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Tue Apr 14, 2015, 07:40 AM

 

150 years ago tonight: Lincoln shot at Ford's Theatre...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Abraham_Lincoln



United States President Abraham Lincoln was shot on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre as the American Civil War was drawing to a close.[1] The assassination occurred five days after the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army of the Potomac.

Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.[2] An unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson 30 years before in 1835, and Lincoln had himself been the subject of an earlier assassination attempt by an unknown assailant in August 1864. The assassination of Lincoln was planned and carried out by the well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth, as part of a larger conspiracy in a bid to revive the Confederate cause.
Booth's three co-conspirators were Lewis Powell and David Herold, who were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and George Atzerodt who was tasked to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson. By simultaneously eliminating the top three people in the administration, Booth and his co-conspirators hoped to sever the continuity of the United States government.

Lincoln was shot while watching the play Our American Cousin with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.. He died early the next morning. The rest of the conspirators' plot failed; Powell only managed to wound Seward, while Atzerodt, Johnson's would-be assassin, lost his nerve and fled. The funeral and burial of Abraham Lincoln was a period of national mourning.

<snip>

Booth shoots President Lincoln

Contrary to the information Booth had overheard, General and Mrs. Grant had declined the invitation to see the play with the Lincolns, as Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Grant were not on good terms. Several other people were invited to join them, until finally Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris (daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris) accepted.

Lincoln told Speaker Schuyler Colfax, “I suppose it’s time to go though I would rather stay.” He assisted Mary into the carriage and they took off.

There is evidence to suggest that either Booth or his fellow conspirator Michael O'Laughlen, who looked similar, followed Grant and his wife Julia to Union Station late that afternoon and discovered that Grant would not be at the theater that night. Apparently, O'Laughlen boarded the same train the Grants took to Philadelphia in order to kill Grant. An alleged attack during the evening took place; however, the assailant was unsuccessful since the private car that the Grants were riding in had been locked and guarded by porters.[15]
The Lincoln party arrived late and settled into the Presidential Box, which was actually two corner box seats with the dividing wall between them removed. The play was stopped briefly and the orchestra played "Hail to the Chief" as the audience gave the president a rousing standing ovation. Ford's Theatre was full with 1,700 in attendance.[16] Mrs. Lincoln whispered to her husband, who was holding her hand, "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?" The president smiled and replied, "She won't think anything about it". Those were the last words ever spoken by Abraham Lincoln, although it was claimed he later told his wife he desired to visit the Holy Land, finishing by saying, "There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem."

The box was supposed to be guarded by a policeman named John Frederick Parker who, by all accounts, was a curious choice for a bodyguard.[18] During the intermission, Parker went to a nearby tavern with Lincoln's footman and coachman. It is unclear whether he ever returned to the theatre, but he was certainly not at his post when Booth entered the box.[19] Nevertheless, even if a policeman had been present it is questionable at best as to whether he would have denied entry to the Presidential Box to a premier actor such as John Wilkes Booth - Booth's celebrity status meant that his approach did not warrant any questioning from audience members, who assumed he was coming to call on the President. Dr. George Brainerd Todd, a Navy Surgeon who had been aboard when the Lincolns visited his ship the monitor Montauk on April 14, was also present at Ford's Theatre that evening and wrote in an eyewitness account that:

About 10:25 pm, a man came in and walked slowly along the side on which the "Pres" box was and I heard a man say, "There's Booth" and I turned my head to look at him. He was still walking very slow and was near the box door when he stopped, took a card from his pocket, wrote something on it, and gave it to the usher who took it to the box. In a minute the door was opened and he walked in.


Upon gaining access through the first door of the entry to the Presidential Box, Booth barricaded the inward-swinging door behind him with a wooden stick that he wedged between the wall and the door. He then turned around, and looked through the tiny peep-hole he had carved in the second door (which granted entry to the Presidential Box) earlier that day.

Although he had never starred in the play itself, Booth knew the play by heart, and thus waited for the precise moment when actor Harry Hawk (playing the lead role of the "cousin", Asa Trenchard), would be on stage alone to speak what was considered the funniest line of the play. Booth hoped to employ the enthusiastic response of the audience to muffle the sound of his gunshot. With the stage to himself, Asa (Hawk) responded to the recently departed Mrs. Mountchessington, "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal; you sockdologizing old man-trap!" Hysterical laughter began permeating the theatre. Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot.

Booth opened the door, crept forward and shot the President at point-blank range, mortally wounding him. The bullet struck the back of Lincoln's head behind his left ear, entered his skull, fractured part of it badly and went through the left side of his brain before lodging just above his right eye almost exiting the other side of his head. Lincoln immediately lost consciousness. Lincoln slumped over in his rocking chair, and then backward. Mary reached out, caught him, and then screamed when she realized what had happened.

Upon hearing the gunshot, Rathbone thought Booth shouted a word that sounded like "Freedom!" He quickly jumped from his seat and tried to prevent Booth from escaping, grabbing and struggling with him. Booth dropped the pistol on the floor and drew a knife, stabbing the major violently in the left forearm and reaching the bone. Rathbone quickly recovered and again tried to grab Booth as he was preparing to jump from the sill of the box. He grabbed onto Booth's coat causing Booth to vault over the rail of the box down to the stage below (about a twelve-foot drop).[23] In the process, Booth's right boot struck the framed engraving of Washington, turning it completely over and his riding spur became entangled on the Treasury flag decorating the box, and he landed awkwardly on his left foot. He raised himself up despite the injury and began crossing the stage, making the audience believe that he was part of the play. Booth held his bloody knife over his head, and yelled something to the audience.

While it is widely believed that Booth shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" (the Virginia state motto, meaning "Thus always to tyrants" in Latin) in the box, or when he landed on the stage, it's not actually clear whether the traditionally-cited quote by Booth is accurate. There are different "earwitness" accounts of what he said. While most witnesses recalled hearing Booth shout "Sic semper tyrannis!", others — including Booth himself — claimed that he only yelled "Sic semper!" Some didn't recall hearing Booth shout anything in Latin.

What Booth shouted in English is also muddied by varying recollections. Some witnesses said he shouted "The South is avenged!" Others thought they heard him say "Revenge for the South!" or "The South shall be free!" Two said Booth yelled "I have done it!"

While the audience were yet to realize what had happened, Maj. Joseph B. Stewart, a lawyer, rose instantly upon seeing Booth land on the stage and he climbed over the orchestra pit and footlights, and started pursuing Booth across the stage.[23] Mary Lincoln's and Clara Harris' screams and Rathbone's cries of "Stop that man!" caused the rest of the audience to realize that Booth's actions were not part of the show, and pandemonium immediately broke out.

Some of the men in the audience chased after him when they noticed what was going on, but failed to catch him. Booth ran across the stage just when Rathbone shouted and exited out the side door. On his way, he bumped into William Withers, Jr., the orchestra leader, and Booth stabbed at Withers with a knife.

Upon leaving the building, Booth approached the horse he had waiting outside. Booth struck Joseph "Peanuts" (also called "Peanut Johnny"[27] Burroughs, who was holding Booth's horse[28] in the forehead with the handle of his knife,[29] leaped onto the horse, apparently also kicking Burroughs in the chest with his good leg,[30] and rode away.
Katherine M. Evans, a young actress in the play, who was offstage in Ford's green room when Lincoln was shot, rushed on the stage after Booth's exit, and said in subsequent interviews in the 1900s "I looked and saw President Lincoln unconscious, his head dropping on his breast, his eyes closed, but with a smile still on his face".

</snip>


On edit: There's an event taking place tonight @ Ford's Theatre that will be live-streamed online: http://www.fords.org/event/lincoln-commemoration

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Reply 150 years ago tonight: Lincoln shot at Ford's Theatre... (Original post)
Cooley Hurd Apr 2015 OP
cali Apr 2015 #1
Cooley Hurd Apr 2015 #3
AngryAmish Apr 2015 #2
Cooley Hurd Apr 2015 #4
Siwsan Apr 2015 #5
Cooley Hurd Apr 2015 #6
Are_grits_groceries Apr 2015 #7
el_bryanto Apr 2015 #8
Are_grits_groceries Apr 2015 #9
cbdo2007 Apr 2015 #10
John1956PA Apr 2015 #11
cbdo2007 Apr 2015 #12

Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 07:44 AM

1. You might find this interesting: Original AP Report of Lincoln's Assassination

 

On the night Abraham Lincoln was shot, April 14, 1865, Associated Press correspondent Lawrence Gobright scrambled to report from the White House, the streets of the stricken capital, and even from the blood-stained box at Ford's Theatre, where, in his memoir he reports he was handed the assassin's gun and turned it over to authorities. Here is an edited version of his original AP dispatch:

———

WASHINGTON, APRIL 14 — President Lincoln and wife visited Ford's Theatre this evening for the purpose of witnessing the performance of 'The American Cousin.' It was announced in the papers that Gen. Grant would also be present, but that gentleman took the late train of cars for New Jersey.

The theatre was densely crowded, and everybody seemed delighted with the scene before them. During the third act and while there was a temporary pause for one of the actors to enter, a sharp report of a pistol was heard, which merely attracted attention, but suggested nothing serious until a man rushed to the front of the President's box, waving a long dagger in his right hand, exclaiming, 'Sic semper tyrannis,' and immediately leaped from the box, which was in the second tier, to the stage beneath, and ran across to the opposite side, made his escape amid the bewilderment of the audience from the rear of the theatre, and mounted a horse and fled.

The groans of Mrs. Lincoln first disclosed the fact that the President had been shot, when all present rose to their feet rushing towards the stage, many exclaiming, 'Hang him, hang him!' The excitement was of the wildest possible description...

There was a rush towards the President's box, when cries were heard — 'Stand back and give him air!' 'Has anyone stimulants?' On a hasty examination it was found that the President had been shot through the head above and back of the temporal bone, and that some of his brain was oozing out. He was removed to a private house opposite the theatre, and the Surgeon General of the Army and other surgeons were sent for to attend to his condition.

<snip>

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/ap-original-ap-report-lincolns-assassination-30283824

Thanks for the thread.

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Response to cali (Reply #1)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:04 AM

3. That *IS* fascinating!!!!

 

Thank you for that!

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 07:48 AM

2. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

 

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Response to AngryAmish (Reply #2)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:05 AM

4. *rimshot*

 

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:18 AM

5. I read Jim Bishop's "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" when I was about 13 and it still haunts me

I have no idea how historically accurate it was, but it painted a very clear mental and emotional picture, for me, that I have never been able to shake.

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Response to Siwsan (Reply #5)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:22 AM

6. I've read it, too - great book!

 

...also read his book "The Day Kennedy Was Shot". He's a talented writer whose attention to detail is amazing.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:28 AM

7. And that was the worst thing for the South!

I remember one of the times my cousins and I were talking about the Civil War. It was because Ken Burn's excellent series that was broadcast. Believe it or not, we rarely talked about the war.

We were on the front porch and one of my cousins said,"And then Lincoln was shot." We shook our heads and sat there in silence for a long time. We stared off into the distance as twilight fell and the whippoorwills started to cry.

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Response to Are_grits_groceries (Reply #7)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:31 AM

8. I don't know

It's certainly possible that Lincoln would have been able to finesse things better than Andrew Johnson - he might also have been able to keep corruption down. But, given the lengths the South was willing to go to to preserve their dominance over black people, actually achieving justice in that situation might have been beyond even his powers.

Bryant

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Response to el_bryanto (Reply #8)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:35 AM

9. True

However, he was a much better bet than Johnson. He was also a very smart man and canny politician. BTW I think Johnson has been unfairly maligned IMO. He deserves criticism, but not all of it.

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 08:42 AM

10. I'm fascinated by the assassination.

And have collected my own personal library of all books associated, which I read often. Will be watching the "Killing Lincoln" documentary tonight, I'm sure my wife is thrilled

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Response to Cooley Hurd (Original post)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 11:38 AM

11. I thought that Google Doodle might commemorate the anniversary.

Doing so would have alerted many Google visitors to the milestone anniversary.

However, I am not surprised by the media's general overlooking of it.

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Response to John1956PA (Reply #11)

Tue Apr 14, 2015, 01:54 PM

12. They probably will tomorrow for Pres Lincoln's death.

I could see them not wanting to necessarily commemorate the actual assassination.

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