Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln’s Assassination

What was the scene in Ford’s Theatre?

It was little short of pandemonium. Miss Laura Keene, the star of the play, attempted to obtain silence from the crowd, but found it impossible. Many persons struggled up the stairs and to the president’s box, only to find it barred. When Major Rathbone managed to free the chair Booth had set under the doorknob, they flooded in. Fortunately, there were several physicians in the audience. The youngest of the group, a twenty-three-year-old surgeon, tended to Lincoln first.

Some people wanted to pick Lincoln up and take him to the White House, but the physicians believed he would not survive such a trip. Far better, they declared, to bring him to the nearest house. By this time, they had identified the bullet wound in the back of Lincoln’s head. Using a .44 caliber derringer, Booth had made his mark quite well. Lincoln was brought to Petersen’s boarding house, where he was tended by the physicians and watched over by members of his Cabinet. Not all could be present, however.


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