John Wilkes Booth (1838–1865) assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Born into a famous theatrical family in Maryland, Booth began his career as an actor in 1855. He toured the country in various productions for the next ten years. Booth was an outspoken proponent of slavery and briefly left acting to join a Richmond militia unit. He witnessed the execution of radical abolitionist John Brown in 1859. In 1864, he began organizing a group of conspirators with plans to abduct Lincoln. After several failed attempts, Booth took a chance to move against him in April 1865, when Lincoln attended a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. During the third act Booth shot the President in the back of the head. Booth escaped the theater and went into hiding. On April 26, Booth and one of his co-conspirators were trapped by Union forces at a farm in Virginia. The other suspect, David Herold, surrendered, but Booth refused and was shot. He died early the next morning.

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