The Day Lincoln Was Shot

Posted in History, Library of Congress, War by chamblee54 on April 14, 2022










PG has read The Day Lincoln Was Shot. It is written so that the casual reader can enjoy it. There is a powerful history lesson here, and worth the twenty five cents PG paid at Book Nook. The pictures for this book report are from The Library of Congress. This is a repost.

This book contradicts another book PG read. Genius and Heroin reports that Mary Todd Lincoln had a bad headache on April 14, 1864. Some opium was found for her, and she was able to go to Ford’s Theater that evening. TDLWS does not mention this.

The story begins in the weeks leading up to “Good Friday”. John Wilkes Booth was in the crowd at Mr. Lincoln’s second inauguration. Vice President Andrew Johnson was also there, and made a drunken fool of himself. Mr. Johnson did not meet with Mr. Lincoln until the afternoon of April 14.

John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor, He made $20,000 a year as a performer. Mr. Booth was also a fan of the Confederacy, and launched a plan to kidnap Mr. Lincoln. There was an attempt to kidnap the President, but Mr. Lincoln did not show up as planned. The conspiracy of Mr. Booth almost broke up, and was reduced to four men.

The four men…John Wilkes Booth, Lewis Paine, David Herrold, and George Atzerodt … met at a boarding house owned by Mary Sarratt. Ultimately, Booth went to Ford’s Theater to kill the President. Lewis Paine and David Herrold tried to kill Secretary of State William Seward. George Atzerodt took a room at Kirkland’s boarding house, and was supposed to take out Vice President Andrew Johnson. Mary Sarratt was not involved in the plot, but was executed by hanging anyway.

In the weeks before Good Friday, a few things happened. On March 7, the door to box seven at Ford’s Theater was broken down, and the lock broken. On April 5, Secretary of State William Seward was badly injured in a carriage accident. On April 9, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses Grant, ending the War Between the States.

Part of the celebration was a theater party on Friday, April 14. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln were to join Gen. and Mrs. Grant at Ford’s Theater. The show was “Our American Cousin”, starring Laura Keene. The Grants did not really want to go, and decided to catch a train to New Jersey. They wanted to see their children. Mrs. Grant had also witnessed a temper tantrum by Mrs. Lincoln, and was possibly avoiding the hot headed first lady.

Mr. Booth decided that this was the night for action. He went by the Kirkwood house, and left a note for Andrew Johnson. The idea was for the police to see the note, and think that Mr. Johnson was part of the conspiracy. This was foiled when Mr. Johnson’s secretary stopped by Kirkwood house, and picked up the Vice President’s mail and messages.

Ford’s Theater was prepared for the visit by the President. A barrier was taken out from between two boxes. Flags were hung around the building. At 9:00 pm, the President’s bodyguard, a Washington policeman named John F. Parker, got bored with the play. Mr. Parker went to Taltavul’s saloon, along with with Francis Burns, the president’s driver and Forbes, the valet. They were in the saloon during the action at the theater.

John Wilkes Booth was an experienced actor, and he knew how to follow a cue. At 10:15 pm, the player onstage said “Wal I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologizing old mantrap”. Booth placed a derringer between Mr. Lincoln’s left ear and spine, and pulled the trigger. He said “Sic Semper Tyrannis”, and cut Major Henry Rathbone. Booth leaned over the edge of the theater box, and lowered himself to the stage. The spur of his right foot catches on the Treasury regiment flag. This causes him to land on his left leg at an odd angle. The leg broke.

While this is going on, Lewis Paine and David Herrold went to visit Secretary of State William Seward. He is laying in bed, covered in bandages, recovering from the carriage accident. The bandages get in the way of the knife that cuts him, and save his life.

The wounds to Mr. Lincoln are considered mortal. The President was moved to Peterson’s boarding house nearby. At 7:22 am on April 15, he died. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who served as acting President during the night, said “Now he belongs to the ages.”










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