Who Killed Abraham Lincoln?
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the US, was the country’s third serving president to die while in office, although the first to be assassinated. His assassination happened on April 14, 1865. Abraham Lincoln had already escaped an earlier assassination attempt in August 1864. The successful assassination of Lincoln was planned and executed by well-known actor John Wilkes Booth as part of an effort to revive the Confederation cause and overthrow the North. His co-conspirators in the killing included Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt who was assigned to kill the Secretary of State and the Vice President Andrew Johnson. By eliminating the top three government officials, the assassinators hoped to severe the continuity of the US government.
John Wilkin Booth
Booth, born on May 10, 1838, was a prominent and well-known actor. He was named after a radical English politician, John Wilkin, who was also his distant cousin. As a young boy, Booth met a Gypsum fortune teller who predicted that his destiny would be grim and that he would have an eventful but short life that would meet a dead end. He made his stage debut in 1855 at the age of 17 as a supporting actor and developed into an infamous scene stealer who was extremely popular with audiences. Booth became one of the first leading actors to perform at the Ford’s Theater when it was opened. He was against the abolition of slavery in the US. As an actor, Booth traveled extensively in the North and South in the 1860s. When Lincoln was elected the president of the US in 1860, Booth did not hide his hatred for him.
Booth’s Plot to Kidnap Lincoln
The Confederacy’s prospect of winning the 1864 Presidential election was ebbing with the Civil War favoring the North. Booth could not handle the prospect of Lincoln becoming the president of the US. He saw Lincoln as responsible for all of the war and the suffering in the South. He began to draft plans to kidnap Lincoln from his house in Old Soldiers Home. His plan was to smuggle the president to Richmond across the Potomac River and would only be set free after the Confederate Army prisoners who were held captive in the Northern prisons were set free. Booth devoted his energy and resources to kidnapping Lincoln. On March 17, 1865, Booth stationed his team on the road near the Soldier’s Home that was to be used by the president on that day to the hospital nearby to watch a play “Still Waters Run Deep” in an attempt to kidnap the president.
Assassination of Lincoln
Booth was informed of President Lincoln’s plan to watch a performance at the Ford’s Theater on the morning of April 14, 1865, and immediately set about to plan for his assassination. He also assigned for the killing of the vice president and the Secretary of State. Booth had access to all sections of the theater including the presidential box from where Lincoln was watching the play. He slipped into Lincoln’s box at around 2200hrs as the play was going on and shot Lincoln at the back of his head using a .41caliber Derringer. Familiar with the play, Booth knew that a line was upcoming that would cause audience laughs and in turn, distraction. He managed to escape after his struggle with Major Henry Rathbone who was also in the president’s box along with First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln. However, Booth was tracked in Garret’s tobacco barn weeks later and shot dead by Sergeant Boston Corbett.