Friday, April 14

April 14 marks the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination

Lincoln slain 141 years ago at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.

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[APRIL 14, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- One hundred and forty-one years ago on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theatre as Lincoln watched the comedy "Our American Cousin." Lincoln and his wife, Mary, were seated with Maj. Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris in the presidential box when, at approximately 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth gained entry to where Lincoln was seated, placed a derringer pistol behind the president's left ear and shot him at point-blank range. Lincoln died the next day, at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865.

Lincoln's funeral tour was the most prolonged, most elaborate and most repeated ceremony in American history. The first of many funeral services for the fallen president was conducted at the White House on April 19, 1865. A procession then accompanied the horse-drawn hearse as Lincoln's body was carried to the Capitol, where he lay in state in the rotunda the following day. On April 21 the president's remains were placed on a special train for the nearly 1,700-mile trip to Springfield. The train also carried the remains of the Lincolns' son, William "Willie," who had died in Washington, D.C., in 1862. The train route stopped in 12 major cities, spanning a 15-day trip, and arrived in Springfield on May 3 at what is now the Old State Capitol. Lincoln was buried the following day, May 4, 1865, in Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery.

"Only six other times since 1865 has the anniversary of this tragic event corresponded with the Lenten season in which it occurred," said Dr. Thomas F. Schwartz, interim executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. "Booth's cowardly act horrified the nation. Lincoln's death was mourned by many Northern churches on what became known as Black Easter. His funeral became the template for John F. Kennedy's televised funeral as well as all presidents since Kennedy."

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It is estimated that nearly 1 million people witnessed Lincoln's funeral tour. Seventy-five thousand paid their last respects at the Old State Capitol. To date, almost 600,000 have viewed the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum's "Journey Two" exhibit, where visitors can view a re-creation of the presidential box at Ford's Theatre, following with the scene of Lincoln lying in state. "Lying in State" is a nearly full-scale recreation of the Representatives Hall in Springfield's Old State Capitol, recreating the exact time in May 1865, complete with all the lavish trappings of Victorian-era mourning.

Another anniversary that is approaching is the museum's one-year anniversary, on April 19. Scheduled events include a press conference, live entertainment, complimentary birthday cake and an evening panel discussion. For more information, visit

[Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum news release]


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