Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

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The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was one of the last events in the American Civil War, and happened on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. President Lincoln was shot while watching the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.. He died early the next morning.

Lincoln's killer, John Wilkes Booth, was an actor and Confederate supporter who had plotted with other men to kill the Secretary of State, William H. Seward and the Vice President Andrew Johnson. Booth hoped to create disorder and overthrow the Northern government by doing this. Booth was able to kill Lincoln, but Seward and Johnson survived. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.[1]

Events[change | change source]

On April 14, Lincoln went to attend a play with his wife at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C..

During the third act of the play, following a line in the play that was the biggest laugh of the night, Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot.[2] John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland, entered the presidential box and fired a pistol at point-blank range into the back of Lincoln's head,[3] mortally wounding him. Lincoln immediately lost consciousness, but he passed into unconsciousness with laughter and a smile on his face.[source?] Katherine M. Evans, a young actress in the play, who was offstage when Lincoln was shot but rushed onstage after Booth's exit stated "I looked and saw President Lincoln unconscious, his head dropping on his breast,his eyes closed, but with a smile still on his face".[4] Lincoln was carried across the street to Petersen House. He was placed diagonally on the bed because his tall frame would not fit normally on the smaller bed.[5] He remained in a coma for nine hours. He died the next morning.[6] According to some accounts, at his last drawn breath, on the morning after the assassination, he smiled broadly and then expired.[7][8]

Booth escaped, but died from shots fired during his capture on April 26.

Lincoln's dreams[change | change source]

It is believed that Lincoln knew he might be assassinated.[9]

It is reported by different sources that Lincoln had dreams about being assassinated several nights before he was shot by Booth.[10] Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's friend and biographer, wrote that Lincoln had talked to him about one of these dreams three days before he died.[11]

On the day of his assassination, Lincoln had told his bodyguard, William H. Crook, that he had been having dreams of being assassinated for three straight nights. Cook advised Lincoln not to go that night to Ford's theater. Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go.[12]

References[change | change source]

  1. Swanson, James (2006). Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Harper Collins. ISBN 9780060518493.
  2. Quote: "While waves of laughter echoed through the theater, James Ferguson kept his eyes focused on Abraham Lincoln. ...the president joined the crowd with a ‘hearty laugh,’ ..."See: The Darkest Dawn: Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy.
  3. Swanson, James. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. Harper Collins, 2006. pp. 42–3. ISBN 978-0-06-051849-3
  4. Timothy S. Good, ed. (1995). We Saw Lincoln Shot: One Hundred Eyewitness Accounts (quoting Katherine M. Evans interview from April 1915 New York Tribune). University Press of Mississippi. pp. 148-149.
  5. Steers, Edward. Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. University Press of Kentucky, 2001. p. 123–24. ISBN 978-0-8131-9151-5
  6. "Abraham Lincoln". History. AETN UK. http://www.history.co.uk/biographies/abraham-lincoln. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  7. "OUR GREAT LOSS; The Assassination of President Lincoln.DETAILS OF THE FEARFUL CRIME.Closing Moments and Death of the President.Probable Recovery of Secretary Seward. Rumors of the Arrest of the Assassins.The Funeral of President Lincoln to Take Place Next Wednesday.Expressions of Deep Sorrow Through-out the Land. OFFICIAL DISPATCHES. THE ASSASSINATION. Further Details of the Murder Narrow Recape of Secretary Stanton Measures Taken is Prevent the Escape of the Assassin of the President. LAST MOMENTS OF THE PRESIDENT. Interesting Letter from Maunsell B. Field Esq. THE GREAT CALAMITY.". The New York Times. 1865-04-17. ISSN 0362-4331. http://www.nytimes.com/1865/04/17/news/our-great-loss-assassination-president-lincolndetails-fearful-crimeclosing.html. Retrieved 2016-04-12.
  8. Hay, John (1915 (1890)). The Life and Letters of John Hay Volume 1 (quote's original source is Hay's diary which is quoted in "Abraham Lincoln: A History", Volume 10, Page 292 by John G. Nicolay and John Hay). Houghton Mifflin Company. http://archive.org/stream/lifeandlettersof007751mbp/lifeandlettersof007751mbp_djvu.txt. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  9. The Diary of Gideon Welles, Chapter XXVI, April 14, 1865. The History Channel.
  10. The Diary of Gideon Welles; The History Channel Publishings, Chapter XXVI, April 14, 1865
  11. p. 116–117 of Recollections of Abraham Lincoln 1847–1865 by Ward Hill Lamon (Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press, 1999).
  12. Lloyd Lewis (1994). The Assassination of Lincoln: History and Myth. University of Nebraska Press. p. 297. ISBN 9780803279490. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=F6HB7q8M9TIC&pg=PA297.

Other websites[change | change source]