Killing Lincoln Information You Might Not Know
**** I was not required to post this. Just thought it was interesting. ****
Catch The Suspenseful Thriller, Killing Lincoln, on Blu-ray June 11th!
Narrated by Oscar winner Tom Hanks* and produced by Tony Scott (Unstoppable, The A-Team) & Ridley Scott (Prometheus, American Gangster), KILLING LINCOLN delivers a thrilling perspective into the criminal mind of John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. Watch the conspiracy unfold on Digital HD now and Blu-ray and DVD June 11 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment – just in time for Father’s Day!
Based on The New York Times best-selling novel, KILLING LINCOLN is the suspenseful, eye-opening account of the events surrounding the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. While some aspects of the plot to slay Lincoln and cripple the newly forming union are widely known, much more of the history unfolds in this insightful thriller. As John Wilkes Booth becomes increasingly obsessed with removing Lincoln from office, a secret faction of conspirators forms, and ultimately empowers Booth to carry out an event that will change America forever. Narrated by Oscar® Winner Tom Hanks* and produced by Tony Scott and Ridley Scott, this historical masterpiece stars Billy Campbell (TV’s The Killing) in a spectacular turn as President Lincoln.
*Actor: 1994, Forrest Gump; 1993, Philadelphia.
Did Booth Act Alone?
The prevailing notion about John Wilkes Booth, President Lincoln's assassin, is that though he conspired with other no-names in the assassination, he himself was mainly driven by insanity. However, subsequent accounts have suggested that he may have been part of a larger and more complex scheme involving the Confederate commander-in-chief, Jefferson Davis. Some sources even involve the guilt of high-ranking Canadian officials, which suggest that it might not have been such a deranged scheme after all.
A Kidnapping Plot
Interestingly enough, before it was an assassination plot, it was a kidnapping plot. Booth wanted to kidnap Lincoln and exchange him for Southern Prisoners of War. In 1865, Booth spent about $4,000 of his own money to arrange the kidnapping. There are couple of reasons why the plot failed. At one point, Booth was lying in wait to kidnap Lincoln, but he didn't show up at the right time. Then, a couple of days after Robert E. Lee surrendered; Booth was in attendance when Lincoln gave a speech about all citizens regardless of race having the right to vote. Infuriated, Booth decided a mere kidnap attempt wouldn't do - assassination was the only answer.
Before the Assassination
Lincoln occupied a private box above the stage with his wife Mary, a young army officer named Henry Rathbone and Rathbone’s fiance, Clara Harris, the daughter of New York Senator Ira Harris. The Lincolns arrived late for the comedy, Our American Cousin but the President was reportedly in a fine mood and laughed heartily during the production.
At 10:15, Booth slipped into the box and fired his .44-caliber single-shot derringer into the back of Lincoln's head. After stabbing Rathbone, who immediately rushed at him, in the shoulder, Booth leapt onto the stage and shouted, "Sic semper tyrannis!" ("Thus ever to tyrants!" – the Virginia state motto). At first, the crowd interpreted the unfolding drama as part of the production, but a scream from the first lady told them otherwise. Although Booth allegedly broke his leg in the fall, he managed to leave the theatre and escape from Washington on horseback.
After the Assassination
A 23-year-old doctor named Charles Leale was in the audience and hastened to the presidential box immediately upon hearing the shot and Mary Lincoln’s scream. He found the President slumped in his chair, paralyzed and struggling to breathe. Several soldiers carried Lincoln to a house across the street and placed him on a bed. When the surgeon general arrived at the house, he concluded that Lincoln could not be saved and would die during the night.
The search for John Wilkes Booth was one of the largest manhunts in history, with 10,000 federal troops, detectives and police tracking down the assassin.
Booth’s Last Words
On April 26, Union troops surrounded the Virginia farmhouse where Booth and Herold were hiding out and set fire to it, hoping to flush the fugitives out. Herold surrendered but Booth remained inside. As the blaze intensified, a sergeant shot Booth in the neck, allegedly because the assassin had raised his gun as if to shoot. Carried out of the building alive, he lingered for three hours before gazing at his hands and uttering his last words: "Useless, useless.”
Four of Booth’s co-conspirators were convicted for their part in the assassination and executed by hanging on July 7, 1865. They included David Herold and Mary Surratt, the first woman put to death by the federal government, whose boarding house had served as a meeting place for the would-be kidnappers.
The Other Targets
While Lincoln's death at the hands of John Wilkes Booth will likely always be remembered as one of America's most heinous crimes, it should be recalled that Booth and his conspirators had two other targets that night, as well: Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson. Even though Lee had already surrendered to Grant, Booth reasoned that if they could kill the President, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State all on one night the Union would be thrown into disarray. And, with no formal right of succession - which wouldn't be codified in the Constitution until after the Kennedy assassination - Booth might have had a point.
The night that Lincoln was murdered, Seward was laid up in bed. He had been in a serious carriage accident just nine days earlier that had left him close to death. One of Booth's co-conspirators, Lewis Powell (aka Lewis Paine), talked his way into the Seward house pretending that he was delivering medicine. Stopped on the stairs by Seward's son, Frederick, Powell panicked, attacking Frederick and dashing into the Secretary of State's bedroom. He stabbed Seward multiple times, injured another of Seward's sons and his bodyguard, and retreated into the night thinking he had mortally wounded the Secretary of State. It was only after Powell was captured the next day that he discovered that Seward was still alive; Seward went on to make a full recovery, continuing to serve as Secretary of State under Andrew Johnson. (Johnson was to have been assassinated that night by George Azerodt, but the would-be killer chickened out.)
Want more? KILLING LINCOLN, which makes its debut on Blu-ray and DVD June 11th.