The History of President Lincoln’s Assassination

Topics: Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, William H. Seward Pages: 5 (1786 words) Published: April 25, 2013
The History of President Lincoln’s Assassination

President Lincoln’s Assassination
President Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination took place on Good Friday, April 14, 1865 at the Ford Theater, in Washington D.C., while they were watching the play Our American Cousin with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, a twenty-eight year-old officer named Major Henry R. Rathbone, and Rathbone's fiancée, Clara Harris. After the play was in progress, a figure with a drawn derringer pistol stepped into the presidential box, aimed, and fired. The president slumped forward. The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, dropped the pistol and waved a dagger. Rathbone lunged at him, and though slashed in the arm, forced the killer to the railing. Booth leapt from the balcony and caught the spur of his left boot on a flag draped over the rail, and shattered a bone in his leg on landing. Though injured, he rushed out the back door, and disappeared into the night on horseback. A doctor in the audience immediately went upstairs to the box. The bullet had entered through Lincoln's left ear and lodged behind his right eye. He was paralyzed and barely breathing. He was carried across Tenth Street, to a boarding-house opposite the theater, but the doctors' best At almost the same moment Booth fired the fatal shot, his accomplice, Lewis Paine, attacked Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Henry Seward. Seward lay in bed, recovering from a carriage accident. Paine entered the mansion, claiming to have a delivery of medicine from the Secretary's doctor. Seward's son, Frederick, was brutally beaten while trying to keep Paine from his father's door. Paine slashed the Secretary's throat twice. There were at least four conspirators in addition to Booth involved in the mayhem. Booth was shot and captured while hiding in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died later the same day, April 26, 1865. Four co-conspirators, Paine, George Atzerodt, David Herold, and Mary Surratt, were hanged at the gallows of the Old Penitentiary, on the site of present-day Fort McNair, on July 7, 1865.

They are many conspiracies about why President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. One of the conspiracies is that Lincoln assassination was the result of a confederate plot. The idea that Lincoln was killed as part of a grand conspiracy of Confederates arose almost immediately after the assassination. Coded letters found in Booth's trunk back at the National Hotel tied him to the Confederacy. This theory has undergone a marked revival in the past 20+ years. In 1977 a statement conspirator George Atzerodt made before the trial in 1865 was uncovered. In it Atzerodt told of Booth's knowledge of a Confederate plot to blow up the White House. The hypothesis of a Confederate grand conspiracy was detailed in 1988 by William A. Tidwell, James O. Hall, and David Winfred Gaddy in Come Retribution: The Confederate Secret Service and the Assassination of Lincoln. Tidwell supplied further evidence in 1995 with the publication of April '65: Confederate Covert Action in the American Civil War. Proponents of the Confederate grand conspiracy point out that as the Confederacy's situation deteriorated, more daring and reckless planning was needed. Lincoln was viewed as a legitimate wartime target. This was especially true after the Union's failed Dahlgren raid on Richmond that had been approved by Lincoln himself and was evidence of Lincoln's increasing determination to take whatever steps were necessary to end the war. Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren was killed in the raid, and on his person several documents were found, one of which said, "The men must be kept together, and well in hand, and once in the city, it must be destroyed and Jeff Davis and his cabinet killed." Lincoln had hand-picked Dahlgren for the raid, and the Confederate government now believed the Union president had ordered Davis's death. John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Here is the story: John Wilkes Booth, a popular actor,...

Cited: Hanchett, William. The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies. University of Illinois Press. Illinois, 1983.
Bishop, Jim. The Day Lincoln Was Shot. Harper & Row. New York, 1955
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