Lincoln is assassinated

On the evening of April 14, 1865, Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882), attended a performance of a comedy called Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. The president and his wife were joined in their private balcony box by a young Union officer and his fiancée. Shortly after ten o'clock, an actor named John Wilkes Booth slipped into the rear of Lincoln's balcony with a pistol. He shot the president in the back of the head, then leaped from the balcony down to the stage. He broke his leg in the fall, but still managed to escape the area on horseback. Stunned theater patrons rushed to Lincoln's side. They carried him from the theatre to a boarding house across the street, where the president died at 7:22 on the morning of April 15. Booth, meanwhile, remained uncaptured until April 26, when he was cornered in a barn in Virginia. In an attempt to force the fugitive out, soldiers set the barn ablaze. A defiant Booth refused to come out. He was found dead of a gunshot wound; it is unclear whether Booth shot himself or whether one of the soldiers shot him.

Major Anderson Returns to ^^ Fort Sumter

One event that powerfully symbolized the Union's victory over the Confederacy was a ceremony that took place at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, in April 1865. Four years earlier, Federal troops under the command of Major Robert Anderson (18051871) had been forced to lower the American flag and surrender the fort to Confederate attackers. That April 1861 assault on Fort Sumter had marked the beginning of the American Civil War.

By April 14, 1865, however, the Union had regained control of the battle-scarred walls of Fort Sumter. On that day, Union officials led by Anderson returned to the fortress to raise the same torn American flag that had waved above Charleston Harbor on the night of the Confederate attack. As thousands of soldiers, officials, and citizens looked on, Anderson raised the American flag over the fort once again. "I thank God that I have lived to see this day," An-

The U.S. flag is raised again at Fort Sumter, four years after the Confederate assault on the fort.

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

The U.S. flag is raised again at Fort Sumter, four years after the Confederate assault on the fort.

(Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

derson said, "and to be here, to perform this, perhaps the last act of my life, of duty to my country."

News of Lincoln's assassination shocked the North. The Union's triumph over the Confederacy in the Civil War had dramatically increased Lincoln's popularity in Northern communities. In addition, his steady leadership during the war had led many Union soldiers to develop a deep loyalty and devotion to their president. The loss of Lincoln at the hands of a raving assassin thus plummeted the nation into a dark mood of despair and anger.

The nation spent the next few weeks saying goodbye to the man who had successfully guided it through the worst years of crisis in its history. On April 19, thousands of mourners filed past Lincoln's body at the White House. These mourners ranged from ordinary citizens to General Grant, who broke down and wept at the sight of his slain president. One day later, Lincoln's body was placed on a train that took him to his hometown of

A painting shows John Wilkes Booth aiming at Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. Mary Todd Lincoln and another couple are seated next to the president. (Courtesy of the Library of Congress.)

Springfield, Illinois, for burial. Along the way, millions of Americans gathered along the train's route to view Lincoln's funeral car as it passed by.

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