Reactions to the Lincoln Assassination
Washington, DC, April 14, 1865, 10:45 p.m., the President of the United States was shot with a Philadelphia Deringer pistol at Ford’s Theatre while attending the play Our American Cousin. He was carried across the street where he died early the next morning. The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, made his escape by horse and rode to the house of Doctor Mudd, a resident of Maryland who repaired his leg. The next day Booth was found hiding in a barn and was killed, shot by a Union soldier through a crack in the barn wall. Within a week, news of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination spread throughout the country. In some parts of the country the reaction was one of shock and sorrow, however, in some southern states there was private and public celebration for various reasons. The fact that he was the head of the Union, supported the restriction of slavery, alone with his other political views, found John Wilkes Booth a hero in many households. Abraham Lincoln is arguably most famous for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, which essentially abolished slavery from nine of ten slave-holding states. It was officially abolished a few months after Lincoln’s death in December of 1865 when the thirteenth amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment read: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” These bills understandably angered the southerners further, most of whom already hated Lincoln since he was the head of the Union. This angered them because they relied on the slaves to work their plantations, which was their number one source of income. In addition to the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln accomplished many other things in his lifetime. He was elected the sixteenth president of the United States in 1860 and was reelected in 1864. He also led America through the Civil War. He was challenged further at the end of the war with the idea of how to deal with the confederates and freed slaves; this period was called reconstruction. However, he was killed in the beginning of this period and many question whether this period would have been dealt with differently if he hadn’t been killed. Involvement in these controversial issues led Lincoln to be a target for threats on his life. In fact, he would receive threatening letters, offensive poems and gruesome drawings in the mail daily. A newspaper in the state of Alabama offered $1 million for Lincoln to be killed. His legendary top hat had previously been shot off his head and one woman even attempted to infect him with smallpox by giving him a kiss while she was contagious with the virus. Lincoln once told a friend, “I long ago made up my mind that if anybody wants to kill me, he will do it.” He was a relatively easy target by president’s standards. He didn’t like the secret service to be heavily guarding him all the time. He would leave parts of the White House unguarded and doors open day and night. Visitors would enter the White House without being searched for weapons and the booth he was sitting in the night he was shot was unguarded, which gave Booth the opportunity, in addition to the motive he already harbored to kill Lincoln. Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth, was a popular actor and confederate born in 1838. He was born in Bel Air, Maryland to his father Junius Brutus Booth, who was also an actor, and his mistress Mary Ann Holmes. Booth was a racist from his early days as a southern boy. He believed that America was made for white people and that black people were made to serve them. He was a confederate who believed that abolitionists and “black Republicans” deserved to burn in hell. In 1864 Booth plotted a kidnapping of Lincoln after he was reelected. He planned to kidnap him while on the way to see a play and hold him hostage in...
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