John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was a famous American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre, in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Booth was a member of the prominent 19th-century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and, by the 1860s, was a well-known actor. He was also a Confederate sympathizer, vehement in his denunciation of Lincoln, and was strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Booth and a group of co-conspirators originally plotted to kidnap Lincoln, but later planned to kill him, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William H. Seward in a bid to help the Confederacy’s cause. Although Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered four days earlier, Booth believed the American Civil War was not yet over because Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s army was still fighting the Union Army. Of the conspirators, only Booth was completely successful in carrying out his respective part of the plot. Booth shot Lincoln once in the back of the head. The President died the next morning. Seward was severely wounded but recovered. Vice-President Johnson was never attacked at all.
Following the assassination, Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland, eventually making his way to a farm in rural northern Virginia 12 days later, where he was tracked down. Booth’s companion gave himself up, but Booth refused and was shot by a Union soldier after the barn in which he was hiding was set ablaze. Eight other conspirators or suspects were tried and convicted, and four were hanged shortly thereafter.
Robert Todd Lincoln (August 1, 1843 – July 26, 1926) was an American lawyer and businessman. He was the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. Born in Springfield, Illinois, United States, he was the only one of Lincoln’s four sons to live to adulthood, and the only member of the Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln family to survive into the 1900s.
Lincoln received the university education that had been unavailable to his father, and then served on the staff of Ulysses S. Grant as a captain in the Union Army in the closing days of the American Civil War. Following completion of law school in Chicago, he built a successful law practice, becoming wealthy representing corporate clients.
After the war Lincoln married Mary Eunice Harlan, the daughter of a United States Senator. They remained married until his death, and were the parents of three children.
Active in Republican politics, and a tangible symbol of his father’s legacy, Robert Lincoln was often spoken of as a possible candidate for office, including the presidency, but never took steps to mount a campaign. The one office to which he was elected was Town Supervisor of South Chicago, which he held from 1876 to 1877. (The town later became part of the city of Chicago.) He did accept appointments as Secretary of War in the administrations of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur, and Minister to England in the Benjamin Harrison administration.
After having served as counsel to the Pullman Palace Car Company, in 1897 he succeeded George Pullman as the company’s president, and he remained affiliated with the company as president or chairman of the board until his death.
In Lincoln’s later years he resided at homes in Washington, D.C. and Manchester, Vermont. The Manchester home, Hildene, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. In 1922 he took part in the dedication ceremonies for the Lincoln Memorial.
A dedicated amateur astronomer and golfer, Lincoln remained active almost until his death. He died at Hildene on July 26, 1926, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.