Lewis Powell, also known as Lewis Payne, who attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward.

Image: Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress

On April 14, 1865, at the climax of a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., actor John Wilkes Booth entered Abraham Lincoln’s private balcony and shot the president in the back of the head. He leaped to the stage below, shouting “Sic semper tyrannis” — “thus always to tyrants” — before fleeing into the night

Booth’s brazen murder of the president was the only successful part of a larger, hastily organized conspiracy to kill the president, vice president and secretary of state simultaneously, with the aim of throwing the Union government into disarray just as the Civil War was ending. Read more…

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1865: Haunting portraits of the Lincoln assassination conspirators