Assassination of Abraham Lincoln facts for kids

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A painting of the assassination. From left to right are: Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln, and John Wilkes Booth.

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was one of the last events in the American Civil War, and happened on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. President Lincoln was shot while watching the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.. He died early the next morning.

Lincoln's killer, John Wilkes Booth, was an actor and Confederate supporter who had plotted with other men to kill the Secretary of State, William H. Seward and the Vice President Andrew Johnson. Booth hoped to create disorder and overthrow the Northern government by doing this. Booth was able to kill Lincoln, but Seward and Johnson survived. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.


On April 14, Lincoln went to attend a play with his wife at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C..

During the third act of the play, following a line in the play that was the biggest laugh of the night, Lincoln was laughing at this line when he was shot. John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland, entered the presidential box and fired a pistol at point-blank range into the back of Lincoln's head, mortally wounding him. Lincoln immediately lost consciousness, but he passed into unconsciousness with laughter and a smile on his face. Katherine M. Evans, a young actress in the play, who was offstage when Lincoln was shot but rushed onstage after Booth's exit stated "I looked and saw President Lincoln unconscious, his head dropping on his breast,his eyes closed, but with a smile still on his face". Lincoln was carried across the street to Petersen House. He was placed diagonally on the bed because his tall frame would not fit normally on the smaller bed. He remained in a coma for nine hours. He died the next morning. According to some accounts, at his last drawn breath, on the morning after the assassination, he smiled broadly and then expired.

Booth escaped, but died from shots fired during his capture on April 26.

Lincoln's dreams

It is believed that Lincoln knew he might be assassinated.

It is reported by different sources that Lincoln had dreams about being assassinated several nights before he was shot by Booth. Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's friend and biographer, wrote that Lincoln had talked to him about one of these dreams three days before he died.

On the day of his assassination, Lincoln had told his bodyguard, William H. Crook, that he had been having dreams of being assassinated for three straight nights. Cook advised Lincoln not to go that night to Ford's theater. Lincoln said he had promised his wife they would go.

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