Today in History: Abraham Lincoln is shot

Abraham Lincoln was born on 12 February 1809 on Sinking Spring Farm, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, and would go on to serve as the 16th president of the United States of America.

Lincoln’s aim of achieving a slavery-free country did not go down well with the southern Confederate States. This led to the outbreak of the American Civil War, with the Union States from the North taking on the Confederate States from the South.

Lincoln played an integral role in the defeat and dismemberment of the Confederacy. His fight against slavery angered a lot of Confederate sympathisers, one of whom was John Wilkes Booth.

Abraham Lincoln. Image: Business Insider.

Booth had originally plotted to kidnap Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. This idea failed however, as on the day of the planned kidnapping, Lincoln did not appear at the site where Booth and six other conspirators were waiting.

Booth’s second attempt at overthrowing the Union forces was then planned for April 14, when Lincoln was set to attend a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater.

The plan included simultaneous assassinations of Lincoln, Vice-president Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State, William Seward.

Booth had hoped that this would throw the US government into disarray.

A painting of what the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is presumed to have looked like. Image: History.com.

However, on the evening of 14 April, only two of the planned attacks took place, and only one target (Lincoln) was killed.

Lewis Powell attacked the Secretary of State in his home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George Atzerodt lost his nerve and failed to even attack Vice-president Johnson.

Booth, however, carried out his assassination perfectly as he sneaked into Lincoln’s theatre box shortly after 10pm, shooting him once in the head, and slashing at an army officer who charged at him.

He got away by jumping onto the stage from the box, breaking his leg in the process. He fled Washington on horseback, only to be cornered less than two weeks later, when the barn in which he was hiding was burned down. It is presumed that Booth shot himself during the fire.

Lincoln died from his injuries at about 7.22am the next morning, at the age of 56, thus becoming the first US president to be assassinated.

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  AUTHOR
Blake Linder
Journalist

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