Who Shot Abraham Lincoln Presented by



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Who Shot Abraham Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Here is the story:

John Wilkes Booth, a popular actor, ended his full-time stage career in May of 1864. The Maryland native wanted to spend most of his time on his primary interest--supporting the Confederate States of America. Within months, Booth was working actively with Confederate partisans. A Plan to capture President Lincoln and exchange him for Confederate prisoners of war brought Booth into contact with Dr. Samuel Mudd, John Surratt, his mother Mary, Lewis Thorton Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and others. It failed when, on the day chosen for the capture, President Lincoln changed his plans and did not travel on the road where conspirators were waiting.

This March 17, 1865 failure was quickly followed by two major Confederate defeats. Richmond, the capital of Confederacy, was abandoned to Union troops and on Palm Sunday, April 9th, Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to General Grant.

Soon after these defeats, Booth decided to assassinate President Lincoln while Powell was to kill Secretary of State Seward, and Atzerodt was to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson. Booth hoped to throw the country into political chaos.

Within hours of Lincoln's shooting, Booth fled Washington on horseback and met Herold on the road. Both men rode into southern Maryland. The pain from the broken small bone in his left leg (broken in the escape from the State Box at Ford's Theatre) led Booth and Herold to stop at Dr. Mudd's home for medical aid.

On April 26th, twelve days after having killed the President, Booth and Herold were surrounded while hiding in a tobacco shed in Port Royal, Virginia. Herold surrendered to the Union troops, but Booth held out and was shot while the shed burned down around him.

Other conspirators were soon arrested. Atzerodt, Herold, Powell, and Mrs. Surratt were all found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. Dr. Mudd and two others involved in original capture attempt were sentenced to life in prison. Edman Spangler, who held Booth's horse during the assassination, was sentenced to six years hard labor. In 1869, President Andrew Johnson pardoned surviving conspirators.