President Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, around 10 o’clock at night while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC.
The assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, entered the Lincolns’ box and shot the president in the back of the head before jumping over the railing and down onto the stage. A fanatic for the Confederate cause, Booth exclaimed “Sic semper tyrannis” (Thus always to tyrants), the Virginia state motto, before escaping the theater.
The comatose President Lincoln was taken to a bedroom of a boarding house across the street, where he was attended by various doctors and visited by his wife and his son, Robert, as well as by various friends and political acquaintances. Lincoln, who never regained consciousness, died nine hours after being shot, at 7:22 in the morning.
About the same time as Lincoln’s assassination, one of Booth’s co-conspirators made an attempt on Secretary of State William Seward‘s life. Though gravely wounded, Seward would survive. Vice President Andrew Johnson was also an intended target, but his would-be assassin lost his nerve and did not attack. The final target was allegedly Ulysses S. Grant, though no successful attempt was made on his life.
Learn more about the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.