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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

Follow the Evidence: The Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators

Lincoln CSI Header

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth | Prosecution | Defense | Verdict |
April 14, 1865 | The Conspirators


It has been proven through witness testimony that John Wilkes Booth did conspire to kidnap President Lincoln. Frustrated that his kidnapping plot was unsuccessful, Booth set outside Ford's Theare on April 14, 1865, he overheard people talking about the president's appearance that night at the theatre. This is when Booth put his plan to assassinate the president into action. He gained entry to the presidential box at Ford's Theatre atLincoln CSI about 10:15 p.m. while the president and first lady were enjoying the play "Our American Cousin". From behind the president, Booth fired the fatal shot. Major Henry Rathbone who was attending the play with the Lincolns, tried to apprehend Booth. John Wilkes Booth escaped the clutches of Major Rathbone and jumped to the stage falling awkwardly which resulted in a broken leg. He then escaped out the back door. Mary Jane Anderson, a black woman who lived behind Ford's Theatre in an alley house testified that she saw John Wilkes Booth enter Ford's Theatre. She is the only person who saw Booth both enter and escape from Ford's Theatre.


Derringer gun John Wilkes Booth usedLincoln CSI
to assassinate Abraham Lincoln
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs

James S. Knox to Knox
Saturday, April 15, 1865
(Eyewitness account of
Lincoln's assassination)
Library of Congress
American Memory

Lincoln CSI





Knife and Sheath: Horn-handled dagger
used by John Wilkes Booth to stab Major
Henry Rathbone after shooting
Abraham Lincoln.
Library of Congress



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