Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States to be killed while in office. When Abraham Lincoln was voted into office as the President of the United States in 1861, the largest problem he had to address upon taking office was the separation of the southern states from the Union. This withdrawal of the South began the Civil War. Lincoln's leadership role during the war ultimately led to his assassination. He was killed by John Wilkes Booth, a member of a well-known theatrical family who was a confirmed Confederate sympathizer. Booth was an outspoken critic of the Lincoln administration and angry at the defeat of the South in the Civil War.
The main issue prompting the Southern withdrawal from the Union was the practice of slavery. Most southern plantations used slave labor to plant, tend and harvest their crops. The main crops grown in the plantations were cotton, tobacco and sugar cane and they were labor intensive crops.
The election of 1860 brought Abraham Lincoln to Washington, DC as a newly elected President of the United States. While he had been elected by the voters in the South as well as in the North, those in the South still harbored hard feelings about the North’s desire to abolish the slave trade and feared a quick end to their labor force.
Faced while such a disastrous result, many business groups were willing to back a man or group of men that would get rid of what they saw as the major impediment to them keeping their way of life: Lincoln.
Booth abhorred the abolition of slavery in the United States following the War and was infuriated by the Lincoln’s proposal to give the right to vote to the recently freed slaves.
Wilkes had constructed a plan to kidnap the president, smuggle him into Richmond and arrange a trade to return the president for the release of Confederate officers that were then being held in Northern prisons.
Booth was the ringleader of the group intent on conducting the abduction. They laid the plan to kidnap the president on an evening that the president was supposed to attend a play near his summer home. That evening the president changed his plans and therefore the kidnap plan could not come to fruition.
The plan was not discarded, but instead was changed to a plot to assassinate the president. It was late in the war by this time, and the news of Lee surrendering to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse further infuriated Booth. He proclaimed to a friend that he was going to give up the theatre and said there was only one play he still wanted to perform: Venice Preserv’d, a play about a plot to assassinate one of the characters.
Booth’s plan to assassinate the president was worked out in detail with his accomplices for many days before the date it was to be executed. On the day of the assassination, every task was only partially carried out except for Booth’s fatal shot. The shot was true and the president died from the wound.
Booth leapt to the floor of the stage, injuring his leg and fled into the night. The manhunt for Booth continued into the surrounding Maryland countryside for the next two weeks, resulting the capture and arrest of most of the conspirators. During the escape, Booth had his leg attended to by Dr. Samuel Mudd. Mudd was also arrested for aiding the assassin.
Booth succeeded in remaining at large until April 26th. He was finally apprehended in the barn on the Garrett farm in Virginia. During the encounter at the barn, the building was set ablaze to force him to flee out of the building. Before he could get out of the building one of the soldiers shot him. The wound was to his neck and paralyzed him. He was drug from the barn and died a few hours later.