President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated 150 years ago Tuesday. John Wilkes Booth, an actor and supporter of the Confederacy, fatally shot Lincoln in the head at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., during an evening performance of "Our American Cousin." The president died at 7:22 a.m. the next day.
Booth and a group of Confederate sympathizers had originally planned to kidnap Lincoln for ransom, but the plan failed, the History Channel says. After Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered April 9, 1865, the group was motivated to take more decisive action. They set out to simultaneously kill Union Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Secretary of State William Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson, hoping to cause chaos in the government.
On the night of April 14, Lincoln, his wife, army officer Henry Rathbone and his fiancée were sitting in a private box when Booth entered. He used a .44-caliber single-shot Derringer to fire at the back of Lincoln's head, timing his shot so audience laughter would muffle the noise. Booth stabbed Rathbone and jumped down onto the stage, breaking his leg and escaping. He is said to have shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" (the state motto of Virginia, meaning "Thus be to tyrants") before fleeing.
The Union immediately started a manhunt for Booth. About 10,000 soldiers tracked him to a farm in Virginia, where he was hiding in a barn. The troops set the barn on fire and shot Booth, who died about three hours later on April 26. His last words were, "Tell my mother I died for my country. I did what I thought was best," the New York Times reported.
- The president is said to have dreamed about his assassination before it happened.
- Booth saw Lincoln speak on April 11, 1865, and when the latter addressed slavery, Booth vowed that it was "the last speech he will ever give."
- Lincoln and his wife were late for the play.
- The president had seen Booth perform before at Ford's Theatre and noticed how Booth seemed to "look very sharp" at him in the box.
- Lincoln was laughing at the line, "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!" when he was shot.
- The play's audience initially thought that all the commotion around Lincoln and Booth was part of the play.
- The Secret Service had been established that day before Lincoln left for the theater.
- Though all three leaders were supposed to die as part of the Booth group's assassination plot, only Lincoln did. Lewis Powell only stabbed Seward, and George Atzerodt never even attacked Johnson. Grant skipped the play that night and was unharmed.
- While on the run, Booth stopped at a doctor's house to get treatment for his broken leg. Samuel Mudd took care of the injury and was later arrested for helping the shooter. Mudd was sentenced to life in prison and eventually pardoned by President Andrew Johnson for his involvement.
- Lincoln's funeral train traveled about 1,600 miles through 400 cities for about two weeks. The exhumed casket of his son, William Wallace Lincoln, went with him, but his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, was too distraught to go. The president was buried May 4, 1865, in Springfield, Illinois.