Lincoln Assassination Summary

Lincoln assassination

Anyone who is at all familiar with the Civil War knows about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (above). So, rather than rehash everything you already know, we are going to try to give you some interesting information about the Lincoln assassination that you might not have heard or seen before. 

First, some basic facts about the Lincoln assassination. Abraham Lincoln was shot on the evening of April 14, 1865, (Good Friday) by John Wilkes Booth. Booth shot Lincoln while he was watching a play called Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C. The President did not die immediately, but he never regained consciousness and died the next morning.

Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd, attended the play with a young couple whose names were Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris. At one point during the play, Mrs. Lincoln asked her husband, “What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?” to which he replied, “She won’t think anything about it.” These are believed to be the last words of Abraham Lincoln.

Two other assassinations were supposed to occur simultaneously with the Lincoln assassination, but Booth's fellow conspirators failed to kill the other two targets, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. A massive manhunt began immediately, and on April 26, Booth was tracked down and shot on a farm in Virginia.

A witch-hunt for Booth's co-conspirators then ensued. Everyone who had any contact with Booth was put behind bars; including a man who happened to spend the night at the Tavern where Booth stopped for supplies after shooting the President.

Eventually, eight conspirators were arrested and made to stand trial before a military tribunal. One received six years in prison, three received life in prison, and four received death sentences. One of those condemned to death was Mary Surratt, the first woman ever executed by the US government.

Those sentenced to death were hanged at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary on July 7, 1865. Thus ended the saga of the Lincoln assassination.

Now, lets get on to the more interesting stuff...

Lincoln Assassination Facts and Miscellania... 

First, here are six Lincoln Assassination facts you may not have known:

  1. An unknown, would-be assassin shot at and almost killed Lincoln in August of 1864.
  2. Top Union spy, Lafayette Baker, claimed that certain top Union officials (including Vice President Andrew Johnson) were involved in the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln.
  3. Lincoln initially invited Ulysses S. Grant and his wife to join him at Ford's Theater, but they declined (some say it was because Grant's wife didn't like Lincoln's wife). Fourteen others turned down an invitation from Lincoln that day before the young couple of Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris finally accepted.
  4. Rathbone and Harris would later marry. Eventually, Rathbone went insane and killed his wife. When police arrived, they found him talking about people, "hiding behind the pictures on the wall."
  5. More than a year before the Lincoln assassination, a man saved Lincoln's son Robert's life, by pulling him back to the platform when he was falling under a moving train. That man was John Wilkes Booth's brother Edwin.
  6. Booth was shot and killed (against direct orders) by a mentally unstable man named Boston Corbett.

Next, here is an entertaining video from 1956 in which we get to hear from an eyewitness who was in Ford's Theater the night of the Lincoln assassination...

...and finally, did you know that Abraham Lincoln had a premonition of his own assassination? Well, so it seems. Read on to learn more...

A Dire Prophecy

Abraham Lincoln

Seemingly, Abraham Lincoln foretold his own demise...

Ward Hill Lamon was a friend of Lincoln's who later wrote a biography of the President. In that book, Lamon recounts a discussion he and several others had with Lincoln just three days before he was shot:

"I can't say that I do [believe in dreams]," returned Mr. Lincoln; "but I had one the other night which has haunted me ever since. After it occurred, the first time I opened the Bible, strange as it may appear, it was at the twenty-eighth chapter of Genesis, which relates the wonderful dream Jacob had. I turned to other passages, and seemed to encounter a dream or a vision wherever I looked. I kept on turning the leaves of the old book, and everywhere my eye fell upon passages recording matters strangely in keeping with my own thoughts - supernatural visitations, dreams, visions, etc." 

He now looked so serious and disturbed that Mrs. Lincoln exclaimed: "You frighten me! What is the matter?" 

...Mr. Lincoln hesitated, but at length commenced very deliberately, his brow overcast with a shade of melancholy. 

"About ten days ago," he said, "I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since."

Lamon also told of a phenomenon which Lincoln claimed to have experienced on a number of occasions. Lincoln said he saw a:

"...double image of himself in a looking-glass... There was Abraham Lincoln's face reflecting the full glow of health and hopeful life; and in the same mirror, at the same moment of time, was the face of Abraham Lincoln showing a ghostly paleness."

Lincoln first saw the double image shortly before he was inaugurated for his first term as President, and he saw it on more than one occasion. To Lincoln, this phenomenon had a powerful meaning:

"To his mind the illusion was a sign, - the life-like image betokening a safe passage through his first term as President; the ghostly one, that death would overtake him before the close of the second."

Did Lincoln foretell his own demise? You tell me...

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