Sudden Death of a President | The Secret Service
Abraham Lincoln | John F. Kennedy | Andrew Jackson | James A. Garfield | Theodore Roosevelt | Franklin D. Roosevelt 
"Oh That Mournful Night" | The Assassins | The Long and Final Ride | Personal Mourning

Ford's Theatre playbill from the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated

On April 14, 1865, President and Mrs. Lincoln went to Ford's Theatre with Clara Harris and her fiancé, Henry Rathbone.

At 10:15, as the audience roared at the climactic line ("You sockdologizing old mantrap"), actor and Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln and severely wounded Rathbone with a knife. The attack was part of a plan to destroy influential members of the government.

Despite breaking a leg as he leaped onto the stage during his getaway, Booth mounted a waiting horse and escaped into southern Maryland. Lincoln, taken to a house across from the theater, died the next morning.

Ford's Theatre, site of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, is on 10th Street between E and F Streets in Washington, D.C. The theater was built in 1863.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

Ticket to the Ford's Theatre production of Our American Cousin, starring Laura Keene, for April 14, 1865, the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

This sleeve cuff purportedly bearing Abraham Lincoln's blood was worn by Laura Keene, the star of Our American Cousin. According to legend, Keene rushed to Lincoln's box to bring water to the wounded president. As she cradled Lincoln's head while he drank, her cuff became marked with a trace of his blood.

Newspaper illustration of the assassination of Lincoln. The public had an insatiable appetite for such visual representations.

Courtesy of Library of Congress

                 Home | Press | Site Map | Help | Credits
National Museum of American History