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fter Lincoln’s reelection in November 1864, Booth devised a plan to kidnap the president and spirit him to Richmond, where he could be ransomed for some of the Confederate prisoners languishing in northern jails. Booth enlisted a group of friends from Washington to aid him in his attempt. That winter, Booth and his conspirators plotted a pair of elaborate plans to kidnap the president; the first involved capturing Lincoln in his box at Ford’s Theater and lowering the president to the stage with ropes. Booth ultimately gave up acting to focus on these schemes, and spent more than $10,000 to buy supplies to outfit his band of kidnappers. Neither of the kidnapping plans bore fruit—the second, a ploy on March 17 to capture Lincoln as he traveled in his carriage collapsed when the president changed his itinerary—and several of Booth’s conspirators ultimately left the group.Click to Edit Description
Booth fired a single shot (timed so that that the audience’s laughter would mask the report) into Lincoln’s brain at point-blank range before jumping to the stage and escaping into the night. After a two-week manhunt, Federal troops cornered Booth in a barn in Maryland, where a Union soldier shot him in the neck. Booth died two hours later.
Only one of the four intended victims of Booth’s plot was killed, but Lincoln was by far the biggest prize. With Lincoln’s death, Andrew Johnson ascended to the presidency, and the nation lost the one man that most contemporaries, and most American historians, believed best qualified to “bind up the nation’s wounds” after four brutal years of war.
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