- Booth and Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life
Booth and Lincoln
A Maryland native, Booth was born into one of the country’s leading families of actors. He was well known at Ford’s Theatre. On the night of April 14, he was welcomed as he passed up the stairs to the president’s box.
From Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 29, 1865. Courtesy of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
At about 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box, pointed a derringer pistol at the back of the president’s head and fired. Booth then pulled out a knife, slashed Rathbone, and jumped onto the stage, declaring “Sic semper tyrannis”—“Thus always to tyrants,” the Virginia state motto. Despite breaking his leg as he hit the stage, Booth escaped backstage and onto a waiting horse.
"The shouts, groans, curses, smashing of seats, screams of women, shuffling of feet and cries of terror created a pandemonium that . . . through all the ages will stand out in my memory as the hell of hells."
—Helen Truman, a member of the audience
Bequest of Virginia Adler Thompson, niece of Laura Keene, 1962
Laura Keene’s Bloodstained Cuff
Gift of the Medical Society of the County of Kings, 1983
Death of Lincoln, painted and engraved by A. H. Ritchie, about 1875. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.