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Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States of America. He started his presidential term during the start of the Civil War. A guy of the name of John Wilkes Booth was born May 10, 1838, he was an actor who performed throughout the country in many plays. He was the lead in some of William Shakespeare's most famous works. Additionally, he was a racist and Southern sympathizer during the Civil War. He hated Abraham Lincoln who represented everything Booth was against. Booth blamed Lincoln for all the South's ills. He wanted revenge. In late summer of 1864 Booth began developing plans to kidnap Lincoln, take him to Richmond, and hold him in return for Confederate prisoners of war. By January, 1865, Booth had organized a group of co-conspirators that included Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlen, John Surratt, Lewis Powell (also called Lewis Paine or Payne), George Atzerodt, and David Herold. Additionally, Booth met with Dr. Samuel Mudd both in Maryland (where Mudd lived) and Washington, and he began using Mary Surratt's boardinghouse to meet with his co-conspirators. On March 17, 1865, the group planned to capture Lincoln who was scheduled to attend a play at a hospital located on the outskirts of Washington. However, the President changed plans and remained in the capital. Thus, Booth's plot to kidnap Lincoln failed. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Two days later Lincoln spoke from the White House to a crowd gathered outside. Booth was present as Lincoln suggested in his speech that voting rights be granted to certain blacks. Infuriated, Booth's plans now turned in the direction of assassination. On the morning of Friday, April 14, Booth dropped by Ford's Theatre and learned that the President and General Grant were planning to attend the evening performance of Our American Cousin. He held one final meeting with his co-conspirators. He said he would kill Lincoln at the theater. Atzerodt was to kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson at the Kirkwood House where Johnson resided. Powell was assigned to kill Secretary of State William Seward. Herold would accompany Powell. All attacks were to take place simultaneously at approximately 10:15 P.M. that night. Booth hoped the resulting chaos and weakness in the government would lead to a comeback for the South.

About eight-thirty, the President and Mrs. Lincoln, accompanied by Major Henry Rathbone and his date, Clara Harris, arrived in a carriage at Ford's Theatre on Tenth Street. As the presidential party entered the theatre, the play was stopped and the band struck up "Hail to the Chief." The audience stood to give the President a rousing standing ovation. The presidential party took their seats in a specially-prepared box on the left side of the stage. During the second scene of the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth, climbed the stairs to the mezzanine. He showed a card to Lincoln's valet-footman and was allowed entry through a lobby door leading to the presidential box. Reaching the box, Booth pushed open the door. The President sat in his armchair, one hand on the railing and the other holding to the side a flag that decorated the box, in order to gain a better view of a person in the orchestra. From a distance of about four feet behind Lincoln, Booth fired a bullet into the President's brain as he shouted "Revenge for the South!" (according to one witness) or "Freedom!" (according to another). Major Rathbone sprang up to grab the assassin, but Booth wrested himself away after slashing the general with a large knife. Booth rushed to the front of the box as Rathbone reached for him again, catching some of his clothes as Booth leapt over the railing. Rathbone's grab was enough to cause Booth to fall roughly on the stage below, where he fractured the fibula in his left leg. Rising from the stage, Booth shouted "Sic semper tyrannus!" (which is latin for "As always to tyrant") and ran across the stage and toward the back of the theatre. Booth rushed out the back door of the theatre to a horse being held for him by Joseph Burroughs. Booth mounted the horse and swept rapidly down an alley, then to the left toward F Street and disappeared into the Washington darkness. Meanwhile back up at the presidential box there have been cries that the president has been murdered. "I instantly arose, and in response to cries for help and a surgeon I crossed the aisle and vaulted over the seats in a direct line to the president's box forcing my way through the excited crowd. The door of the box had been securely fastened on the inside. The obstruction was removed with difficulty and I was the first to be admitted to the box. Major Rathbone had bravely fought the assassin. His arm had been severely wounded and was bleeding. While approaching the President, I asked a gentlemen to procure

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