The Lincoln Assassination Archive

Satan Tempting Booth to the Murder 
        of the President. At 7 P.M. on April 14, 1865, a young actor staying at the National Hotel in Washington, D.C., approached the desk clerk and asked if he was going to attend that evening's performance of the popular comedy Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre. "There will be some fine acting tonight," John Wilkes Booth said. Two and a half hours later Booth made his appearance at the theater, entered the momentarily unguarded box in which Abraham Lincoln was seated, leveled a six-inch brass derringer at the back of the president's head, and pulled the trigger. At the same time as Booth fired the shot, his accomplices tried to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward. The attempt on Seward's life was unsuccessful, but Lincoln died at 7:22 the following morning. After firing the fatal shot, Booth managed to escape but broke his leg as he leapt from the box onto the theater stage. Booth was finally trapped in a Virginia barn on April 26th and killed. His co-conspirators were captured, tried, and either executed or imprisoned. P. T. Barnum, an admirer and supporter of Lincoln, nevertheless exploited the sensation surrounding the assassination--and was widely criticized for keeping the American Museum open when the train bearing the president's body passed through the city.

There are 7 matching records. Displaying matches 1 through 7 .


“Satan Tempting Booth to the Murder of the President,” 1865
This lithograph commemorated the death of President Abraham Lincoln by depicting the villainy of his assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth. Standing outside the door to the President’s box at Ford’s Theatre, an elaborately ugly Satan hovers at Booth’s shoulder, while Booth holds the pistol that he fired into the President’s head. The peacock feather between the devil’s horns possibly represents vanity or arrogance.
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


The Theatres, &c. - New York Times, April 21, 1865
President Abraham Lincoln died from assassin John Wilkes Booth’s bullet on April 15, 1865, and the nation plunged into mourning. After lying in state in Washington, D.C., Lincoln’s body was transported by a funeral train back to Illinois, where he was buried. The two-week journey traced in reverse the route that President-elect Lincoln had taken in 1861 as he traveled to his Inauguration. Cities and towns along the funeral train’s route held their own memorial parades and mourning rites to honor the slain president. The funeral train passed through New York City on April 23, 1865. While P. T. Barnum was a staunch Republican and supporter of President Lincoln, that did not stop him from opening his Lecture Room in the days after Lincoln’s death. This item from the New York Times criticizes Barnum for opening his theatre when all other theatres were shuttered; it also suggests the ways that the theatrical profession felt particular urgency to demonstrate its grief and patriotism since the assassination was carried out by an actor during a theatrical performance.
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Text.


Library of Congress - The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln
The online collection of Abraham Lincoln's Papers on the Library of Congress's American Memory website includes a summary of the assassination events, an interactive timeline, and a gallery of archival images.
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Website.


The Trial of the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators
Douglas Linder.
Part of University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law professor Douglas O. Linder's Famous Trials website, this is a detailed discussion and rich source of documentation about the Lincoln assassination and ensuing military trial.
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Website.


Memorial Playbill, Ford’s Theatre
Premiering in New York City in 1858, Our American Cousin was a popular comedy about the introduction of an awkward, boorish American to his aristocratic English relatives. But on the night of April 14, 1865, the play became famous for a dreadful reason: it was the performance in progress at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., when John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. This memorial to the slain President reproduces the play’s program.
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


Wanted, 1865
“Let the stain of innocent blood be removed from the land,” called this poster, which was issued by the War Department on April 20, 1865, five days after the death of President Lincoln. The poster offered large rewards for the capture of John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices, John H. Surratt and David C. Herald, and warned that anyone who aided these men would be treated as accomplices and subject to the death penalty. Booth died resisting capture in Virginia on April 26th; four conspirators—including Herald and John Surratt’s mother, Mary—were later tried, sentenced to death, and executed (making Mary Surratt the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government).
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.


Lewis Payne, 1865
On the night of April 14, 1865, at the very moment when John Wilkes Booth stepped into the President’s box at Ford’s Theatre and fired a deadly shot at President Abraham Lincoln, Lewis Payne entered the bed chamber of Secretary of State William H. Seward and began to attack him with a large knife. Seward was wearing a neck brace that blunted the blows and saved his life. Payne, also known as Lewis Powell, was an Alabama native and Confederate veteran. He, Booth, and others also planned to murder Vice President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses S. Grant that night, in hopes of crippling the federal government, but those attempts never took place. Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner took this photograph of Payne as he was held in federal custody; he was executed for his crime on July 7, 1865.
Exhibit: Lincoln Assassination.
Museum Room: Waxworks Room.
Document Type: Image.