The assassination of United States President Abraham Lincoln took place on April 14, 1865, as the American Civil War was drawing to a close, just five days after the surrender of the commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee, and his battered Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated, though an unsuccessful attempt had been made on Andrew Jackson in 1835.
The assassination was planned and carried out by well-known actor John Wilkes Booth as part of a larger conspiracy intended to rally the remaining Confederate troops to continue fighting. Booth plotted with Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson as well. By simultaneously striking down the top three in the line of succession, Booth and his co-conspirators hoped to throw the Union government into disarray.
Lincoln was shot while watching the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. He died the next morning. The rest of the plot failed. Powell only managed to wound Seward, while Atzerodt, Johnson's would-be assassin, lost his nerve and fled.
History, theories and anecdotes
The "larger conspiracy" included MANY others according to several documentaries and books. Several conspirators, that were not hunted down and killed, fled the country most ending up in Europe.
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- John Wilkes Booth (1838-1865)
Proclaimed assassin of President Abraham Lincoln. Booth was a famous theater actor who enamored all who met him. He performed in Ford's theater and new the building well. He continued to perform at Ford's theater unit mid March 1865. He left the stage in order to concentrate on crafting his plot against President Lincoln.
- MARY SURRATT (1823-1865)
Mary owned and operated the Surratt Boardinghouse where Booth and his co-conspirators were said to have boarded and visited often. Mary Surratt was the first woman ever executed by the United States.
- John Harrison Surratt (1844-1916) Mary Surratt's son, an original Booth co-conspirator in the Lincoln kidnapping plot. The prosecution could not refute eye witness testimony placing Surratt in New York at the time the assassination took place. He was released after a hung jury. Young Surratt later spoke about being involved in the kidnapping plot but emphatically denied knowing about the Lincoln assassination.
- GEORGE ATZERODT (1835-1865)
Arrested as a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Lincoln on April 20. In his confession Atzerodt implicated Mary Surratt and Dr. Mudd. He was found guilty before a military tribunal and sentenced to death by hanging.
- LEWIS POWELL (1844-1865)
Powell was a major Booth co-conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Powell's part in the plot to murder top government leaders was to murder Secretary of State Seward. David Herald waited outside Sewards's home while Powell confronted the occupants. Family members sustained injuries from the brawl. Powell managed to reach Seward and he stabbed him several times. Powell then fled the scene to find Herald nowhere in sight. Powell was captured at the Surratt Boardinghouse and later sentenced and hung for his crimes.
- DAVID LEE HEROLD (1842-1865)
Herald fled the Secretary of State Seward's home to meet up with Booth. On April 26, 1865 Herald was cornered in a barn by soldiers along with Booth. After a standoff herald decided to surrender. He maintained his innocence throughout interrogation and trial. However, he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
- DR. SAMUEL MUDD (1833-1883)
Mudd treated the broken left leg of Booth on April 15, 1865. Mudd could not convince the authorities he did not know or recognize Booth and was sentenced to life in prison. After serving just three and a half years, Mudd was pardoned by President Johnson in 1869.
- SAMUEL ARNOLD (1834-1906)
Childhood friend of Booth. Arnold confessed to the being involved in the original conspiracy to kidnap President Lincoln but maintained his innocence to the assassination. Arnold was sentenced to life in prison. In March of 1869 Arnold was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.
- MICHAEL O'LAUGHLEN (1840-1867)
A boyhood neighbor of Booth, Spangler was an original co-conspiritor in the plot to abduct Lincoln. He turned himself into authorities on April 17, 1865. He was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
- EDMAN SPANGLER (1825-1875)
Spangler was working at Fords's theater the night Lincoln was shot. He was arrested on April 17, 1865 as a Booth Conspirator and sentenced to six years in prison. In 1869 President Andrew Johnson pardoned Spangler and he was released
Links and Resources
- Abraham Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies
- Abraham Lincoln Assassination
- Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
- Lincoln Assassination and TRUE Interesting Facts
- Abraham Lincoln's Assassination — History.com
- Abraham Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies - Simple Plots or Grand Conspiracies?
- Abraham Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies - Lesser Conspiracies and Conclusions