As most students of American history know, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Some could name the assassin: John Wilkes Booth; or the place where the killing occurred: Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Fewer still are aware that a conspiracy was involved, that four others besides Booth, including one woman, were eventually tried and executed for their part. But did you know that originally the conspirators intended only to kidnap Lincoln, and to attempt to trade him for the release of Confederate prisoners in Richmond, Virginia? And would you believe that vampires were involved? (They weren’t.)
During the sesquicentennial (a fancy word for 150th anniversary) of the Lincoln assassination, it is a good time to revisit this pivotal moment in American history and learn again (or for the first time) what it was all about. President Abraham Lincoln, whose first election, in 1860, had been the straw that broke the Union, prompting secession by the states that would form the Confederacy, had been reelected in December 1864. The Thirteenth Amendment, banning slavery, had been passed by Congress in January and was on its way to ratification. Lincoln had just delivered his second inaugural address, on March 4, uttering perhaps the most eloquent speech in U.S. political history. In mid-March 1865, the Civil War was still raging, although the Union forces clearly held the upper hand.
What the assassination ultimately accomplished was hardly to put an end to this figure so hated by supporters of slavery like Booth. Quite the opposite resulted: Lincoln became a martyr for freedom, his life added, sacrificially, to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the war. What if the kidnappers had succeeded?
Image credit: © Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
- The Day Lincoln Was Supposed to Be Kidnapped
Read about the failed conspiracy to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln that was under way in the months before his assassination.
(Source: History News Network, March 15, 2015)
- Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination
This web page provides detail and background on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln; includes videos and links to topics related to Lincoln’s presidency.
(Source: HISTORY.com; accessed March 23, 2015)
- Civil War 150
Ford’s Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, is a clearinghouse of information about the assassination and the various events devoted to the commemoration of President Lincoln’s death 150 years ago.
(Source: Ford’s Theatre; accessed March 23, 2015)
- Remembering Lincoln’s Second Inauguration, 150 Years Later
This web page focuses on the historic significance of President Lincoln’s second inaugural address, in which he reflected on the tragic war that had rent the Union.
(Source: HISTORY.com, March 4, 2015)