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Lincoln Assassination: Topics in Chronicling America

On April 14, 1865, five days after the Confederate surrender, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. This guide provides access to material related to the "Lincoln Assassination" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

The horse-drawn hearse carrying the body of Abraham Lincoln through Chicago (Left). Last photograph of Abraham Lincoln taken before his assassination (Right). April 12, 1940. The Key West Citizen (Key West, FL), Image 4. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

On April 15, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth during a special performance at Ford’s Theater. A nine-car funeral train carries the body of the President to Springfield, Illinois, where he is buried on May 4th. Although many of the co-conspirators in this large are captured, John Wilkes Booth is shot after being traced to a farm in Bowling Green, VA on April 24th. The other co-conspirators in the assassination plots on President Lincoln, Secretary Seward, and Vice President Johnson are later tried and convicted by an army military commission. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

April 14, 1865 Abraham Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC while attending a special performance of the comedy, "Our American Cousin". Secretary of State William Henry Seward is shot by Lewis Paine at the same time at his home near the White House.
April 21, 1865 Lincoln's body departs Washington in a nine-car funeral train. The 1,700-mile trip back to Illinois would essentially be over the same tracks that carried the then President-elect east in 1861. Cities along the route that hold funeral processions include Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Chicago.
April 26, 1865 John Wilkes Booth and accomplice David Herold are caught by the military at a farm near Bowling Green, Virginia. Although Herold surrenders, Booth is shot and killed.
May 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln is laid to rest in a tomb at Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery.
May 10, 1865 An army military commission is convened to try Mrs. Mary Surratt, David Herold, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt, Edman Spangler, Michael O'Laughlin, Samuel Arnold, and Dr. Samuel Mudd for their parts in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln. Surratt, Herold, Paine, and Atzerodt will eventually be given the death penalty, while the remaining defendants are sentenced to imprisonment.
July 7, 1865 Four co-conspirators, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt, David Herold, and Mary Surratt, were executed by hanging at the Old Penitentiary, on the site of present-day Fort McNair, for their part in the assassination conspiracy.