Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ford's Theatre

Ford's Theatre is a beautiful and historic place. They still put on plays today.

The museum underneath the theatre talks about the life of Abraham Lincoln, the plan to assassinate him, and some about the life of John Wilkes Booth.

The Union generals

There were actually 10 people in on the plot against Lincoln. Their original plan was to kidnap the president but Booth dropped his abduction plan in favor of assassination. The plot actually extended beyond Lincoln and included Vice President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William Seward, and General Grant.
John H. Surratt was 21-years-old and happened to be in Canada on a mission for Judah Benjamin (the Confederate Secretary of State) when Lincoln was assassinated. He was the only conspirator to escape unpunished.
John's mother Mary Surratt was also part of the plot. She ran a boarding house where Booth and the conspirators would meet. She also carried messages for Booth. She was hung for her part in the conspiracy, making her the first woman to be executed by the United States federal government.
Dr. Samuel Mudd introduced Booth to the Surratts. He is also the doctor that treated Booth's shattered ankle and gave him shelter. He escaped hanging by one vote.
Edman "Ned" Spangler was a stagehand at Ford's Theater and had known Booth for years. Booth asked him to watch his horse the night of the assassination. He received a 6 year prison sentence and was pardoned in 1869 by Andrew Johnson.
George Atzerodt was a 29-year-old from Germany. He ferried Confederate spies across the Potomac River during the war. With the original plan being to kidnap Lincoln, he was supposed to ferry them to Richmond. He was also assigned to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson. He went to the hotel but had no heart for murder so he got drunk instead. He was later executed for his part in the plot.
Lewis Powell (also known as Lewis Paine) was the 20-year-old son of a Baptist minister. He fought on the Confederate side during the war and was caught at the Battle of Gettysburg. He took an oath of allegiance to the Union in 1865. He was a border at Mary Surratt's house, which is were he met Booth. He was assigned to kill William Seward, the Secretary of State. He and David Herold arrived at the Secretary's home and were stopped by his son, Frederick. They shot him but the gun misfired so they clubbed him in the head. Powell then ran upstairs and stabbed Seward in the face and neck. The jaw splint Seward was wearing from a carriage accident 9 days earlier saved his life. Powell was hung.
David "Davey" Herold was a 23-year-old pharmacist's assistant. He also was very familiar with the Maryland countryside since he hunted frequently. These two things were why Booth picked him as part of the plot. He accompanied Lewis Powell to Secretary Seward's home. After they fled, Herold accompanied Booth on his 12 day flight through Maryland and Virgina. Herold was also hung for his part in the conspiracy.
Samuel Arnold was a former solider in the Confederate Army. Booth had no trouble recruiting him. Later Arnold had second thoughts and got a job near Norfolk. He was arrested there by detectives and later released and pardoned.
Michael O'Laughlin was a childhood friend of Booth's. Like Arnold he was nowhere near Ford's Theatre the night of assassination. He turned himself into authorities and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in Fort Jefferson of yellow fever in 1867.
John Wilkes Booth was 26 at the time of the assassination. He worked as an actor at Ford's Theatre and was a native to Maryland. His original plan was to kidnap Lincoln and hold him in exchange for the release of southern prisoners. His plan changed with Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He was shot in a shoot out with police in a tobacco house 12 days after the assignation when he refused to surrender himself.

This painting was done by a man who was sitting on his balcony and watched them bring Lincoln from the theatre to the Peterson House across the street.

A comparison of Lincoln's day and Booth's day on April 14, 1865


The theatre. Lincoln sat in a box on the right hand side.

Lincoln's box

Booth entered through the door on the right side, then opened the door to Lincoln's box and shot him at 10:15pm. It was a little eery standing exactly where he stood.

This is Booth's gun that he used to kill the president. It's hard to tell in the picture but it is a very small, single shot pistol. The Lincoln's had guests with them that night and Major Henry Rathbone tried to stop Booth's escape. Booth stabbed him, jumped down onto the stage, and yelled, "Sic semper tyrannis!" (the South is avenged) before escaping out the back of the theatre.

Daddy & me

posted by Sarah

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