The Assassination of President Lincoln

On this day 150 years ago in 1865, the 16th president of the United States was assassinated. Today, citizens all over the U.S. mourned the death of a courageous hero and a respected leader that happened.

One of the the best presidents the U.S. has ever seen. Photo Illustration created by Michelle Huang

One of the the best presidents the U.S. has ever seen. Photo Illustration created by Michelle Huang

John Wilkes Booth was a well known actor and Confederate sympathizer who opposed Abraham Lincoln and could not let go of the fact  that the Confederacy had lost the Civil War. He originally schemed to kidnap President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, Lincoln failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow assassins hid, ready to attack.

Undeterred by a failed first attempt, Booth tried again in April. With the Confederate armies about to cave in all across the South, Booth desperately devised a plan to save the Confederacy. From a local newspaper, he learned that Lincoln was to attend a play at Ford’s Theater on April 14, two days after the Civil War ended. Booth masterminded the concurrent assassination of President Lincoln, Vice President Johnson, and Secretary of State Seward. By murdering the president and two of the only possible successors, Booth and his small group of conspirators hoped to throw the U.S government into chaos.

On the evening of April 14, one of Booth’s conspirators, Lewis T. Powell burst into Seward’s home and seriously wounded him and three others. George A. Atzerodt, who was assigned to kill the vice president, had backed down. They found Atzerodt the next day, passed out in a bar from drinking too much alcohol.  Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth snuck into the President’s private theater box unnoticed and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head.

With so many people, now rushing towards the private theater box, Booth had nowhere to escape, so he jumped, hoping to land on the stage. He successfully did so, but injured his foot when he landed. As he limped his way out of the theater, he shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis!- the South is finally avenged!”, or thus always to tyrants. The army pursued Booth, as the president, fatally wounded, was carried to a house nearby Ford’s Theater. At 7:22 the following morning, Abraham Lincoln, at the age of 56, died. He was the first president to be assassinated, but sadly, not the last.

Booth died the same day from a self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn he was hiding in was burned to ashes. The other eight conspirators were also captured. Four were hanged, and the other four were jailed.

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was buried in Springfield, Illinois on May 4, 1865. May his admired spirit be with us forever.