Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination
Many of the southerners were angry during the Civil War as they felt that their pro-slavery beliefs would be stopped and their economies destroyed if they lost. Others didn’t believe that Black slaves were equal to white people, and that they were barbarians, and they refused to accept that their lives would be required to change.
This kind of anger festered in many of the southern states, and some refused to give up their ideas of a south independent of the north. Various small groups organized to plan attempts to take any steps necessary to keep from losing the civil war, all the way to harming President Abraham Lincoln. One member of such a group was John Wilkes Booth, and on April 14, 1865, he shot President Lincoln while he and his wife were attending a play.
- Those that supported the continued uprising of the south were called Confederate sympathizers. Booth was one member of a group of like-minded people that felt they had to do something drastic to keep from losing the war. Their original plan was to kidnap President Lincoln. Although they had a plan, all figured out it ended up failing when Lincoln took a route different from the original one that was known. When the kidnapping failed, Booth and his group decided that they had to assassinate Lincoln. The plan of one associate, Lewis Powell, was to assassinate William H. Seward, who was Secretary of State, and the other associate, George Atzerodt, would kill Andrew Jackson, who was Vice President. With everyone in control of the Union dead, it would open up the opportunity for the south to win.
- Booth was a well-known and popular actor, having performed in many areas in the country and at the Ford Theater in Washington, D.C. Therefore it wasn’t uncommon for Booth to be seen at the Ford Theater. They set about to plan on killing President Lincoln when he and his wife, Mary Todd, attended a play. Lincoln, Mary Todd, and their guests Clara Harris and Major Henry Rathbone were sitting in the Presidential Box at the Ford Theater on April 14, 1865, as they watched the play “Our American Cousin.”
- Booth monitored the play and had a plan to wait until the audience laughed at one of the major jokes so he could enter the Presidential Box. As soon as the crowd laughed, Booth entered and shot President Lincoln in the back of the head. Rathbone attempted to stop Booth, and Booth stabbed Rathbone. Booth then leaped from the Presidential Box to the floor and ran outside to his horse. As Booth jumped, he yelled the Virginia State Motto “Sic Semper Tyrannus,” which means “Thus always to tyrants.” During the same time, Powell lost his chance to kill Steward, and the other assassination attempt of Andrew Jackson also failed when Atzerodt chickened out.
- They carried the injured President Lincoln across the street to the William Petersen boarding house. Quite a number of doctors were in attendance, but the injury was too severe, and President Lincoln died.
- Booth had broken his leg when he jumped to the floor, but he made it to his horse and fled to a barn. When soldiers found him, he refused to surrender, and he was shot. The other members of Booth’s conspiracy group were caught and hanged for their participation in the crimes.
What was the name given to those that supported the south during the Civil War?
What was the name of the play that Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated?
Our American Cousin
Where was the Ford Theater?
What additional officials were included in the plans for assassination?
William H. Seward, Secretary of State and Andrew Jackson, Vice President
What date was President Abraham Lincoln assassinated?
April 14, 1865
Where was Booth cornered for capture?
In a barn