It’s the evening of April 14, 1865, and President Abraham Lincoln is sitting with his beloved wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, in their private box at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. The happy couple are engrossed in the performance of Our American Cousin that’s playing out below them – but fate has other plans. At 10:15 p.m., you see, a gunman named John Wilkes Booth creeps up behind the president and fires off a round into the back of his skull. Of course, this much most of us know, but it’s the true nature of the Lincoln’s final words to Mary that has been fiercely contested throughout the years.
Lincoln’s assassination actually came hot on the heels of a great victory. The devastating American Civil War had ended only five days earlier, after all. Yes, after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. And Booth – the gunman – was a known Confederate sympathizer. So his assassination of Lincoln was part of a three-pronged attack on the U.S. government and was seemingly intended to resuscitate the cause.