This year marks 150 years since the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It is amazing the things that you learn as you get older and historians start to dig in.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War.
The Doctor Was New.
The doctor who attended Lincoln had only finished his studies the week before. The 23-year-old doctor named Charles Leale was in the audience and hastened to the presidential box immediately upon hearing the shot and Mary Lincoln’s scream. He found the president slumped in his chair, paralyzed and struggling to breathe. Several soldiers carried Lincoln to a house across the street and placed him on a bed. When the surgeon general arrived at the house, he concluded that Lincoln could not be saved and would die during the night.
The Coffin He Was Placed in At The Boarding House Was Not A Coffin.
When Lincoln died at 7:22am on April 15, he was placed in a rifle container. It was all the army could get to transport him you the White House. His new body was wrapped in an American flag and placed in the box.
The President’s Brain Was Removed From His Head At The White House.
Edward Curtis, an Army surgeon in attendance, later described the scene, recounting that a bullet clattered into a waiting basin during the doctors’ removal of Lincoln’s brain. He wrote that the team stopped to stare at the offending weapon, “the cause of such mighty changes in the world’s history as we may perhaps never realize.”
Lincoln Rejected Having An Extra Bodyguard With Him That Evening.
He made a quick trip to the War Department with his bodyguard, William Crook, but there was no news from North Carolina. While returning to pick up Mary, Crook “almost begged” Lincoln not to go to the theater. He then asked if he could go along as an extra guard. Lincoln rejected both suggestions, shrugging off Crook’s fears of assassination. Lincoln knew that a guard would be posted outside their “state box” at the theater.