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147th Anniversary of Lincoln's Assassination

This weekend (April 14th & 15th) will mark the 147th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The events of that day, how they unfolded over a 24 hour period, the brutality of the attacks on Secretary of State Seward’s family and on Lincoln himself, and the lives that were shattered would be outlandish if created for fiction.  But because they are true, it is a gripping story of love, betrayal, violence, men and women overcoming adversity, and ultimately the triumph of our constitution and democratic ideals.  It would make for an interesting read to have a book focused on those 24 hours (which you can purchase by clicking on the cover illustration to your left!)


Here are the key events that occurs on the 24 hours from roughly 7:00 AM on April 14, 1865 to 7:22 AM on April 15, 1856 when Abraham Lincoln was pronounced dead.  You can look on other pages within the site to see the numerous resources that went into the development of this timeline.


Also, A Night of Horrors will be offered for free over this weekend in recognition of the anniversary.


Good Friday, April 14, 1865

7:00 AM

·      Lincoln awakes refreshed, which is a rare occurrence and he takes it as a good sign for the day

·      Goes to office and does some paperwork and reads the Bible, his daily practice


8:00 AM

·      Lincoln has extended breakfast with family, Mary, Tad, and Robert who has just returned from war

·      Robert shares the story of Lee's surrender to Grant, at which Robert was present

·      This is the four year anniversary of Fort Sumter's surrender to Confederates


9:00 AM

·      Breakfast with family continues

·      Begins office work

10:00 AM

·      Writes letters and notes in response to requests of the President

·      Meets with Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax and then Senator John Creswell of Maryland

·      Goes to the War Department to speak with Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton

·      Lincoln spent more time with Edwin Stanton than anyone else in his cabinet during the war

·      Booth has breakfast at the National Hotel (where he was staying) at the table with Miss Carrie Bean

·      Booth goes to Booker and Stewart barbershop on E Street for morning shave and grooming


11:00 AM

·      Lincoln holds his Cabinet meeting which General Ulysses S. Grant attends

·      The meeting will last for three hours and Lincoln paints his picture of the peace to follow the war

·      Booth walks to Ford's Theatre to pick up his mail and learns that Lincoln will attend the play that night

·      Booth, who had been planning to kidnap Lincoln, begins to conspire to kill him instead

·      Booth goes to Pumphrey's Stable on C Street to to arrange for a horse to be ready at 4:00 PM


12:00 PM

·      Cabinet meeting continues, they discuss setting up new state governments, suffrage

·      Grant updates them on Lee's surrender and situation with the Confederate Armies still in the field

·      Booth goes to Willard Hotel where he observes Mrs. Grant having lunch and causes her alarm

·      His planning of the attack continues as he moves through Washington City


1:00 PM

·      Lincoln shares about a recurring dream he had the night before that portends big events

·      Gen. Grant begs off to attend the play that night with President and Mrs. Lincoln so he can return to his children with his wife


2:00 PM

·      Cabinet meeting ends, Lincoln skips lunch and munches on an apple while continuing paperwork

·      Lincoln signs a few pardons

·      Lincoln talks with Assistant Secretary of War Charles Dana

·      Throughout the day, 13 people will decline the Lincolns' invitation to the play that night

·      Booth stops by Mary Surratt's boarding house to have rifles, field glasses, and whiskey available at her saloon in southern Maryland

·      Booth goes by Ford's as rehearsal wraps up and then has a drink with John Fergueson at Taltalvull's Star Saloon

·      Louis Weichmann goes to rent a horse and carriage for Mary Surratt


3:00 PM

·      Abraham and Mary Lincoln take a carriage ride in the fine spring air

·      On the ride, Lincoln is the happiest that his wife has seen him in year

·      They talk about their future after the White House and where they will travel together

·      Booth goes to National Hotel and gets pen and paper and drafts a letter to Newspaper Editor

·      Booth then visits the Kirkwood House and leaves his card for Vice President Andrew Johnson

4:00 PM

·      Lincolns visit the Navy Yard and inspect the ironclad Montauk

·      Booth goes to Pumphrey's Stable to retrieve his horse

·      He encounters John Matthews, who will appear in Our American Cousin at Ford's that night, on the streets of Washington

·      Booth give Matthews his letter to the editor, which is sealed and asks him to give it to the paper

·      Matthews shares that Gen. Grant was riding by and Booth chases after the carriage

·      Booth realizes that Grant will not be at the theater that night after all

5:00 PM

·      Lincolns finish their visit and continue the carriage ride back from the Navy Yard

·      Booth takes his horse to his makeshift stable behind Ford's Theatre

6:00 PM

·      Lincolns return to White House for an early dinner before the play

·      Mary complains of a headache, but Lincoln tells her they must go, because the people are expecting them at the play

·      Lincoln talks with Governor Ogelsby and General Hanie and reads passages from The Nasby Papers and laughs

·      Booth prepares his gun and knife in his room at the National Hotel

·      Booth goes to the empty Ford's Theatre and prepares the pine brace to lock himself into the President's Box that night

7:00 PM

·      Lincolns have dinner, Robert excuses himself from dinner and play due to exhaustion

·      Lincoln meets with Schuyler Colfax for second time as he is departing for west coast in the morning

·      Lincoln visits War Department to talk with Stanton and assure him he has a military escort for the night at the theater

·      Mary Surratt arrives at her saloon in Surrattsville and arranges for rifles, field glasses, and whiskey as Booth asked

8:00 PM

·      Fog begins to settle over Washington City

·      Lincolns depart Executive Mansion and go to pick up Miss Harris and Col. Rathbone who will escort them

·      Arrive at Ford's Theatre around 8:30 (play underway) and the action is halted so that actors and audience alike can give Lincoln a standing ovation

·      Lincoln and his guests arrange themselves in the President's Box

·      Booth holds a meeting over dinner with his band of conspirators

·      Tells them that they will not kidnap Lincoln, but attack President Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward at the same time that night

·      Present at the meeting are George Atzerodt, David Herrold, and Lewis Powell

·      Powell is assigned to Seward and Atzerodt to Johnson, Herrold is to guide Powell out of the city after Seward was killed

·      The attacks are set to occur at 10:15 PM

9:00 PM


·      Stanton returns home from the War Department to listen to a serenade of workers from the War Department

·      Andrew Johnson goes to sleep after reading a book

·      William Seward is home in bed recuperating from a terrible carriage accident that left his jaw severely broken

·      At some point in the play, Lincoln gets up and puts his overcoat on as he is cold

·      Booth arrives at Baptist Alley behind the theater at some point with his horse and arranges for Spangler to hold his horse for him

·      Booth goes inside the backstage door and crosses under the stage to an exit on the other side of the building

·      Booth goes into tavern and has a drink and then goes to front of theater and talks with John Buckingham the ticket taker for Ford's

10:00 PM

·      Lincoln receives a telegram brought to him by Charles Forbes (his footman)

·      Powell and Herrold arrive at Seward's home and Powell gains access by carrying a box wrapped in brown paper and twine and tells the doorman he has medicine from the doctor

·      Powell is stopped by Seward's son Fred, the Assistant Secretary of State, who refuses to let him past

·      Powell points a pistol at his face and pulls trigger, but it misfires, so he beats him unconscious over the head with the butt of the gun

·      He gains access to Seward's room and fights off George Robinson, an Army Private guarding the Secretary

·      Powell forces himself past Fanny Seward, the Secretary's daughter, and strikes at Seward's throat with a large Bowie knife

·      William Seward has a metal and leather brace on his head, holding his broken jaw in place, that deflects the knife from his neck

·      Powell cuts Seward's face open and lacerates his neck, but does not kill the Secretary

·      Powell is attacked by Robinson and Seward's other son, Gus, and then flees the house to find himself alone as Herrold rode off after hearing Fanny's Seward's screams

·      He jumps onto his horse and flees the scene

·      George Atzerodt arrives at the Kirkwood House, where he and Vice President Johnson are staying

·      He orders a few drinks to brace himself and then decides he will not be part of the attack and leaves

·      He gets drunk and sleeps in a different hotel that night, the Pennsylvania House

·      Booth goes into the theater and up the steps and slowly crosses behind the seat towards the President's Box

·      Booth knows the play well and is timing his assassination with a point in the third act where there is a big laugh line and only one person on stage

·      He gives the footman a card and gains entrance, then braces the pine bar to wedge the door closed behind him

·      He takes out his gun and knife and steps into the box as the line is uttered and shoots Lincoln at point blank range in the back of the head

·      He struggles with Col. Charles Rathbone and severely stabs him in the arm and jumps to the stage below, breaking his leg, crying "Sic Semper Tyrannis", and then exits through the back door

·      Charles Leale, a young Army doctor in the audience, keeps Lincoln alive by relieving the growing pressure on his brain, but diagnoses the wound to his head as fatal

·      Lincoln is carried across the street to the Petersen House, where Leale continues to care for the President

·      Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy, and Edwin Stanton are told of the attack on Seward at almost the same time and leave for Seward's house

11:00 PM

·      Welles and Stanton arrive at Seward's house and view the horrific site

·      Seward is almost exsanguinated from the wounds he sustained and his deathly pale

·      Messengers arrive and inform Welles and Stanton of the attack on the President and they immediately leave for the Petersen House

·      Dr. Robert Stone, Lincoln's family doctor, arrives at Petersen's and examines the President's wound and concurs with Leale's prognosis

·      Lincoln has a series of twitches and begins long rattled breaths

·      Mary Lincoln is inconsolable

·      Booth meets up with David Herrold and they ride through Washington City and past the Army guards and into Southern Maryland


Saturday, April 15, 1865


12:00 AM

·      Lincoln continues his slow slide towards death

·      Stanton sets up an office in a parlor in the Petersen House and begins taking testimony

·      He orders Grant back to Washington City and all of the gates and exits from the Capitol closed

·      Booth and Herrold arrive around midnight at Surratt House to pick up rifles, field glasses, and whiskey from Lloyd

1:00 AM

·      Andrew Johnson visits around 1:30 AM, briefly

·      Stanton sends first telegram on the assassination to General Dix

·      While other Cabinet members are gathered around Lincoln's bed, Stanton essentially runs the United States Government

2:00 AM

·      Mary visits Lincoln's bedside briefly

·      After she leaves, doctors insert probes into the wound to measure distance and track the bullet's path in his brain

·      Lincoln's pulse begins to weaken

·      Detectives visit Mary Surratt's boarding house based on an anonymous tip given to one of the detectives

·      Booth and Herrold continue riding south

3:00 AM

·      Rev. Phineas Gurney arrives and says a prayer over the President

·      Mary comes back to sit next to President and begins to scream uncontrollably when the President begins to twitch and rasp in his breathing

·      Stanton orders her removed

·      Sometime in the night, Powell arrives at Glenwood Cemetery in Maryland, where he sleeps under a tree for the night

4:00 AM

·      Stanton sends a telegram to Gen. Dix that he is convinced Booth is the assassin based on testimony and material gathered at his room

·      Mary visits briefly

·      Booth and Herrold arrive at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who sets Booth's leg and allows them to sleep there

5:00 AM

·      Mary visits briefly again

6:00 AM

·      Gideon Welles takes a brief walk outside and a rain begins to fall

·      Mary visits again and Lincoln's face twitches horribly sending her into another paroxysm of screams and crying

·      Stanton orders her out of the room and not to be allowed in again

·      Atzerodt arises from the Pennsylvania House and leaves, tossing his knife under a carriage step on F Street, eventually making his way out of Washington City

7:00 AM

·      Lincoln dies at 7:22 AM

·      Edwin Stanton says, "Now he belongs to the ages."

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