Introduction

In the early morning of April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln succumbed to a gunshot wound to the head, and became the first United States president to be assassinated. While the president and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, were taking in the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., John Wilkes Booth entered the Presidential box where they were seated and fired one shot. In one terrifying instant, most of the nation was left griefstricken and without a leader.

Booth, a famous actor, knew the theatre's staff and floorplan very well, and went in and out of its room throughout that fateful day, planning his attack. He viewed Lincoln as a most vile tyrant. Certainly, Lincoln was an "enemy" to Booth's beloved South, whom had just conceded the brutal Civil War on April 9. Booth felt killing Abraham Lincoln was not only going to give much-needed relief to the Confederate army and government was they could regroup and continue to the Southern struggle, but he felt it was his destiny.

With this website, I hope to give you a sufficient, albeit brief, look at Booth and that night and that gunshot which forever changed the United States of America.

For a much more comprehensive and insightful look at the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, I suggest reading Edward Steers, Jr.'s Blood on the Moon (The University Press of Kentucky), which offers in incredible detail the events leading up to, during, and after that night at Ford's Theatre.

- Chad Smith

This lithograph depicts John Wilkes Booth jumping to the stage of Ford's Theatre after shooting President Lincoln:
John Wilkes Booth jumping to the stage of Ford's Theatre after shooting President Lincoln; photo: Library of Congress (www.loc.gov)