Online Exhibit

Lincoln's Assassination

On April 14, 1865, Lincoln's melancholy was finally lifting. The Civil War was over, he had just begun a second term in office, and he was optimistic about the country's future. According to an account written by Francis Carpenter, a portrait painter who had spent a few months at the White House, Lincoln was in a wonderful mood on the day he was shot. During an afternoon carriage ride,  Mrs. Lincoln remarked on his "great cheerfulness," to which Lincoln replied, "And well may I feel so, Mary, I consider this day, the war has come to a close. We must both, be more cheerful in the future - between the war and the loss of our darling Willie - we have both been very miserable."


That evening Lincoln and his wife went to view the final performance of the comedy, "Our American Cousin," at Ford's Theatre. Lincoln often refused to be escorted by security guards whenever he went to the theatre or to church, and there was no security detail with him that evening. The one guard who accompanied him, John Parker, left his post outside the door of the Presidential Box in order to get a better view of the play. During a particularly uproarious moment in the performance, John Wilkes Booth casually entered the box, walked up to Lincoln's chair, and shot the President in the back of the head with his pistol.


The clothes that Abraham Lincoln was wearing the day he was shot, ca. 1933-1937




Ford's Theater, ca. 1910-1920

Fascimile of playbill from the night that LIncoln was shot at Ford's Theater, 1865