had a passion for drama and the theatre, as did Booth who was a well known and successful actor in the United States. Laura Keene, one of the most famous actresses at the time, was going to perform the three act play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., and after learning that Lincoln would be present at the event, Booth knew it was the perfect opportunity for to carry out his plan. On the evening of April 14, 1865, Lincoln occupied his private box at the Ford Theatre along with his wife, Officer Henry Rathbone and Rathbone’s fiancée. Booth was in the crowd, and when the clock reached 10:00PM, Booth entered Lincoln’s box. He positioned himself behind Lincoln, removed his .44 caliber Derringer and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. In the process he managed to stab Officer Rathbone. After the vicious attack, Booth jumped from the box and onto the stage. Upon his landing, Booth shouted, “Sic temper tyrannis!” which means “I always bring death to tyrants.” The crowd was amazed and thought that it was all part of the play. It was not until Mary, Lincoln’s wife, shouted for help that the crowd took notice of the atrocity. Among the crowd there was a doctor that attempted to care for Lincoln, but unfortunately Lincoln did not make it through and was pronounced dead the next morning.2

Lincoln Assassination Headline | The National News | April 14, 1865 | Courtesy of CBS News
Lincoln Assassination Headline | The National News | April 14, 1865 | Courtesy of CBS News

Booth managed to escape the premises, and this led to one of the biggest manhunts in the history of the United States. Twelve days later, on April 26th, Booth was found along with two accomplices, David Herold, and Mary Surrat, by the Union army inside a house in Virginia. The house was burned down by the Union troops and Booth was shot in the head. David Herold was sentenced to death as was Mary Surrat. Booth’s plan of “saving” the Confederate forces failed as General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to the Union forces on April 9, 1865, five days before Lincoln’s murder.

President Lincoln was one of the most influential people in the development of the United States of America and what it represents today. “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”- Abraham Lincoln.3

  1. James Orbesen, John Wilkes Booth : Beyond the Grave (Maryland, Landham: Trade Publishing, 2013), 6-14.
  2. Kim A. O’Connell, “Lincoln’s Last Witness,” Civil War Times, no. 3 (2015): 60.
  3. George Clack and Michael Jay Friedman, Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2008), 22.

Andres Palacios

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Recent Comments


  • Daniel Gimena

    Interesting article that can be compared with the assassination of president J.F Kennedy.
    It is a very sad story, independently if you agree with Lincoln or not. It is regrettable to see people through history that really thought they could end a human’s life just because they disagree with the other person’s political beliefs.
    Luckily, the actions that president Lincoln undertook for making the USA a better country are too important to forget him. In fact, the terrible end that Lincoln had to experienced made him immortal for US’s history.

  • Angelo Oliva-Noeggerath

    The article about Abraham Lincoln’s death went into detail about the past attempts that John Wilkes Booth took to take Abraham and I learned something new about the event that John Wilkes Booth had tried to kidnap Abraham Lincoln. The article had brought to my attention new things that I hadn’t known such as the burning of the Virginia house where John Wilkes Booth had been taking refuge and the presence of two accomplices. The article fully entails the event and the actions taken by the government and presents it well.

  • Alexis Lopez

    This article was very informative and interesting to read. I did not know that John Wilkes Booth was trying to kidnap Lincoln at first. I just thought he just planned to kill him but not kidnapping. I think Palacios giving this background information about Booths and why he decided to do what he did to help the Confederate forces by assassinating Lincoln. I enjoyed reading this article and having a better understanding behind Booths assassination and how everything played out before and after everything.

  • Lesley Martinez

    I always enjoy reading and learning about influential political figures. I was aware of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in a theatre, but I did not know that John Booth had attempted to kidnap Lincoln before assassinating him. It’s interesting to note how critical the weakening of the Confederate forces was for states and individuals like Booth and his accomplices. This event changed American history and will always be remembered for its effects. This is a great article that has specific details on the assassination of President Lincoln.

  • Rahni Hingoranee

    The assassination of Lincoln is an imperative part of history. I did not know that Booth had initially tried to kidnap him. This event is tragic and unfortunately only one of many such events that would follow. The article is great with its descriptions and accurate historical context. The closing is strong as well in that it accurately describes Lincoln as an influential person in the development of the US. Very good subject matter here in my opinion.

  • Michael Lazcano

    History classes throughout middle school and high school have always taught about the assassination of president Lincoln, but never went into a lot of detail concerning the plans to carry out such a murder. When further researching the topic you realize how methodical this whole plot was, and how Lincoln was one of many target among Booth and his associates. I think this is one of the most important moments in history, Lincoln is hailed as a hero, and an important figure in American history that we look up to due to his accomplishments over his career.

  • Tyler Caron

    I didn’t know before reading this article that Booth had planned to kidnap Lincoln before his assignation. Booth is a more complex person than I realized. Before I thought he was a just a random person that didn’t like Lincoln, but he was a well known actor. He is a more complex character than I realized.

  • Michael Hinojosa

    I never actually knew the in-depth details of President Lincolns assassination despite it being marked as one of the many major historical events that helped shape the U.S into the country it is today. I enjoyed reading the article as it was both engaging and entertaining at the same time; the article also had a bit of personal connection to me out of the fact I was able to visit the memorial in high school.

  • Indhira Mata

    I had known that Booth had planned to kill President Lincoln in the theater, but I did not know he had first tried to kidnap him. That explains why he went straight to ending his life because he saw that simply taking him would not do. This is an important part of history because it changed America drastically. People noticed how the separation was destroying us and how we needed to end the war between our own brothers and sisters. The day Lincoln died, it was a sad day for everyone not just his loved ones.

  • Diego Aguilera

    The assassination of Lincoln will always go down as a important part of history. Lincoln was such a inspirational and a wonderful president. I really enjoyed the amazing detail and the fact that it catches the readers attention. I wanna visit the memorial in of the theater to see for myself where this happen. It would truly be a good learning experience.

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