10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About President Lincoln’s Assassination

 


 

Just about everyone knows that John Wilkes Booth shot the president at Ford’s Theatre during a play and then broke his leg jumping down onto the stage and escaped but was later cornered and killed.

But here’s ten things I’ll bet you didn’t know … (I also didn’t know a few of these until now):

  1. President Lincoln and his wife had seen Booth in a play at Ford’s Theatre in 1863
  2. Booth was leader of a sizable conspiracy (7 men) to kidnap President Lincoln 3 weeks prior to the assassination that failed when Lincoln changed plans 
  3. This kidnapping plot had been planned since mid-1864 and while it sounds crazy it was intended to offer Lincoln’s return in exchange for Confederate prisoners, after General Grant had stopped doing prisoner exchanges that year as a way to pressure the Confederate side since they were more manpower-constrained
  4. After the Confederates surrendered on April 9, 1865, Booth changed the plot to assassinate Lincoln and Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward on the same night to throw the entire Union government into chaos
  5. The attack on Vice President Johnson never materialized when the man who was supposed to kill him chickened out
  6. The attack on Secretary Seward did occur but also failed since he was only wounded 
  7. Booth encountered no resistance since the president’s bodyguard had abandoned his post… in other words the president of the United States, widely hated by the side that just surrendered after a bloody and divisive 4 year war, was out in public completely unprotected
  8. Booth broke his leg because he landed his entire body weight on his left foot after the boot spurs on his right leg got caught in the flag attached to the presidents box above the stage
  9. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was invited to attend but backed out because Grant’s wife had “recently been the victim of Mary Todd Lincoln’s acid tongue and wanted no part of a night on the town with the first lady”
  10. The other 3 people in the president’s box were killed or committed to insane asylums over the next 20 years — Mary Todd Lincoln and Major Rathbone both committed, and Clara Harris killed by Rathbone, her husband
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