The 16th President of the United States, was assassinated by well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. He was the first U.S. president to be assassinated, with his funeral and burial marking an extended period of national mourning.

The Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre / Image: utahsadventurefamily.com

Policeman John Frederick Parker was assigned to guard the president’s box of Ford’s Theatre. At intermission he went to a nearby tavern. Policeman was certainly not at his post when Booth entered the box. In any event, there is no certainty that entry would have been denied to a celebrity such as Booth. About 10:30 pm, Booth opened the door, stepped forward, and shot Lincoln from behind with a derringer. The bullet entered Lincoln’s skull behind his left ear.

The officer Henry Reed Rathbone who was sitting with his fiancée, Clara Harris, next to the President and his wife, jumped from his seat and struggled with Booth, who dropped the pistol and drew a knife, then stabbed Rathbone in the left forearm. Rathbone again grabbed at Booth as Booth prepared to jump from the box to the stage. As he began crossing the stage, many in the audience thought he was part of the play.

Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland and, 12 days later, at a farm in rural northern Virginia, was tracked down sheltered in a barn.

The Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre / Image: thehistoricalhomemaker.com
Ford’s Theatre / Image: fords.org

Featured Image: John Wilkes Booth leaning forward to shoot President Abraham Lincoln / Image: T. M. McAllister of New York via Wikipedia

Websites: fords.org



 

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