Why Did John Wilkes Booth Kill Abraham Lincoln?

john-wilkes-boothJohn Wilkes Booth etched his name in U.S. history when he conducted the successful assassination of then U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was one of the most remarkable leaders of the country and it is very interesting to find out why John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln. Let us examine a few of the facts that led to the assassination of the sixteenth president of the United States of America.

Reasons for the Assassination of the U.S. President Abraham Lincoln

Why did John Wilkes Booth kill Abraham Lincoln?

John Wilkes Booth passionately resented the consistent efforts made by Lincoln to promote the rights of black people to vote. On the 11th of April in 1865, he attended a speech of the president that seriously backed the voting rights of black people. The speech went directly against the principles of the Confederates. After this, John Wilkes Booth carefully designed and organized a plan to assassinate the president.

Aside from being a popular actor during that time, Booth also worked as a spy for the Confederates. The initial plan was to kidnap the president. They would then use him in exchange for the release of captured Confederates. When he heard about the president’s call to grant blacks their voting rights, Booth decided to kill the president instead of kidnapping him.

A chance came when he learned about the president’s plan to watch the play, Our American Cousin. The show was performed at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. on April 14, 1865. The plan also included the assassinations of Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice-President Andrew Johnson. As Lincoln was busy enjoying the play, Booth waited for the moment when the president’s bodyguard was not around.

When this moment arrived, he then made his way to the special box where the president was seated. He timed the assassination perfectly. Once he was in position, he drew the 0.44 caliber Derringer that he had brought with him. He fired a single shot which hit the back of the president’s head. At some point after the assassination, he fought Major Henry Rathbone before he was able to escape. Before leaving the scene, he clamored the words ‘sic semper tyrannis’, which mean ‘thus always to tyrants’.

For 12 long days, Federal agents conducted a manhunt. When they finally caught up with Booth, they cornered him and then shot him to his death. Bullet fragments entered his skull and into his brain. He was in a state of coma until he died the following day, which was April 15th, 1865.

Some More Facts About the Lincoln Assassination

The following are some more noteworthy facts about the Lincoln assassination.

  • Abraham Lincoln was the first president in the U.S. history to be successfully assassinated.
  • John Wilkes Booth was an actor, son of famous British actor, Junius Brutus Booth.
  • Booth is believed to have said that he enjoyed playing the role of Brutus  whom he described as ‘the slayer of a tyrant’.
  • Abraham Lincoln is said to have had a nightmare about being assassinated, a few days before his death. He described seeing himself in a casket, with inconsolable people mourning around his dead body.
  • Ironically, Edwin Booth, the older brother of John Wilkes Booth, saved Lincoln’s son’s life when he fell between the platform and the train tracks.
  • There are some bizarre coincidences between the Lincoln and Kennedy assassination. For instance, both of them were shot with a single bullet, on the back of their heads. Both of them were killed on a Friday. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946, exactly 100 years after Lincoln (1846). Also, both their successors were named Johnson (Andrew Johnson and Lyndon Johnson).

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is one of the most tragic and significant losses in the American history. There are several conspiracy theories that surround this assassination and till date, the interest to know more information about what happened in 1865 is still pursued with fervor.

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