10.22.2014  |   | Subscribe  | Contact us

EDUCATION

Aftermath

Assassination of a president

John Wilkes Booth
President Abraham Lincoln was relieved when the war ended. He had endured four years of fighting against his own countrymen, and it can be seen in photographs how aged and tired he appeared.

He was confident that the South could be brought back into the Union with little problem, and the country could begin the long process of healing.

In his second Inaugural address Lincoln had said, "With malice toward none, with charity for all." He wanted goodwill, not anger, toward the South. It would take years, Lincoln knew, to rebuild the nation, but he was determined to see that the country became one again; a strong America. This was not to happen, however, as people plotted against him.

John Wilkes Booth was an actor in Washington who was a confederate sympathizer. He hated Lincoln and had wanted to kidnap him, but after the war ended, he decided instead to assassinate the President. Booth had help from several people, called a conspiracy, and they succeeded in their plan to kill Lincoln on April 14, 1865.

President Lincoln and his wife had decided to attend a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington on the night of April 14th. Booth slipped into the President's box, only moments after the guard had walked away, and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. The assassin then leapt from the box onto the stage, while the people in the theatre were panicked and confused. Booth escaped. Abraham Lincoln died the next day, and the news of his death spread across the country on Easter weekend.

This is the private box in Ford's Theater.

The conspirators were quickly captured and put on trial, and after a large manhunt, federal agents killed Booth as he was surrounded in a barn outside of Washington. The trials did not last long, and the conspirators were quickly sentenced to prison, while some were hanged. The nation mourned the loss of their President.

Back | Next

The story

1. A Nation Divided

2. Events and Battles

3. Leaders

4. Daily Life

5. Aftermath


Activities

North or South?

Match the abolitionist

What would you do?

Name that leader

Study the artifact

Be a columnist

Interactive map


Help

SOL Civil War key word index

Glossary