On March 4th, President Abraham Lincoln delivers his second inaugural address to a crowd of 50,000 in front of the newly completed iron dome of the U.S. Capitol. Nationally known stage actor John Wilkes Booth and several other Confederate sympathizers are among the crowd. Booth will later claim he had “a splendid chance… to kill the president where he stood.”
Booth plots to kidnap Lincoln and hold him ransom for Confederate Army prisoners. Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen and John Surratt conspire with Booth, but their plot will not be carried out.
Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrenders at the Appomattox Courthouse and the Civil War ends.
The day of Lincoln’s assassination is also Good Friday.
While picking up his mail at Ford’s Theater, John Wilkes Booth overhears someone saying Lincoln will attend that evening’s performance. He spends the following eight hours gathering supplies and plotting with Powell and Atzerodt.
At the theater, Booth shoots President Lincoln in the head during a performance of “Our American Cousin.” Booth breaks his leg, but escapes by horseback. Lincoln is taken to the Peterson boarding house, across the street, where a death watch begins.
Lewis Powell attacks Secretary of State William Seward in his bed, slashing Seward’s face and inflicting a serious wound. Powell escapes out the front door of the house.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton takes charge of a manhunt for the assassins.
Booth, now traveling with David Herold, arrives at Dr. Samuel Mudd’s house in southern Maryland. Mudd, an acquaintance Booth met while scouting escape routes, sets Booth’s broken leg.
President Lincoln is pronounced dead. As word spreads, angry mobs gather in several Northern and occupied Southern cities.
Booth and Herold push on towards the Potomac River. They plan to cross into Virginia and find a safe haven with sympathetic Southerners.
On this Easter Sunday, church services are packed with mourners dressed in black. Preachers compare the deaths of Lincoln and Jesus Christ.
Booth and Herold spend the first of five days hiding in a pine thicket, two miles east of the Potomac River in southern Maryland. Searching for the fugitives, Union troops come so close Booth can hear them.
Investigators receive a tip that leads to the arrest of Lewis Powell, Seward’s attacker. The same day, police also arrest Michael O’Laughlen, Edman Spangler, Samuel Arnold and Mary Surratt.
A funeral service is held for Lincoln at the White House. Thousands of Americans line the streets to watch the procession.
Five days after Lincoln’s death, authorities still have not found Booth. Edwin Stanton offers a $100,000 reward for the fugitives still at large. In northwest Maryland, police arrest George Atzerodt.
Still hiding in the pine thicket, Booth has been given newspapers and is shocked at the nation’s response to his crime. He had been expecting to be revered as a great liberator.
Around 10:30 p.m., Booth and Herold attempt to row across the Potomac to Virginia, but in the dark they lose their way and are still in Maryland by morning.
Lincoln’s funeral train departs Washington and travels the country for 12 days while people mourn.
Booth and Herold finally get to Virginia. Three Confederate soldiers help them cross the Rappahannock River, and the fugitives find shelter in a barn owned by Richard Garrett.
In Maryland, authorities arrest Samuel Mudd, the doctor who set Booth’s broken leg.
Acting on tips, Union troops pursue the fugitives to the Garrett farm.
Soldiers surround the Garrett barn in the early morning hours. Herold surrenders, but Booth refuses and troops light the barn on fire. Booth is shot in the neck, and he dies at sunrise.
Eight defendants stand trial for President Lincoln's murder. Four will be found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The remaining four will serve prison sentences at remote Fort Jefferson, in the Dry Tortugas off of Florida, a Union prison during the Civil War.
Execution day. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt are hanged at the Old Arsenal Prison in Washington, D.C.
A ninth conspirator, fugitive John Surratt, is captured in Alexandria, Egypt. He will be tried but acquitted with a hung jury, and survive another 50 years until 1916.
Michael O’Laughlen dies at Fort Jefferson during a massive outbreak of yellow fever. He had received a life sentence for his role in the conspiracy.
President Andrew Johnson paroles Dr. Samuel Mudd , who had been sentenced to a life term in prison.
On March 1st, Edmund Spangler, sentenced to six years in prison, and Samuel Arnold, sentenced to life, are both paroled by President Johnson.
Edman Spangler dies after a long period of poor health.
Samuel Mudd dies of pneumonia.
Samuel Arnold dies of tuberculosis.
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