Remembering the Assassination of President Lincoln

History

| LAST UPDATE 04/14/2022

by Elena White
Abraham Lincoln Assassination Anniversary,
Stock Photo via Getty Images

Today marks 157 years since American President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated - the first president in American history to be killed. For the history beginners among us, there is a lot to learn about this infamous day and, moreover, this historically monumental man. On April 14, 1865, the President planned to travel to Ford's Theatre to see Laura Keene perform in Our American Cousin. Unfortunately, when Lincoln's confederate enemies heard of his schedule, they decided it would be the perfect opportunity to take him down. The rest, as they say, is history...

John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators planned to ambush the President, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward all on the same night - that of April 14. They believed that if these influential figures were removed, the government would collapse and, with it, the Union government. Lewis Powell started the night's tragic events, bursting into William Seward's residence and attacking him numerous times. George A. Atzerodt, who was meant to kill the Vice President, backed out of the plan and fled.

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Later that evening, at 10 p.m., while Lincoln sat in the President's box at the theater observing the show, actor John Wilkes Booth snuck into the private box, shot the President in the back of his head, and shouted, "Sic semper tyrannis! (Ever thus to tyrants!) The South is avenged." He then jumped down from the box onto the stage and fled Washington, breaking his leg in the process. On the other hand, the President was severely wounded and taken to a local lodging house, where he passed away the following morning.

Abraham Lincoln Assassination Death
Stock Photo via Getty Images

But many don't know that April 14 was actually the second time Lincoln's enemies planned to kill him. An original plan was in place to kidnap the President on March 20 that same year and take him to the Confederate capital in Richmond. Booth and his team lay waiting in the spot they believed Lincoln would be on that day - however the President never showed. Just two weeks later, Union forces successfully took over Richmond. By this point, the Confederate armies were almost entirely defeated in the South, and Booth knew the time to act was now if the Confederates would have a chance of survival. With that notion, the April 14 plan was formulated. But while his life may have been cut short, Lincoln's legacy is bound to live on forever.

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