The Gun That Killed Abraham Lincoln

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln was once of the most significant events in the history of the United States. It was the first assassination of an American president, and it resulted in great mourning throughout the nation. This tragic event continues to draw immense interest and speculation today, and many mysteries that surround it remain unsolved.

Where, When, and Who Killed President Lincoln

President Lincoln was assassinated on the 14th of April, 1865, which was a Good Friday. The American Civil War was coming to an end, and the president was attending a play called Our American Cousin with first lady Mary Todd Lincoln at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC. Half way through the play, an actor by the name of John Wilkes Booth entered the Presidential Box where Lincoln was seated, and shot him in the head with a pistol.

Booth’s Assassination Plan

Booth was a Confederacy supporter. After the main Confederate army surrendered to the Union forces, he felt a strong need to do something to inspire the Confederate troops to mount a resurgence. He made up his mind to assassinate Lincoln after he heard the president talk about giving voting rights to former slaves. On the day of the assassination, he came to know that Lincoln would be attending a play at the Ford’s Theatre that night. He made arrangements with the owner of a boarding house, Mary Surratt, to have his guns and ammunition ready for pickup at a tavern. Booth intended to shoot the president with a single-shot derringer and stab General Ulysses Grant with a knife, and he also assigned his fellow conspirators to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson as well as Secretary of State William Steward. They would strike simultaneously after 10:00 p.m.

Act of Assassination and Death of President Lincoln

General Grant decided not to attend the play, and President Lincoln was accompanied by Major Henry Rathbone instead. The president arrived late, and he was seated in the Presidential Box. A policeman called John Frederick Parker was supposed to guard the Presidential Box, but he went to a tavern during the intermission and never returned in time to stop the assassination. Booth waited for the perfect moment to strike, when the lead actor would be alone on the stage and there would be enough noise from the audience to muffle a gunshot. When that moment arrived, he quickly entered the Presidential Box and fired the gun at the back of Lincoln’s head. The president was mortally wounded, and he slumped over in his chair. Major Rathbone tried to stop Booth from escaping, but he was stabbed in the arm.

Capturing the Murderer

Booth managed to escape from Ford’s Theatre, and he rode a horse to Navy Yard Bridge to meet with his conspirators. From there, he made his way to the home of a doctor called Samuel A. Mudd to get treatment for his injured leg, which was fractured while he was escaping from the theater. After that, he hid in Zekiah Swamp for five days and then traveled to the farm of a tobacco farmer called Richard H. Garrett. On the 26th of April, 1865, Union soldiers surrounded the farm, and they were forced to shoot Booth because he resisted arrest. Booth passed way about two hours after he was shot in the neck.

The Trial

After the assassination, many people who were suspected of being accomplices were arrested. Booth’s main conspirators, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and Lewis Powell, as well as Mary Surratt were executed by hanging. Three other people who were involved in the conspiracy, Samuel Arnold, Samuel Mudd, and Michael O’Laughlen, were sentenced to life imprisonment, while others were imprisoned and released. The Lincoln assassination trial lasted for seven weeks.

Impact of Death on the Nation

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln devastated the nation. In some cities, his supporters attacked those who expressed support for the assassination. President Lincoln’s funeral procession was attended by millions of Americans, and the transportation of his body to Springfield, Illinois was viewed by millions more.

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