header print

Haunting pictures of men contemplating their fate

 April 14th, 1865 was a fateful date in the history of the US presidency. Then-incumbent President, Abraham Lincoln, was watching a theatrical performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., when an actor named John Wilkes Booth burst into the president’s private balcony and put a bullet in the back of his head. “Thus always to tyrants!” he cried, as he leapt to the stage below and fled into the night.
Click on the images to enlarge them
and keep scrolling down to read the full story. 
Below: Lewis Powell, also known as Lewis Payne, who attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward.
This assassination was part of a wider, but unsuccessful, conspiracy to simultaneously murder the three most powerful men in the country, namely the president, the vice president and secretary of state. The conspirators hoped to throw the Union government into disarray by carrying out the plot, thus reviving the Confederacy’s (the 10 remaining secessionist slave states fighting on one side of the American Civil War) cause.
Below: A man (name undisclosed) arrested on suspicion of being a conspirator.​
The conspirators’ original plan was to kidnap President Lincoln and attempt to have Confederate prisoners released as his ransom, but this was thwarted following the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to the Union, effectively ending the Civil War on April 9th, 1865.
Below: Samuel Arnold was an old friend of Booth. He was tied to the original Lincoln kidnapping plot and sentenced to life in prison, only to be pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. He died in 1906.
Booth, a staunch Confederate sympathizer, was infuriated by the surrender, and hatched a hastily-cobbled-together plan to assassinate the top three Union men in one fell swoop. His co-conspirators were George Azterodt, who was to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Lewis Powell and David Herold, who were to kill Secretary of State, William Seward.
Below: This man, name unknown, was arrested on suspicion of being a co-conspirator. 
As it turned out, Azterodt didn’t have the nerve to carry out his part of the plot, and spent the night drinking. On the other hand, Powell broke into Seward’s home brandishing a revolver and knife, severely injuring (but failing to kill) the Secretary of State and several others.
Below: George Azterodt was tasked with killing Vice President Andrew Johnson as part of the conspiracy, but backed out at the last minute. He was hanged in July 1865. 
Following the events of that fateful night, a 12-day manhunt for Booth ensured. He was tracked down to a farm in rural Virginia, shot and killed. The failed conspirators, together with many others innocent suspects, were round, imprisoned and put on trial.
Below: David Herold was an accomplice of John Wilkes Booth. He led him on his escape through Virginia. He was hanged on July 7th, 1865.
The photographs you see here were taken aboard the monitor ships, Montauk and Saugus, by Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner. Beginning on April 27th, 1865, the prisoners were photographed contemplating their fates on the vessels’ decks while awaiting trial (some execution).
Below: Michael O'Laughlen was a childhood friend of Booth's and an ex-Confederate soldier. Although it remains unknown what his exact role in the conspiracy was he was sentenced to life in prison and died in 1867. 
Below: Edmund Spangler was a stagehand at Ford's Theater. He was sentenced to six years in prison for aiding Booth on the night of the assassination, however he received a Presidential pardon four years later. 
Below: Lewis Powell was the man tasked with assassinating the Secretary of State, however he failed despite seriously injuring him. He was apprehended three days later. 
Below: More pensive poses from Powell. 
Below: Conspirators Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt are placed in nooses at the Washington Arsenal on July 7th, 1865​.
Below: The rocking chair that President Lincoln sat in at Ford's Theater on the night of his assassination. 
Content and Image Source: Retronaut (Mashable) 
Image Copyright: Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress 
Next Post
Sign Up for Free Daily Posts!