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The End of Honest Abe


A collection of busts of ABe Lincoln

How easy is it to shoot the president? These days, you cannot get within a mile of Bill Clinton without being thoroughly checked out by Secret Service agents. Back in the 1800s, there was no Secret Service, but guns were not nearly as readily available as they are today.

Imagine this: The United States is having a huge argument over what to do with oil in Alaska. Some people want to take the oil from Alaska and use it. Other people are worried that taking the oil would be dangerous for the plants and animals of Alaska (getting oil is really messy). The President of the United States thinks we should not worry about plants or animals. He thinks that the oil is more important.


Car for Sale!

Now actor Brad Pitt is an outdoors type of guy, and doesn't want to see Alaska come to any harm. So he comes up with a plan. The president is going to attend the movie opening for Brad's next big film "Adventures in Alaska". Brad knows that since he is the star of the movie, no secret service agents will check his clothes for guns. No on ewould think that Brad would have a gun. So he hides a small gun in his pocket and goes into the theater. Because he is the star, he gets a seat right behind the President of the United States. Right during the big ending of the film, when Brad's character saves the girl from the bad guy, the crowd jumps up and starts clapping. At that same moment Brad shoots the President.

This sounds pretty crazy, right? This event actually happened in 1865. The setting was different; the shooting took place in a theater in downtown Washington, D.C. The handsome young actor who killed the president was named John Wilkes Booth. The President who died was Abraham Lincoln.

Many Southerners wanted to see the one man they felt was responsible for their loss of the Civil War, pay. Powerful plantation owners, slave owners, businessmen and politicians wanted Abe Lincoln dead.

John Wilkes Booth was a 26-year old famous actor who hated the North and its leader Abraham Lincoln. He was seated just behind Lincoln and had a small gun that he used to shoot the President. After that, Booth, jumped on a horse and wasn't found for twelve days. When he was, the officials shot him dead.

Lincoln was carried over to a house across the street from the theater and placed in the main bedroom. For two days he suffered before finally dying on the morning of April 16th, 1865.

Nick in front of the bed where Lincoln died

Many thousands of people were killed during the Civil War. Lincoln's death was the most famous, and showed Americans how dangerous being President can be.


Please email me at: teddy@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Rebecca - General Sherman mows down the South
Neda - Harriet Tubman goes to war