150 Years Later: Remembering the Lincoln Assassination

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WASHINGTON, DC — On April 14, 1865, an actor and Confederate sympathizer named John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. The following morning, less than a week after the end of the Civil War, Lincoln would become the first American president killed in office.

It was the crime of the 19th century.

Booth fled the building and, along with co-conspirator David Herold, evaded the authorities for nearly two weeks. Booth was shot and killed during capture in Virginia on April 26.

Four others were hanged for their involvement in the plot, including Mary Surratt, the first woman executed by the federal government. Three were sentenced to life in prison. Among them was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the Maryland doctor who treated a leg injury Booth sustained at Ford’s, although he was later pardoned.

The Lincoln assassination and the days that followed have engrained themselves in the region’s history. Though the assassins of Presidents William McKinley, James Garfield and John F. Kennedy were each captured within hours, Booth made his way through the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia for 12 days with a broken leg.

Ford’s Theatre remained closed for more than a century, but today houses a permanent museum focused on Lincoln and the assassination. It also still operates as a performance venue. There are even tours tracing Booth’s escape route, including stops at the carefully preserved and restored Surratt Tavern Museum and Dr. Samuel Mudd House Museum.

Visitors are able to walk the steps John Wilkes Booth took at the Mudd House. They can also visit two of the Surratt family’s properties, one of which is now a sushi restaurant and karaoke bar near Washington’s Chinatown neighborhood.

To commemorate the anniversary of the assassination and its aftermath, many of the sites are hosting special events. Ford’s Theatre will host round-the-clock events and will be open for 36 hours on April 14 and 15. Charles County, Maryland — home of the Mudd House — is sponsoring events at multiple sites over the weekend. President Barack Obama will also declare April 15 a “Day of Remembrance” for President Lincoln.

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