Abraham Lincolns assassination was a malevolent ending to an already bitterand spiteful event in American history, the Civil War. John Wilkes Booth and hisgroup of co-conspirators developed plans in the late summer of 1864 to onlykidnap the President and take him the Confederate capital of Richmond and holdhim in return for Confederate prisoners of war.
Booths group of conspirators:Samuel Arnold, Michael OLaughlen, John Surratt, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt,David Herold, and Mary Surratt (Johns wife), made plans on March 17, 1865, tocapture Lincoln, who was scheduled to see a play at a hospital in the outskirtsof Washington. However, Lincoln changed plans and remained in the capital(“Booth” 98) On April 9, 1865, General Lee surrendered to GeneralGrant at Appomattox. Two days later Lincoln delivered a speech in front of theWhite House to a group that had gathered outside. Booth, being present in thisgroup, heard Lincoln suggest that certain voting rights should be granted to theblacks. Infuriated, being a racist, Booths plans now turned from thekidnapping of Lincoln to his assassination (Lewis, Neely 115) Three days beforehis assassination Lincoln told of a dream he had to his wife and one of hisfriends, Ward Hill Lamon. According to Lamon, the President said: “Aboutten days ago, I retired very late.Order now
I had been waiting up for some importantdispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into aslumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-likestillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people wereweeping.
I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence wasbroken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went fromroom to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds ofdistress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every objectwas familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if theirhearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of allthis? Determined to find the cause of the state of things so mysterious andshocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There Imet a sickening surprise.
Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpsewrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were actingas guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse,whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. Who is dead in the WhiteHouse? I demanded of one of the soldiers, The President, was hisanswer; he was killed by an assassin. Then came a loud burst of grief fromthe crows, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and althoughit was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it eversince. “((Online) http://members.
aol. com. . . ) Was it possible that PresidentLincoln knew of his assassination before it actually happened? On the morning ofFriday, April 14, Booth stopped by Fords Theatre and found out that PresidentLincoln and General Grant were planning on attending the evening performance ofOur American Cousin.
Booth then held one final meeting with the conspirators andsaid he would kill Lincoln at the theater, he had found out that Grant had lefttown. Atzerodt was to kill the Vice-President Andrew Johnson at Kirkwood Housewhere he resided. Powell and Herold were assigned to kill the Secretary of StateWilliam Seward. Both attacks were scheduled to take place simultaneously atapproximately 10:15 p.
m. that night. Booth hoped that the resulting chaos andweakness in the government could lead to a comeback for the South (:Lewis, Neely187) At about 7:00 p. m.
William H. Crook, Lincolns bodyguard, was relievedthree hours late by John Parker. Parker was told to be on hand at FordsTheatre when the Presidential party got there. Crook said, “Good night, Mr. Lincoln. ” The President replied, “Good-bye, Crook.
” According toCrook this was a first. Lincoln ALWAYS previously said, “Good night,Crook. “(Reck 148) Around 8:00 p. m.
the Lincolns left the White House in astage coach and proceeded to pick up Clara Harris and Major Rathbone. Parker ledthe way into the theater, with the play already in progress. When Lincolnentered the acting stopped and they played “Hail to the Chief. ” Theaudience rose to their feet and applauded the President. Once he was seated inthe state box the play continued.
Booth arrived at Fords Theatre at 9:30 p. m. armed with a single shot derringer and a hunting knife. Joseph Burroughs, a boywho worked at the theater held his horse in the rear alley while Booth went toget a drink at a nearby saloon.
He reentered the theater at 10:07 p. m. andslowly made his way towards the state box. John Parker had just left his post. At about 10:15 p. m.
, Booth opened the door and shot Lincoln in the back of thehead at near point-blank range, and struggled with Rathbone. Booth stabbedRathbone in the arm and jumped about eleven feet to the stage. When he crashedto the floor he snapped the fibula bone in his left leg. Many in the theaterthought they heard him yell “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” latin for “asalways to tyrants. ” Booth flashed his knife to the crowd and made his wayacross the stage in front of more than 1,000 people. It happened so quick no onehad time to stop him.
Booth escaped out the back door and left the city (Lewis,Neely 261-263). The other half of the plan to kill Vice-President Johnson andSecretary of State Seward was basically a failure. Atzerodt made no attempt tokill Johnson, and Powell stabbed Seward but it failed to kill him. Heroldescaped from the capital using the same bridge, the Navy Yard Bridge, as BoothThe two met in Maryland and stopped briefly around midnight in Mary Surrattstavern, where they had supplies ready to flee to the South. At around 4:00 a. m.
they arrived at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd who set and splinted Boothsbroken leg. Back in Washington, the bullet had entered Lincolns head aboutthree inches behind his left ear and traveled about seven and a half inches intothe brain. The first doctor to attend to the President was Charles Leale. Heknew right then that the wound was mortal and the President wouldnt be ableto recover. Lincolns body was carried across the street to the PetersonHouse.
Armed soldiers guarded the house while a night long death watch began. Doctors said an average man with this type of wound would have died in twohours, Lincoln lasted nine. At 7:22 and 10 seconds a. m. on April 15, 1865President Abraham Lincoln was dead. Upon hearing of the news Secretary of WarEdwin M.
Stanton said, “Now he belongs to the ages. ” Federalauthorities caught up with Booth and Herold at Garretts farm near Port Royal,Virginia on the morning of April 26. Hiding in a barn, Herold gave up, but Boothwould not so he has fatally shot. Within days of their capture theco-conspirators were arrested by the government. All were found guilty by amilitary tribunal. Mrs.
Surratt, Powell, Atzerdot, and Herold were all hanged onJuly 7, 1865. Dr. Mudd, OLaughlin, and Arnold were given life terms inprison. John Surratt fled to Canada and then escaped to Europe, where he wascaptured and was tried in 1867 in a civil court. The jury was deadlocked andSurratt went free. Dr.
Mudd and Arnold were all pardoned by President AndrewJohnson early in 1869. Bibliography”Booth, John Wilkes. ” Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. 1979ed. Lewis, Llloyd, and Mark E.
Neely. The Assassination of Lincoln: History andMyth. Columbia, S. C. : University of South Carolina Press, 1994.
(Online) http://members. aol. com/RVSNorton/Lincoln46. html,10, January 1999. Reck, Emerson W.
A. Lincoln: His Last 24 Hours. Omaha, N. B. :University of Nebraska Press, 1994.