Main article: Abraham Lincoln assassination
Further information: Abraham Lincoln's burial and exhumation
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln. From left to right: Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes BoothOriginally, John Wilkes Booth had formulated a plan to kidnap Lincoln in exchange for the release of Confederate prisoners. He attended an April 11th speech outside the White House in which Lincoln gave support for the idea of voting rights for blacks. Furious at the prospect, Booth changed to a plan for assassination.
Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland, heard that the President and Mrs. Lincoln, along with the Grants, would be attending Ford's Theatre. Having failed in a plot to kidnap Lincoln earlier, Booth informed his co-conspirators of his intention to kill Lincoln. Others were assigned to assassinate vice-president Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward.
President Lincoln's Grave at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, IllinoisWithout his main bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon, to whom he related his famous dream regarding his own assassination, Lincoln left to attend the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1865. As a lone bodyguard wandered, and Lincoln sat in his state box (Box 7) in the balcony, Booth crept up behind the President's box and waited for the funniest line of the play, hoping the laughter would cover the noise of the gunshot. When the laughter came Booth jumped into the box with the President and aimed a single-shot, round-slug .44 caliber Deringer at his head, firing at point-blank range. Major Henry Rathbone momentarily grappled with Booth but was cut by Booth's knife. Booth then leapt to the stage and shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" (Latin: "Thus always to tyrants") and escaped. Despite a broken leg suffered in the leap, a twelve-day manhunt ensued, in which Booth was chased by Federal agents (under the direction of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton), until he was finally cornered in a barnhouse in Virginia and shot, dying soon after.
An army surgeon, Doctor Charles Leale, initially assessed Lincoln's wound as mortal. The President was taken across the street from the theater to the Petersen House, where he lay in a coma for nine hours before he died. Several physicians attended Lincoln, including U.S. Army Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes of the Army Medical Museum. Using a probe, Barnes located some fragments of Lincoln's skull and the ball lodged 6 inches (15 cm) inside his brain. Lincoln never regained consciousness and was officially pronounced dead at 7:22 a.m. April 15, 1865 at the now young age of 56 years old. There is some disagreement among historians as to Stanton's words after Lincoln died.