ASSASSINATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most significant people in all of American history. He was the 16th President of the United States and served in office from March 4th, 1861 until April 15th, 1865 when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. As President, Abraham Lincoln led the country through some of its most conflicted moments. For instance, he was President during the American Civil War, which saw the Northern states (Union) face off against the Southern states (Confederacy) in a series of bloody battles. As well, he dealt with the issue of slavery in the United States and eventually led the United States towards abolishing its practise. The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was a shocking event at the time and is still significant today for the role it played in the period of time after the end of the Civil War.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S PRESIDENCY
As stated above, Abraham Lincoln’s first term as President of the United States began in 1861. During the first years of his presidency, the Civil War began as the Southern ‘Confederate’ states ceded to form the Confederacy. In fact, historians consider Lincoln’s election as one of the main causes of the Civil War. Throughout the time of his first term, the United States was in the midst of the Civil War and suffered from several significant and bloody battles between the Union and the Confederacy. As such, Lincoln was a relatively popular in the Northern states but was incredibly unpopular in the Southern states.
Before the end of the Civil War in 1865, Abraham Lincoln ran for re-election as President of the United States in 1864. It was not certain that he would win, as many as the time were angered with the ongoing issues of the Civil War. Regardless, he was re-elected and even gained further support than his 1861 election. On March 4th in 1865, Lincoln gave his second inaugural address, in which he argued that the Civil War was ‘God’s Will’ and called for reunification of the nation. For instance, he stated the following, which is also inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.:
“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said, "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether". With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
As the Civil War came to an end, and it became clear that that Confederacy could not maintain its war effort, Lincoln and his government began preparing for ‘Reconstruction’. In short, Reconstruction refers to the time period in American history from 1865 until 1877, in which the country recovered and reunified following the division of the Civil War. Lincoln knew it was necessary to bring the Confederate states back into the Union once the war was over and sought to do so in a way that would preserve the United States. While, Lincoln was responsible for starting the process of Reconstruction in American history, he was not able to see it through because he was assassinated in 1865.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S ASSASSINATION
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on the evening of April 14th in 1865, just over a month following his second inaugural address. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who was a relatively well-known actor of the day. At the time, Lincoln was attending a play called ‘Our American Cousin’ at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. Booth approached Lincoln while he was watching the play in his theatre box and shot the president in the head. He shot the president with a ‘Philadelphia Derringer’, which was a small styled handgun. Booth stabbed another person in the box and ran from the theatre in order to make his escape. Lincoln did not die right away from the gunshot, and remained alive, although in a coma, until early the next morning. As such, Lincoln’s death is officially dated as April 15th, 1865. His Vice President, Andrew Johnson, was sworn in as the next President of the United States.
John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln as part of a larger plot by loyalists to the Confederacy. Two other assassins, Lewis Powell and David Herold, were supposed to assassinate Vice President Johnson and Secretary of State Willian H. Seward at their homes. The assassins were hoping to start a revolt by the Confederacy, and viewed Lincoln, Johnson and Seward as responsible for the Civil War. Regardless, the plot did not work as only Lincoln was assassinated. Secretary of State Seward was wounded but survived, and no attempt was ever made against Johnson, because the assassin decided against carrying it out.
As stated above, John Wilkes Booth escaped from Ford’s Theatre following his assassination of Lincoln. In fact, he went on the run from authorities and evaded capture for the next two weeks. He was eventually found hiding on a farm in Virginia where he died in a shootout on April 26th.
Lincoln’s body initially lay in state at the White House and then the Capitol building before it was transported to Springfield, Illinois. The trip to Illinois took three weeks aboard a train called the ‘Lincoln Special’. It took a route from Washington D.C. to Springfield that allowed it to pass through many towns and cities, so that people could pay their respects. Ultimately, Lincoln was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery in a large tomb referred to as the ‘Lincoln Tomb’. His wife, Mary Todd, and three of his sons were also buried at the site. He was the first American President to be assassinated while in office.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S LECACY
Abraham Lincoln is one of the most significant people in the entire history of the United States. He served as the 16th President of the United States and the first ever Republican President. As well, during his Presidency, the country was deeply divided by the events of the American Civil War and the lingering issue of slavery. He guided the Union during a very difficult time and eventually carried out the reunification of the states and started the process of ‘reconstruction’. As well, he laid the foundation for the end of the practise of slavery in the United States. For example, his Emancipation Proclamation was an incredibly important event that freed millions of slaves in 1863. Because of this, many African Americans at the time viewed him as an important factor in their freedom. Lincoln was also the first President of the United States to be assassinated. His death was shocking to the nation, especially to the Northern states who had depended on his guidance during the Civil War.
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