Lincoln's Assassination


Imagine you are a newspaper reporter.


Your job is to write a newspaper article about President Abraham Lincoln's assassination.


Use the information below to write the article. Be sure you include everything a newspaper article should tell -- who, what, when, where, why, and how.


(Be sure to write a headline for your article.)



John Wilkes Booth was a successful actor, from Maryland, who believed strongly that slavery should be legal.    He hated President Lincoln and wanted to help the South.

On April 14, 1865 Booth stopped by Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, D.C., to pick up his A modern photograph of the booth at Ford's Theatremail.   While he was there, he heard that President Lincoln was planning to attend the play that evening, a comedy called Our American Cousin.    Booth contacted his fellow conspirators.   They planned to throw the North into confusion -- they would kill President Lincoln, Vice-president Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward at about the same time that evening.   They hoped the North would panic, as the President and the 2 men who were next in line for the presidency were killed.  They also planned to kill Gen. Grant, the head of the Union Army.


At Ford's Theatre, Lincoln sat in the Presidential Box.    Since Booth was an actor, he could go anywhere in the theater without being questioned.    Around 10PM one of the actors in the play said something that made everyone in the theater laugh, Booth stepped up behind President Lincoln and shot him in the head. 

John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in the back of the head near the left ear with this single-shot derringer. It was manufactured by Henry Deringer of Philadelphia and so marked. It is about 6 inches long with a 2 1/2 inch barrel. Its weight is only eight ounces. It fired a large ball that was .44 caliber. The trigger and mountings were made of German silver, and there was a small box in the butt of the gun for an extra percussion cap. The derringer was found on the floor of the State Box at Ford's Theatre by William T. Kent after the assassination. Today it's in the museum in the basement of Ford's Theatre.

The Peterson House, where Lincoln was taken after he was shot.

After being shot by Booth, President Lincoln was laid on a door, and carried out of Ford’s Theater and across the street to a boarding house now called the Peterson House [shown right]. Lincoln never regained consciousness, and died at 7:22 on the morning of April 15, 1865. Ironically, Lincoln died in the same bed that John Wilkes Booth had slept in less than a month before.

 Booth jumps from the Presidential Box to the stage, breaking his leg.

Almost immediately, Booth’s escape plans began to go wrong.   He jumped from the president’s box to the stage (almost 11 feet), and broke his leg but kept going.   Some people believe he shouted, “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” (Latin for "Thus Always to Tyrants" - the Virginia state motto - Meaning tyrants, who rule illegally, will always be killed).   Other people thought he said, "The South is avenged [got their revenge]"    He managed to get out of Washington, and went to the house of Dr. Samuel Mudd [shown below] to get help for his leg.


While he was hiding out, Booth was upset that he was not being praised as a hero.  Instead the newspapers  were treating him like a common criminal.   The authorities caught up with him and trapped him in a tobacco barn in Maryland on April 26.   They surrounded the barn, but Booth refused to come out, even after it was set on fire.    Although the soldiers had been told to capture Booth alive, Sergeant Thomas Corbett shot and killed him.

 [the map shows Booth's escape route]


The people who had helped Booth with his plans to kill the president, vice president, and secretary of state were caught and put on trial.   Four were hanged, and three were sentenced to life in prison.   One of those was Dr. Mudd, who many people believe did not know what  Booth had done and was not part of the plot, and he was pardoned by President Johnson 4 years later.