John Wilkes Booth

Assassin / Actor

Born: 10 May 1838
Died: 26 April 1865 (shot to death)
Birthplace: Bel Air, Maryland
Best known as:

The man who shot Abraham Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln on 14 April 1865. During a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., Booth snuck into the presidential box and shot Lincoln behind the left ear. Booth leapt down to the stage (breaking the fibula bone in his left leg as he landed) and shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" (In Latin, "Thus ever to tyrants.") He escaped with an accomplice and eluded pursuers for 12 days before being cornered in a tobacco shed in Virginia. The shed was set on fire, and in the ensuing confusion, John Wilkes Booth was shot by a Union soldier, Sgt. Boston Corbett. Booth was dragged from the shed alive, but died a few hours later.

Extra credit:

John Wilkes Booth was part of a conspiracy; while he shot Lincoln, others were supposed to attack vice-president Andrew Johnson and Secretary of War William Seward. Seward was stabbed but survived; Johnson was never attacked, and became president upon Lincoln's death. Four of Booth's co-conspirators were hung on 7 July 1865... Booth was a well-known actor and had appeared on the Ford's Theater stage many times; Lincoln had actually seen him there in an 1863 performance of The Marble Heart... Booth's father, Junius Brutus Booth, Sr., was an even more famous actor... Booth shot Lincoln five days after the Civil War ended with the surrender of Confederate general Robert E. Lee to the Union's Ulysses Grant at Appomatox on 9 April 1865.

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