John Wilkes Booth at Lincoln's Inauguration

A photo of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration in 1865, highlighting the location of his eventual assassin John Wilkes Booth as Lincoln makes his speech
A photo of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration in 1865, highlighting the location of his eventual assassin John Wilkes Booth as Lincoln makes his speech

Historical Context

John Wilkes Booth, the actor-turned-assassin who shot and killed US President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, had been in the presence of his target before: at his inauguration. Lincoln, in the midst of the American Civil War, had won re-election handily on November 8, 1864.

He began his second term on March 4, 1865, delivering his inaugural address on the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Booth stood watching in the stands above the president. Lincoln admired Booth for his acting talents, and the actor had been invited to the White House several times, without success. Lincoln had also watched Booth in a play in 1863 at Ford's Theatre, the same location where Booth would later assassinate him.

Writing in his diary after observing Lincoln's speech, Booth wrote "what an excellent chance I had, if I wished, to kill the President on Inauguration day!"

Booth first planned to kidnap Lincoln, before he and his co-conspirators decided to kill him. He would do so just 42 days into Lincoln's second term and mere days from the end of the Civil War.

Photo Info


Photographer: Alexander Gardner (edited by Mercury88888888)
Date taken: March 4, 1865
Location taken: Washington D.C., USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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