- Historical event:
- 14 April 1865
- At the time he was killed, Lincoln was watching a theater play titled "Our American Cousin" with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln. The assassin Booth entered the presidential box at a precisely selected moment, when the show reached its high point
On this day one of the most famous assassinations in history took place. John Wilkes Booth shot U.S. President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on Good Friday in 1865.
On that evening, Lincoln was watching the play “Our American Cousin” with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln.
The assassin Booth was one of the most famous actors of that time. He came from an acting family – his parents were actors, as was his brother. Booth wanted to kill Lincoln allegedly because he opposed the freeing of slaves and giving African-Americans the right to vote.
He entered the theater without any problems, because he was a famous actor (sort of a celebrity at the time) and everyone thought that he wanted to greet the president.
Booth entered the presidential box at a precisely selected moment, when the show reached its high point and the main actor said the funniest line of the play (as an actor, Booth knew the course of the play by heart).
While the audience laughed hysterically, he shot President Lincoln in the back of the head, behind his left ear. Mortally wounding Lincoln, he escaped over the sill of the box and jumped down to the stage below from a height of about 3.6 meters.
On that occasion, Booth shouted “Sic semper tyrannis” (Latin: Thus always to tyrants), which was, according to legend, said by Brutus while he was murdering Caesar (and also the motto of the state of Virginia).
He escaped Washington on horseback. A pursuit was organized, and Booth was killed 12 days later on a farm in Virginia.