HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Actor John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre during a performance of
Our American Cousin
Booth was a Confederate sympathizer who planned to kidnap the President in response to General Grant's 1864 order to suspend exchanges of prisoners of war. If the President could be kidnapped, the Confederacy could random Lincoln for its prisoners of war. But the Confederate position during deteriorated and Booth decided to alter his plan, attempting to assassinate the Secretary of State, the Vice President and the President all at once. Booth hired several co-conspirators to assist him.
Only Booth's plan completely succeeded. On the night of April 4th, 1865, Booth entered the Presidential Box of Ford's Theatre and shot Lincoln in the back of the head at point-blank range with a Deringer pistol. Major Henry Rathbone, accompanying the President for his trip to the theatre, immediately tried to corral Booth and prevent his escape, but Booth stabbed Rathbone before he jumped over the box onto the stage. It is not known for certain if Booth actually said "sic semper tyrannis," Latin for "thus always to tyrants," when he landed on the stage or not.
A massive manhunt ensued, and John Wilkes Booth escaped to southern Maryland and into northern Virginia. He was hiding at Garrett's Farm when Union soldiers threatened to burn the barn that housed him; Booth refused to surrender and was shot.