Lincoln Myths and Misconceptions Quiz: Answer 12

12. After shooting Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth leapt from the balcony to the stage of Ford’s Theatre in Washington, breaking his leg in the process, and shouted “Sic Semper Tyrannis!”

TRUE. John Wilkes Booth was an actor, and he carried off his assassination of Abraham Lincoln in a particularly dramatic fashion. He had performed in Ford’s Theatre before, so it was not unusual for him to walk right in and sneak off to the balcony where Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were seated. Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head, grappled with Major Henry Rathbone (one of the Lincolns’ theatre companions), and jumped from the balcony. In doing so his foot caught on a flag, and so when he landed he broke his left leg. Many witnesses said that he yelled the Virginia state motto “Sic semper tyrannis,” meaning “thus always to tyrants.” Some witnesses say that he also declared that “The South is avenged!”

The assassination was part of a larger conspiracy to murder Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward as well. Seward was stabbed that same night but not killed, and Johnson was not attacked at all.

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