The assassination of former President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, was one of the most notorious events in American history. Lincoln was attending Laura Keene’s acclaimed performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. when he was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War.

It was later uncovered that the famous actor was a Confederate sympathizer and was trying to save the South. As the war entered its final stages, Booth and six fellow conspirators hatched a plot to kidnap the president and take him to Richmond, VA, the confederate capital. The plan fell through when Lincoln failed to appear at the spot of the scheduled kidnapping in March. The next month, Booth came up with a desperate plan to assassinate the president, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward in hopes to throw the U.S. government into disarray.

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The search for Booth was one of the largest manhunts in history, with 10,000 federal troops, detectives and police tracking down the assassin. On April 26, Union troops set fire to the Virginia farmhouse where Booth and co-conspirator David Herold were hiding in an effort to clear the fugitives out. As Booth raised his gun to shoot the troops, a Union sergeant shot him dead. Herold surrendered and was convicted for his part of the assassination and executed with three other co-conspirators.

Such heinous acts have proven time after time how anger can motivate acts of violence. It is a great blessing to be patient with all different beliefs and we should all be willing to learn another’s point of view.

This is a piece of the bed sheet from the Mercury One historical collection that Lincoln was laying on the night he was killed. Photo courtesy of Mercury One.

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