President Abraham Lincoln: Assassination

About the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater.

Assassination: April 14, 1865 . . .

Initially John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and Confederate sympathizer who was plagued with guilt feelings for not having fought in the war, had organized a conspiracy to kidnap President Lincoln. The idea was to hold Lincoln captive until the Northern Government agreed to recognize the Confederacy, but after Lee's surrender at Appomattox the focus of the plot was shifted to murder. While Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head during a performance at Ford's Theatre (where Lincoln had gone to help celebrate the end of the War) Booth's cohort Lewis Powell savagely attacked Secretary of State Seward, stabbing him severely while Seward lay in bed recovering from a carriage accident. Another conspirator was supposed to kill Vice-President Johnson, but he lost his nerve at the last moment. Booth was injured during his escape, and was soon intercepted by Federal troops. As he was dragged, mortally wounded, from a burning barn in Virginia, his last words were, "Useless! Useless!"

The significance of the fact that Lincoln was shot on Good Friday was not lost on his religious contemporaries, who immediately began the Lincoln-Christ comparisons that have continued down to this day.

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