Seven score and ten years ago (or 150 years for those archaic-arithmetic-impaired), Abraham Lincoln went to take in a show.
Wilkes Booth was one of his favorite actors, but he would not see that actor that night. Booth came up from behind, before exiting center stage.
Most Americans are still under the impression that Booth did the act in order to make a name for himself…
. . . . . Why? He was so famous already that everyone in the Ford audience that night knew who he was when he landed on the stage.
… and to make a fatal strike of revenge for the Confederates having lost the war.
. . . . . This is the most frequent misconception of the period. The war was not over.
Yes, Lee had surrendered at Appomattox the week before but he was not empowered to surrender for the government. Nor could he even surrender the forces not under his immediate command – and let’s face it, Lee only had 25% of the CSA fighting force with him.
And there were still battles fought and steamboats blown-up AFTER Lincoln’s death.
Lincoln himself, hopeful that the end was nearing, had spent most of the day before heading for the theater, sitting in the War Office hoping for a telegram from the Union Army in the south that Johnson had surrendered his forces. When he left for Ford’s Theater, he told them to send a messenger immediately should the telegram come in.
His death may, however, have hastened the end.