National Treasure: Book of Secrets - FORD'S THEATRE

This image depicts a restored slide illustrating an artistic impression of John Wilkes Booth who is about to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Booth is holding a Deringer and a knife. After shooting the President, Booth used the knife to harm Major Rathborne (who was Lincoln’s guest at the play). Booth dropped his pistol during his escape from Ford’s Theatre. Although the engraver of this image is unattributed, it is based on a mechanical glass slide by T. M. McAllister of New York, c1865-75. Online via Wikimedia Commons.


Four days before attending the play, the President spent time with his young son, Tad. General Lee had just surrendered at the Wilmer McLean home (in the Virginia village of Appomattox Court House), so the war was essentially over

The city of Washington was in a celebratory mood, and Lincoln looked relaxed.  He’d even managed a smile for the photographer.

Although the performance was already underway when the presidential party arrived, the band played “Hail to the Chief” as Lincoln entered Ford’s Theatre.  Settling into a red rocking chair—now owned by the Henry Ford Museum—he must have appreciated the warm welcome he’d just received.

Around 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth entered the President’s box, his single-shot, muzzle-loading Deringer pistol at the ready.  As an actor who had performed on Ford’s stage,  Booth knew the place well. This time, however, he came to play a different role.

Lincoln was unprotected. Accounts differ on the location of his bodyguard. 

Had one been with him, it may not have mattered since Charles Forbes,  the president’s valet (apparently seated just outside the door) had admitted at least two people into the presidential box. One of those people was Booth. (See Manhunt,  by James L. Swanson, pages 38-39.)

Undeterred, and with his weapon undetected, Booth had easy access to Abraham Lincoln. The assassin aimed his pistol and fired one point-blank shot at Lincoln’s head.

Entering through his left ear, the .44-caliber lead ball lodged behind the president’s right eye.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2007

Updated Last Revision: Jul 19, 2019

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"FORD'S THEATRE" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2007. Jan 25, 2020.
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