Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
The introduction of this book outlines for the reader just who exactly Abraham and Mary Lincoln were. Abraham Lincoln himself was an honest, fair man who happened to rely heavily on superstition, and he believed strongly in the power of dreams. His wife, Mary, was a woman who often held séances in the White House and more often than that found herself with a shopping bag. However, they were both equally devoted to each other and their country.
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln and his wife decided to see a play called Our American Cousin in the Ford Theater. A family friend, Henry Rathbone and his fiancé, Clara Harris, accompanied them that night. This is the night that Lincoln was assassinated.
Prior to his assassination, you learn about John Wilkes-Booth, the assassin himself. He was an employee at the Ford Theater and while he was not in the play, Our American Cousin, he was a very good actor and new all the lines and cues to the play. Booth had wanted to do something about Lincoln for some time, and the second he found out that Lincoln would be in his very own theater he immediately devised a master plan to illuminate the President.
Later that day, Booth met with some other southern conspirators who were to participate in his scheme. These men were Lewis Powell, David Herold, John Surratt Jr. Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, and George Atzerodt. At this point the conspiracy was no longer set out to simply kill President Lincoln, but his Vice President, Andrew Johnson, and his Secretary of State, William Seward, as well.
In preparation for the assassination, Booth decided to pack both a .44 caliber pistol and a Rio Grande camp knife. Booth was easily able to walk through security at the play and was so close to the moment he had been waiting years for. He waited in a vestibule outside the presidential box and wedged a pine bar in the door so it could not be opened.
Booth had waited for the perfect moment in the play where the character Harry Hawk would recite an anticipated line and then Booth would take his shot. As he pulled the trigger, President Lincoln had let our a chuckle and titled his head, so instead of killing the President instantly, the bullet lodged into his brain and made him unaware of the pain, however it also almost immediately knocked him unconscious.
The President’s friend, Henry Rathbone, was absolutely enraged and sought out revenge on Lincoln’s killer, however Booth was too fast and stabbed him multiple times with his Rio Grande knife. He then escaped by jumping out of of the box and shouted, for all to hear, the phrase, “Sic semper tyrannis” which translates into, “thus always to tyrants!”
Outside of the theater, the other conspirators were to be murdering the Vice President and the Secretary of state. Powell and Herold were to kill William Seward. Powell went into the house and fought through Seward’s son and his bodyguard, Sergeant Robinson. Seward’s daughter, Fanny, was extremely distraught and started screaming that there was a murderer out the window. This immediately sent Herold running, leaving Powell to fend for himself. Powell and Herold failed to kill the Secretary of State.
Atzerodt was to kill the Vice President. His assignment had been the easiest. He had been staying in the same hotel as Andrew Johnson and all he had to do was go down one floor, knock on his door, and when the Vice President opened the door, he was to either shoot or stab him to death. Azerodt got very drunk and became cowardly, abandoning his assignment all together.
After their assignments, the conspirators were all to meet up in Maryland. Booth had a horse waiting for him outside of the theater and quickly made his escape finding his way over the bridge leading to Maryland. Herold had also managed to make his way into Maryland, but Powell was too far behind and the guard at the gate did not let him through for he...
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