The Assassination of President Lincoln On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’sTheater in Washington D.C.Days after the Union had won the Civil War they had lostthe leader who had overseen their success. As a war-torn nation mourned, they huntedfor his assassin. John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor, had sided with the South during the Civil War,and wanted to help the Confederacy. His original plan was to kidnap Lincoln and holdhim ransom for Confederate prisoners of war. As commander of all Union forces,General Ulysses S. Grant had not allowed prisoners to be exchanged during the war.Booth wanted to take Lincoln to the South and exchange him for thousands of Southernprisoners. He gathered a group of men willing to help him, and they planned theirkidnapping. According to their plan, they were going to kidnap Lincoln when he went tosee the playStill Waters Run Deepat the Campbell Military Hospital. On March 17,1865, Booth and his men waited at a nearby restaurant for Lincoln. However, whenLincoln did not go to see the play, Booth was forced to change his plans.
On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Grant at AppomattoxCourthouse. However, Booth believed the war was not over because ConfederateGeneral Johnston's army was still fighting William Tecumseh Sherman and the UnionArmy. Although other Confederate forces remained in the field, the war was effectivelyover. As prisoners of war were released, there was no longer a need to kidnap thePresident. On April 11, Booth went to the White House to see Lincoln speak. In hisspeech the president declared that he wanted blacks to be able to vote, particularlyblacks who fought for the Union. Booth did not believe that blacks should have the rightto vote, and was outraged at Lincoln. He decided to kill the President.