Ford’s Theatre: Lincoln’s Last Days

Ford's Theatre: Lincoln's Last Days

History: On April 14, shortly after 10 p.m., popular actor John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in the back of the head, while the president watched a play with his wife at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. Whether the Confederate high command in Richmond, Virginia sanctioned the plan, or Booth retaliated on his own for what he perceived as Lincoln's harsh wartime policies is unclear.

The mortally wounded president was carried across the street to the Petersen Boarding House. While doctors cared for the dying President, over 90 people paid their last respects. Soldiers stood guard at the front door and were posted on the roof to keep the growing crowds at bay. At 7:22 am, April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln died in the back bedroom of this humble house.

More to Explore: Explore Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site and see the venue where President Lincoln was shot and his life ended. Through National Park Service exhibits and programs, you can discover Lincoln's life and legacy in Washington DC, the struggle for a united country, and the motivation behind his assassination. Purchase tickets for a live theatre performance.

The Ford's Theatre Museum and Center for Education and Leadership offer exhibits and artifacts related to Abraham Lincoln's presidency, assassination and legacy. The center features a winding staircase and a 34-foot tower of books about Abraham Lincoln. Pick up a Civil War Trails map guide for "The Escape of an Assassin Trail" to follow the route taken by Booth as he attempted escape after assassinating President Lincoln.

Photo Credits:

  1. "Photograph of Ford’s Theatre, the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination."
  2. "Photograph of preserved Presidential balcony booth where President Lincoln was assassinated."
  3. "Drawing of President Abraham Lincoln on his deathbed, with mourning friends and Family around him."
  4. "Photograph of wanted poster for the assassins of President Abraham Lincoln."
  5. "Picture attributing John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln to the influence of the pro slavery secret society, the Knights of the Golden Circle." Prints courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division