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The Abraham Lincoln Assassination
Transcript of The Abraham Lincoln Assassination
Theatre In Washington D.C. There were eight conspirators involved in the assassination. Their names were Lewis Powell (Paine), David Herold, George Atzerodt, Mary Surratt, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlen, and John Wilkes Booth. They were all for reviving the Confederate cause. John Wilkes Booth was the "leader" of these conspirators. He was a well known stage-actor whom was living at the National Hotel at the time. The day of the assassination, Booth found out at noon that Abraham Lincoln was definitely attending Fords Theatre. Since then he had to race back and forth in Washington, alerting his cohorts, arranging for horses, and attempting to secure for escape routes. He also had to set things up for himself at the Theatre. At 8:00p.m. Booth gathered his group of conspirators together at the Herndon House, a block away from the Fords Theatre, to lay out his plan. He assigned Lewis Powell to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward at his home, and George Atzerodt to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson at his residence, the Kirkwood Hotel. Booth's plan was to kill Lincoln with a single-shot derringer and then proceed to stab Grant with a knife at the Theatre. They were all to strike simultaneously shortly after 10:00p.m. Azterodt wanted nothing to do with this due to the fact that the original plan was for a kidnapping, not a killing. Although, Booth forced him to go forth with the plan because he was too far in to back out. General grant ended up declining the invitation to see the play because Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Grant were not on good terms. Instead, Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris joined them. The Lincolns arrived late and settled into the presidential box. (seen below) Booth knew the play by heart, although he never starred in it. He planned to shoot Lincoln during Act 3 scene 2 which is considered to be the funniest line of the play. He hoped that the enthusiastic response from the audience would muffle the sound of the gunshot.With the hysterical laughter that followed, Booth opened the door, crept forward and shot the President in the back of the head. Lincoln immediately fell over in his rocking chair, terribly wounded. Mary reached and caught him, then screamed when she realized what happened. When Rathbone heard the gunshot he jumped up and tried to stop Booth, but then Booth stabbed his arm with a knife that cut down to the bone. Rathbone recovered quickly and again tried to grab Booth as he was preparing to jump from the box. Booth swung at Rathbone again and then vaulted over the rail of the box down to the stage below (about a twelve-foot drop). In the process, his riding spur became entangled on a flag decorating the box, and he landed awkwardly on his left foot, fracturing his left leg just above the ankle. He raised himself up despite the injury and began crossing the stage, making the audience believe that he was part of the play. Booth held his bloody knife over his head, and yelled "Sic semper tyrannis!" meaning "The South is avenged!" in Latin. When Mary Lincoln and Clara Harris begin to scream and Rathbone screams "Stop that man!" the crowd begins to realize that this was not a part of the play and pandemonium begun to break out. Booth escaped out of the side door before anyone could catch him and rode off on a horse that had been waiting for him outside. Although while this was happening, much bigger things were taking place. Charles Leale, a young Army surgeon attending the play, made his way through the crowd to the door at the rear of the Presidential box when he saw Booth finish his performance with blood on his knife. When he pushed through the door he saw Rathbone bleeding intensively from the deep gashes in his upper chest and arm. Albeit, he passed Rathbone by and stepped to Lincoln who was held up my Mary. He was paralyzed and barely breathing. A second doctor named Charles Sabin Taft then entered the box whom lifted Lincolns body off the railing and into the box. They then proceeded to cut open his blood stained collar and feel around his head with their bare hands. Leale discovered that the bullet hole was in the back of his head next to his right ear. After further examination he announced that "His wound is mortal. It is impossible for him to recover." Abraham Lincoln was committed to preserving Union no matter what the consequences were to himself. He understood that the process of ending slavery took patience, and careful timing. With this he indeed ended slavery. African Americans called him "Father Lincoln", a near mythical hero, and a "Masterpiece of God" sent to save the Union. Lincoln left behind his legacy and the United States as a free country. Mrs. Lincoln whispered to her husband, who was holding her hand, "What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you so?" The president replied, "She won't think anything about it". Those were the last words ever spoken by Abraham Lincoln. It was now about 10:20 pm. The box was supposed to be guarded by a policeman named John Frederick Parker who for an unknown reason, was not at his post when Booth entered the box. Dr. Charles Brainerd Todd wrote in an eyewitness account that "About 10:25 pm, a man came in and walked slowly along the side on which the "Pres" box was and I heard a man say, "There's Booth" and I turned my head to look at him. He was still walking very slow and was near the box door when he stopped, took a card from his pocket, wrote something on it, and gave it to the usher who took it to the box. In a minute the door was opened and he walked in." Todd reported that as news of the assassination spread to the street, "Soldiers, sailors, police, all started in every direction but the assassin had gone. Some General handed me a note and bid me go to the nearest Telegraph office and arouse the nation. I ran with all my speed, and in ten minutes the sad news was all over the country." After briefly considering moving Lincoln to Peter Taltavull's Star Saloon next door, they chose to carry Lincoln across the street and find a house. Across the street, a man was holding a lantern and calling "Bring him in here! Bring him in here!" His name was Henry Safford who was boarder at William Petersen's boarding house which is opposite Ford's. He had been startled by the commotion across the street. The men carried Lincoln into the boarding house and into the first-floor bedroom, where they laid him on the bed. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton came and took complete charge of the scene. Mary Lincoln was so distrought by what she had witnessed that Stanton ordered her out of the room by shouting, "Take that woman out of here and do not let her in here again!" Lincoln died soon after from the bullet wound to his brain at 7:22am. After the assassination occured the government arrested several hundred people. Almost all were released due to the lack of evidence. However, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Mary Surratt, Dr. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlen, and Edman "Ned" Spangler were charged for conspiracy. Also, Booth escaped from Washington, and was on the run for 12 days. David E. Herold and him, a co-conspirator, were sleeping in a tobacco barn. Then on April 16 the Union calvary finally finally caught up with them. At 2:00 am the soldiers surrounded the barn which was located 60 miles south of Fords Theatre. Herold surrendered but Booth refused to leave the barn, so it was set in flames. Booth was then shot. George Atzerodt, Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, and David Herold were sentenced to death by hanging. Dr. Samuel Mudd was sentenced to life in prison as well as Michael O'Laughlen and Samuel Arnold. Edmund Spangler was pardoned by Andrew Johnson.