Saturday, April 14, 2018



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot as he was attending a play at Ford's Theater on Tenth Street here in the Nation's Capital.

At 10:15 p.m., a single pistol shot was fired inside the presidential box as Mr. Lincoln was sitting in a rocking chair along side his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln
The bullet, fired from a Deringer pistol at close range, entered the back of the President's head.

The assassin, later identified as the well-known actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth grappled with one of Lincoln's theater guests, Major Henry Rathbone, then leaped to the stage below.  Booth then fled out the back of the theater and escaped on horseback.

One of the eyewitnesses in the theater at the time of the shooting described it as follows..."...a pistol was fired and...Lincoln (was) shot...a second (later) a man vaulted over the ballister of the box saying Sic Semper Tyrannis and adding revenge for the South, ran across the stage with a knife in his right hand."

Booth had blocked the entrance to the box but after some delay assistance was rendered to the President.    Dr. Charles Leale located the wound in the back of Lincoln's head.  He immediately determined this wound to be mortal.  Fearing the President would die before he could be returned to the White House, Dr. Leale directed soldiers to carry Lincoln to the nearest bed.

Mr. William Petersen, who owned a boardinghouse opposite Ford's on 10th Street, offered use of one of his rooms on the 1st floor.  Mrs. Mary Lincoln, in a frantic state, followed her husband into the boarding house.

The President was laid diagonally across the single bed in the room because it was too short for his 6'4" frame.   Dr. Leale was assisted by Dr. Charles Sabin Taft and Dr. Albert F. King who both were in the theater at the time of the shooting.

Abraham Lincoln lingered throughout the night, but died at 7:22 on the morning of April 15, 1865.  He was the first President of the United States to die as the result of assassination.  


"The Assassination: Death of the President," by Champ Clark, Time-Life Books, Alexandria, VA, 1987.

"We Saw Lincoln Shot:  One Hundred Eyewitness Accounts," edited by Timothy S. Good, University Press of Mississippi, Jackson, MS, 1995.

Booth's Deringer
Ford's Theater
Photo by John White (2016)

The Presidential Box
Ford's Theater
Photo by John White (2016)

John Wilkes Booth
Ford's Theater
Photo by John White (2016)