150th Anniversary of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Apr 15, 2015 - by Denise Noe

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by acclaimed actor and embittered partisan of the defeated South, John Wilkes Booth.

The Civil War president was shot on April 14, 2015 and died from his head wound the next day without ever regaining consciousness. Booth's bullet entered the back of Lincoln's head and exited through his eye.

To mark the anniversary of this tragic historical event, the Associated Press republished its original account of the shooting and, as NBC News noted, “it was not in keeping with the news-writing conventions of today.”

The first mention of the shooting itself came in the second paragraph, after a description of what a crowd-pleaser the play was at Ford’s Theatre:  “President Lincoln and wife visited Ford’s Theatre this evening for the purpose of witnessing the performance of the American Cousin. It was announced in the papers that General Grant would also be present, but that gentleman took the late train of cars for New Jersey.”

Only after this innocuous information comes the following: “During the third act and while there was a temporary pause for one of the actors to enter, a sharp report of a pistol was heard, which merely attracted attention, but suggested nothing serious until a man rushed to the front of the President’s box, waving a long dagger in his right hand, exclaiming ‘Sic Semper tyrannis,’ and immediately leaped from the box, which was in the second tier, to the stage beneath, and ran across to the opposite side, made his escape amid the bewilderment of the audience from the rear of the theatre, and mounted a horse and fled. The groans of Mrs. Lincoln first disclosed the fact that the President had been shot.” Abraham Lincoln on his deathbed

This week, in Washington D.C., many people solemnly gathered before the old Ford’s Theater in recognition of the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.

Tourists, history buffs, and schoolchildren milled in front of the arches of the historic site, while volunteers in Union uniforms acted as guides and presented visitors with information.

Inside Ford’s Theater, a performance was presented -- not of the ‘American Cousin’ but of 'Now He Belongs To The Ages,' a play about the martyred president that includes excerpts from the wise man’s speeches.

People also gathered to memorialize the occasion across the street at the Petersen House because it was the place to which Lincoln, unconscious after being shot in the head, was first carried.

Visitors walked up the stairs of the Petersen House to the parlor where a shocked First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, once waited for word of her husband’s fate.

Those same visitors also saw the back bedroom of in which Abraham Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865.

Next door to the Petersen House, a temporary exhibit of artifacts was displayed that included the gun John Wilkes Booth used when he murdered Abraham Lincoln and the hat Lincoln wore on that fateful and fatal evening.

It also included a pocketknife the assassinated president habitually carried. A visitor who asked a guide why Lincoln carried the small blade was told, “so he could cut apple slices.”

A mundane detail lending the vibrancy of ordinary life to a extraordinary historical personage and his truly horrible demise.

DENISE NOE

 

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