Print of Currier and Ives (1865)
From left to right: Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth.
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln took place on April 14, 1865 in Washington. The sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, is shot dead as he attends the performance of the play of Tom Taylor, Our American Cousin (French title:. Dundreary Lord Our American Cousin.), Theater Ford with his wife and two guests. The assassin of Lincoln, the actor and sympathizer of the Confederate cause John Wilkes Booth, recruited several accomplices, including Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt, whom he charged with respectively assassinating the Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson. By this triple murder, Booth hopes to create chaos and overthrow the Union government. Despite Lincoln's death, his plot fails: Powell attacks Seward, but Seward recovers from his wounds, and Atzerodt, panicked, fled Washington without seeing Johnson.
The manhunt is organized by the army immediately after the attack. Powell is arrested on April 17 and Atzerodt on the 20th. Booth and one of his accomplices, David Herold, after fleeing the scene, find themselves in Maryland and manage to escape their pursuers until April 26. Surrounded by the army, Herold surrenders, but Booth refuses and is shot. Many suspects are arrested, but finally there are seven men and one woman who are tried by a military court as of May 9, 1865. On June 30, all are convicted by the court, four of them are sentenced of death and executed by hanging, July 7, 1865.
Abraham Lincoln was a country lawyer whose eloquence, recognized by his contemporaries 1 earned him his first electoral mandates in the House of Representatives from Illinois, then to the United States 2. The election of this republican abolitionist to the presidency, in 1860, led to the creation of the Confederate States of America and, shortly thereafter, the American Civil War. Despite initial setbacks, the United States Army, under the command of General Ulysses S. Grant, gained the upper hand. Lincoln wrote in 1863 the proclamation emancipating the slaves and signs the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. In the 1864 presidential election, the Democrats, despite holding a general candidate, George McClellan, campaign for peace between North and South. However, the military situation gives them wrong. In the field, William Tecumseh Sherman walks inexorably on Atlanta and Ulysses S. Grant pushes Robert E. Lee in his last ditches around Richmond 3 . From then on, it becomes clear that the military victory is at hand. The slogan of the campaign of Lincoln and his parcel Andrew Johnson can not be more explicit: "Do not change horses in the middle of a stream" ("Do not change horses in the middle of the ford") 4 . The Americans are not mistaken and re-elect Lincoln.
John Wilkes Booth was a theater actor who has, before the events, with some success and laudatory articles 5. His talent and mental health are not challenged until the conspiracy 5. He began to take an interest in public affairs in the 1850s and joined the party of Know Nothing 6 , the American nativists movement opposing immigration policy to the United States. Booth is also a strong supporter of slavery. In 1859 he is part of a Virginia militia involved in the capture of abolitionist John Brown after his raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry 6. During the war, according to some sources, he worked for the Confederate secret services and even met some of their leaders, Jacob Thompson and Clement Claiborne Clay, in Montreal 6 , 7 . Other sources indicate that there is no evidence of this involvement Confederate secret service, nor a meeting in Montreal 8.
At the beginning of the American Civil War, the federal government refused any negotiations with the South on possible prisoner exchanges, considering that a State could only carry out this type of transaction with another State, while the South would is a region in rebellion. In 1862, however, generals on both sides agreed on terms of exchange 9, which often took place immediately after each battle, 9 and did not encounter any major problems until 1863. From that period, the North more reluctant, for strategic reasons and also because the Confederates refuse to surrender African-American prisoners. Then, when Ulysses S. Grant became Commander-in-Chief of the Union Armies in March 1864, he suspended all exchange of prisoners of war, 10 drying up a source of reinforcement in men whose needs the South badly needs.
That's when John Wilkes Booth develops a plan to kidnap President Lincoln. He imagines to take her to the South as a hostage to force the North to return to its policy of exchange of prisoners 11. To this end, Booth sets up a circle of conspirators, recruiting Samuel Arnold, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Michael O'Laughlen, Lewis Powell and John Surratt. His mother, Mary Surratt, leaves her tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland, and opens a boarding house in Washington, where Booth pays her many visits. The investigators will then discover that this move serves his purpose, as he needs to establish an operational base in the federal capital.
John Surratt, then a Confederate Secret Service agent, is introduced to John Wilkes Booth by Dr. Samuel Mudd on the 6th . Surratt in turn presents Atzerodt, Powell and Herold to Booth. Atzerodt is a former smuggler who helped Confederate agents cross the Potomac during the war. He met John Surratt during one of these clandestine crossings, and it prompted the board that holds his mother Mary in Washington, where he was recruited by Booth 6. Lewis Powell is a very young Confederate soldier. Wounded in Gettysburg, he was captured by Northerners and treated in a military hospital. He managed to flee to Virginia where he joined a Confederate cavalry regiment and was then hired by the Southern Intelligence Service. He was introduced to John Suratt by secret agent David Parr 6 . David Herold was a classmate of John Surratt at the military academy of Charlotte Hall 12. Finally, Michael O'Laughlen and Samuel Arnold are friends and former schoolmates of Booth 13 .
Booth attended the inauguration ceremony of Lincoln's second term on March 4, 1865, as a guest of Lucy Hale, to whom he secretly engaged. It is the daughter of Senator John Parker Hale, who later became United States Ambassador to Spain. Booth later wrote: "What a wonderful opportunity it was, if I had wanted to kill the president during his inauguration 14. On March 17, 1865, Booth informed his accomplices that Lincoln would attend a performance of Still Waters Run Deep 15 at Campbell Military Hospital. He meets his group in a restaurant. The men are instructed to join him in order to ambush the president on his way home from the hospital. Booth will inquire about the evening and return with the news that the president has changed his mind. He went to the National Hotel for a ceremony organized by officers of 142nd Indiana Infantry Regiment . Ironically, Booth then lodges in this same establishment 16 , 17 .
On April 11, 1865, Booth is present as Lincoln delivers a speech to the White House. The President said he supported the idea of giving blacks the right to vote. Furious at this eventuality, Booth abandons his abduction plan and opts for an assassination. He writes, "Now, by God! I will liquidate it. This is the last speech he will make 18 , N 2 . "
Shortly after the failure of the attempted kidnapping, the Confederation is mistreated on the military ground. On April 3, Richmond, capital of the Confederates, is taken by the Union army. On April 9, the Northern Virginia Army, the main Confederate force, surrendered to the Potomac Army after the Battle of Appomattox Court House. Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his government are on the run. Although many southerners have given up hope, Booth continues to believe in the cause, writing in his diary: "Our cause is almost lost, something great and decisive is to be undertaken 19. When he learns that Robert Lee has surrendered, Booth decides to kill the president and some members of the government in order to mourn the celebrations of the northern victory and disrupt the federal administration.
On April 14, around noon, while at the Ford Theater to retrieve his mail, Booth learns that the President and General Grant will attend the performance of Our American Cousin that evening. This is the opportunity he was waiting for. He knows perfectly the places to have worked there several times, the last one in March 1865 20 , 21 . He is convinced that if his accomplices and he kill, at the same time, the President, General Grant, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward, the Union Government will be paralyzed long enough for the Confederation reborn from its ashes.
In the afternoon, Booth goes to Mary Surratt's boarding house. He asks her to send a packet to its Surrattsville tavern in Maryland and to say the manager of this establishment to prepare weapons and ammunition he filed it 22. At seven o'clock in the evening, Booth meets his accomplices. He orders Powell to kill Seward, Atzerodt to kill Johnson and David E. Herold to drive Powell to Seward, then take him out of the walls to join him in Maryland. Booth plans to shoot Lincoln with his derringer at once, then stab General Grant.
Booth entrusted the assassination of Secretary of State William Henry Seward to Lewis Powell. Seward is then bedridden as a result of an accident. On April 5th, he was thrown off his team and suffered a head injury, a double fractured jaw and a broken arm. The doctors improvised a splint to repair his jaw and insisted that he keep the bed at home at Lafayette Park, not far from the White House. Herold drives Powell to Seward's residence. Powell was armed with a revolver Whitney, 1858 model, very common weapon at that time, and a Bowie knife, formidable hunting weapon 23. Powell strikes at the main entrance shortly after ten o'clock; William Bell, Seward's butler, opens it. Powell tells him that he is bringing a medicine for Seward from Dr. Verdi and that he must give it to him personally to show him how to take it. Powell is invited in and climbs the stairs to Seward's room on the third level 24 , 23 , 25 . At the top of the stairs, he is received by the son of the wounded assistant secretary of state Frederick William Seward. Powell repeats his story, but Seward, distrustful of this intruder, shuts him off by saying that his father has fallen asleep.
At that moment, Seward's daughter, Fanny, having heard their conversation, comes out of her father's room and says, "Fred, father is awake now. Then goes back, revealing to Powell where Seward is. Powell descends the stairs four at a time, then goes back up at once, still running, brandishing his revolver, which he points at Frederick's head. He squeezes the trigger, but the shot does not go away. Taken aback, he hit Frederick in the head with his weapon several times and it eventually collapsed. Fanny, wondering what all the noise means, opens the door again and sees her brother lying on the ground bleeding. Powell rushes over her, pushes her past Seward into bed, stabbing her face and neck. He reaches the cheek but the splint saves Seward's life, stopping the knife before it touches the jugular vein 26 , 27 . Sergeant George P. Robinson, who was with the injured as a nurse, and Augustus Seward, another son of the Secretary of State, who slept in his room and was awakened by the cries of his sister, are trying to grab from Powell. Outside, Herold, who has also heard Fanny's screams, got scared and fled, abandoning Powell 28.
William H. Seward rolled off his bed and lay on the ground, out of reach of Powell who then stabs Robinson, Augustus and Fanny. When Augustus, still valid, returns with his pistol, Powell runs down the stairs and runs to door 29 . As he opens it, he falls on a messenger, Emerick Hansell, who came with a telegram to Seward. Powell stabs him in his turn and, rushing outside, exclaims, "I'm crazy! I'm crazy ! Then he unties his horse from the tree where Herold had left it and goes off at a gallop, alone 30 .
Fanny Seward exclaims, "Oh, my God, father is dead! Sergeant Robinson lifts the Secretary of State and puts him back on his bed. Seward spits blood and says, "I'm not dead; call a doctor and the police! Close the doors! 31 His wounds are impressive, but Powell's shots did not touch any vital part.
Booth instructed George Atzerodt to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson at Kirkwood Hotel in Washington. Atzerodt must come to his room at quarter past ten ET to shoot 32. On April 14, Atzerodt took room 126 at Kirkwood, just above Johnson's. He arrives at the hotel and goes to the bar. He has a revolver and a knife on him. Atzerodt inquires from bartender Michael Henry about the Vice President's habits. After spending a long time at the bar, he leaves, drunk, wandering the streets of Washington. Nervous, he throws his knife in a street. He arrives at the Pennsylvania House Hotel around two o'clock, renting a room there and falling asleep 33 , 34 . Thus aborts the assassination attempt of the vice president and any hope of destabilization of the regime.
Earlier in the day, Booth stopped at the Kirkwood Hotel and left a note for Andrew Johnson: "I do not want to disturb you. Are you at home? [signed] J. Wilkes Booth 24 . "After the attack, this message was interpreted in many ways 35. One of the theories is that Booth, fearing that Atzerodt would not succeed in killing Johnson, or worried that he simply did not have the courage to kill him, wanted by this message to try to implicate the vice-president. president in the conspiracy 36 .
Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln prepare to attend the performance of Tom Taylor's play Our American Cousin 20 . Contrary to information that Booth had read in the newspapers, General Grant and his wife declined the invitation of Lincoln 37. Several other personalities were invited and it finally Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris (daughter of senator Ira Harris) who joined the presidential couple 38.
The president and the first lady arrive at the Ford Theater after the show has started. They were detained at the White House by Missouri Senator John B. Henderson who successfully argued for a presidential pardon in favor of George SE Vaughn, convicted of spying for the Confederates and sentenced to death. This grace is the last official act of Lincoln 39 . The Lincoln spouses win the presidential box and the show stops briefly to mark their arrival which is applauded by the spectators.
The lodge is supposed to be guarded by police officer John Frederick Parker, a bodyguard assigned to Lincoln although this choice is curious, this policeman having been the subject of numerous reminders to the order for faults and infractions to the discipline 40 . During intermission, Parker left for a drink at the neighboring tavern with the coachman of the Lincoln sedan. It is not known whether he returned to the theater later, but he is certainly not at his post when Booth enters box 41 .
Around nine o'clock on April 14, 1865, Booth arrived at the entrance of the artists, where he held the reins of his horse to a machinist named Edmund Spangler. Spangler, busy, asks Joseph Burroughs to take care of the mount. Known employees and familiar places, Booth enters the antechamber of the presidential box and locks the door 42. At this moment, Mrs. Lincoln murmurs to her husband who is holding her hand: "What will Mademoiselle Harris think that I hold your hand like this? "The president replied:" She did not think anything 43. These are the last words Abraham Lincoln utters. It is about quarter past ten.
Booth is familiar with the play being played on the stage and is waiting for the moment when, in Act III, Scene 2 44 , the actor Harry Hawk, who plays the role of Asa Trenchard, the cousin of America a little boorish but friendly, will say its fact to the unbearable Mrs Mountchessington who poses, haughty, to the great English lady: the outspokenness of Asa Trenchard, his strong popular and very American accent always unleash the joy and hilarity of the public whose hubbub will cover the detonation. As Hawk exclaims, "What, I do not know the ways of good society? But I think I know enough to tell you your four truths, my old friend! You old man of a manipulative man! "N 3, Booth rushes and pulls the head of the President 45. Mortally wounded, Lincoln collapses in his seat. Rathbone rises and leaps to prevent Booth from escaping, but he gives him a violent stab in arm 46 . Rathbone quickly pulls himself together and tries to grab Booth as he prepares to step over the railing of the box. Booth hits him again and jumps onto the stage. Rathbone quickly straightened up in his seat and grabbed Booth's coat as he was about to jump from the edge of the box. Booth fell on the rail of the box down to the bottom floor (about a twelve-foot drop). In the process, his riding spur got entangled on the treasure box decoration flag, and he landed awkwardly on his left foot, fractured the left fibula, just above the ankle. He manages to get up and, brandishing his knife, he exclaims: "Sic semper tyrannis! 47 , 48 the Latin motto of Virginia which means "So are there always tyrants!" According to other versions, he adds: "The South is avenged! "49 It then runs to the scene and returned to the door through which he entered the theater and where his horse awaits. Some spectators chase after him but fail to catch him. Booth strikes Joseph Burroughs in the forehead with the handle of his dagger, jumps on his horse and runs away. He gallops to the Navy Yard Bridge, which crosses Anacostia, and to his appointment with Herold and Powell.
The screams of Mary Lincoln and Clara Harris, and the cry of Rathbone: "Stop this man! " 50 make the audience understand that all this agitation is not part of the show. Charles Leale, a young military surgeon on leave who attends the performance, crosses the crowd and goes to the presidential box. The door does not open and Rathbone realizes she is blocked by a piece of wood. He removes the hold and opens Leale 51 .
Leale enters and discovers that Rathbone is bleeding profusely from a deep wound running down his forearm. He does not stop at him and advances directly to Lincoln slumped in his seat and restrained by Mary. Lincoln was paralyzed and barely breathing. He extends the chair on the floor. A second doctor, who was also among the public, Charles Sabin Taft, is hoisted from the stage over the guardrail of the box. Taft and Leale cut off Lincoln's collar and open his shirt, then Leale feels it and discovers the wound left by the bullet in the back of the skull near his left ear. A clot comes out and the breathing is improved 52 . However, Leale understood that this improvement is only temporary. He exclaims, "His wound is mortal. It will be impossible for him to heal. 53
Leale, Taft and another doctor, named Albert King, consult quickly and decide that the president can not be brought back to the White House on a hitching hitch. After considering taking him to Peter Taltavull's saloon nearby, they decided to take him to a house facing the theater. The three doctors and some soldiers who attended the show carried the president to the entrance. On the other side of the street, a man holds a lantern and says to them, "Bring him here! Bring him here! This is Henry Safford, a boarder at the William Petersen boarding house opposite the Theater 54 . The men carry Lincoln in the boarding house and lay him on the bed of a room on the first floor, Lincoln falls into a coma after being put on the bed 55 , 56 .
The wake of the wounded begins at the Petersen House. The three doctors were joined by US Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, Major Charles Henry Crane, Dr. Anderson Ruffin Abbott and Dr. Robert K. Stone. Crane is the assistant of Barnes and Stone the personal physician of Lincoln. The sons of the president, Robert and Thomas Lincoln, join them, as well as the secretary to the Navy Gideon Welles and the secretary of the war Edwin M. Stanton.
As Mary Lincoln cries in one of the lounges, Stanton moves into another and takes over the United States government, sending and receiving telegrams, reading witness testimony, and organizing the Booth 57 prosecution. Nothing can be done for the President: at seven twenty-two on the morning of April 15, Lincoln dies, aged 56, 2 months and 3 days. All kneel around the bed and pray. When they get up, Stanton says, "Now he belongs to the ages. ("Now it belongs to eternity.") 58 There is controversy among historians about the words Stanton utters at this moment. All agree on the beginning: "Now he belongs to the …", but some say he ends with " ages " (to eternity) while others think he ends his sentence with " angels "(to angels) 59 .
Booth jumped on his horse and left at full gallop. In half an hour, he reached the Navy Yard Bridge and left the city for Maryland 60 . Herold passes the same bridge less than an hour later 61 and joins Booth 62 . After the weapons and provisions that await them Surattsville, Herold and Booth go to the doctor Samuel Mudd, a doctor, who diagnosed a broken leg Booth sets him a splint and gives him a pair of crutches 63.
The two fugitives spend a day at Mudd then ask a man to lead them to the house of Colonel Samuel Cox, Southern sympathizer of the cause 64. Cox hides them in his Rich Hill farm and organizes their escape to Virginia. On April 21, Thomas A. Jones, Colonel milk brother, provides a small boat to the fugitives to cross the Potomac 65.
Booth and Herold remain on the run until April 26, when the army discovers them in the farm of a man named Richard Garrett. The Garrett locked Booth and Herold in their barn. Herold went to the soldiers arrived, but Booth refused to leave 66. The troop fires on building 67 . The soldier Boston Corbett sneaks from behind and pulls Booth who was hit in the throat collapses and 68. It is taken from the barn, a soldier gives him a sip of water, and Booth declares: "Tell my mother that I died for my country! 69 He dies lying on the porch of the Garrett Farm, two hours after being hit. His last words are: "Useless! - useless! ("Useless, useless!") 24 , 70 .
Powell knows Washington very badly and, without the help of his guide David Herold, he roams the streets for three days before returning on April 17 the house of Surratt, which detectives already occupy. He claims to be a "man of pain" hired by Mary Surratt, but she denies knowing it. They were both arrested 71. Atzerodt hid on a farm in Georgetown, but was taken there on April 20, 72 . The other conspirators, with the exception of John Surratt, are apprehended before the end of the month. The latter managed to flee to Europe then Africa, before being finally captured in November 1866. Surratt was later tried for the murder of Lincoln, but a witness claims to have seen him in Elmira in the state of New York 73 the day of the attack. The jury does not reach a verdict: Surratt is acquitted and will live at liberty until his death in 1916 74 .
In the chaos that follows the assassination, dozens of alleged accomplices are arrested and thrown into prison. Anyone who is suspected of having anything to do with the package or who has had any contact with Booth or Herold during their flight is put behind bars. Among those who are incarcerated:
- Louis J. Weichmann, resident of Mrs. Surratt. Weeks earlier he informed the War Department of the plot to kidnap the president. After being released, he became the main prosecution witness at the trial 75.
- John M. Lloyd, the drunk innkeeper who rented Mrs. Surratt's tavern in Maryland and gave Booth and Herold rifles and food when they fled.
- Samuel Cox and Thomas A. Jones, both Confederate sympathizers, who hid and helped Booth and Herold for a week 78.
These eight suspects, by decision of President Johnson, are tried by a military court. The choice of this jurisdiction is provoking criticism from United States Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and former United States Attorney General Edward Bates that the case is a civil court case. The United States Attorney General James Speed justifies it by the military nature of the conspiracy and by the fact that Washington is then placed under the regime of martial law (in 1866, in Ex parte Milligan the United States Supreme Court prohibits the use of military tribunals to try civilians in places where civil courts are operational 83 ). The jury is composed of general and superior officers. Guilt requires a simple majority, a death sentence of two-thirds, which limits the chances of the accused. In addition, they can appeal the court decision only from the president Johnson 84.
The verdict on June 30 declares all the accused guilty. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold and George Atzerodt are sentenced to death by hanging. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold and Michael O'Laughlen are sentenced to life imprisonment. Mudd narrowly escapes death, the jury having rejected the death sentence by five votes to four. Edmund Spangler is sentenced to six years' imprisonment. Paradoxically, after having sentenced Mary Surratt to hang, five of the jurors signed a letter recommending clemency, but President Johnson refused the pardon. He will later claim to have never received the letter 88 .
Surratt, Powell, Herold and Atzerodt are hanged at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary on July 7, 1865 89 . Mary Surratt is the first woman to be executed by the US government 90 . O'Laughlen dies in prison of yellow fever in 1867. Mudd, Arnold and Spangler are under a presidential pardon in February 1869 91.
Dr. Samuel Mudd's degree of guilt has been a controversial subject since his death. Some, including his grandson, Richard Mudd, claim he was innocent of any charge and that he was only imprisoned for providing care to a man who came to his house late at night with a broken leg A century after the assassination, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan presidents have both written to Richard Mudd to express their belief that his grandfather was innocent 92. However, some writers such as Edward Steers, Jr. and James Swanson, note that Samuel Mudd met Booth three times before the fact: first in November 1864 when Booth, seeking help for his kidnapping project, was directed to Mudd by agents of the Confederate Secret Service, then in December when Booth spent a night under his roof, finally while, the same month, Mudd goes to Washington and presents Booth to a confederate agent of his acquaintance, John Surratt. In addition, George Atzerodt testified that Booth sent material to Mudd during the preparation for the kidnapping. Finally, Mudd lied to the authorities who came to investigate his home after the assassination, claiming that they did not recognize the man who had come for treatment, and giving information about the destination to which Booth and Herold had gone to. then directed which proved to be false 93 , 94 . He had also hidden in his attic the boot bearing Booth's monogram that he had cut to put the splint. A search of her home was then to find her. These elements lead to the hypothesis that Dr. Mudd was involved in the abduction project. Il aurait été choisi par les conspirateurs afin de pouvoir prodiguer des soins à Lincoln au cas où ce dernier aurait été blessé. Se souvenant de lui, Booth se serait rendu chez le médecin le 15 avril pour qu'il s'occupe de sa jambe blessée 95 , 96 .
Abraham Lincoln est le premier président américain à être assassiné. Parfois controversé au cours de ses quatre difficiles années de pouvoir dans une Amérique divisée, Lincoln est considéré dès après sa mort comme un martyr et un héros de l'histoire des États-Unis et souvent comparé à George Washington 97 . Des millions de gens sont présents lors de la procession funèbre à Washington, le 19 avril 1865 98 . Le 21 avril, la dépouille mortelle du président est emmenée en train sur un parcours de 2 700 km. Le convoi s'arrête à Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphie, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis et Chicago avant d'atteindre, le 3 mai, la ville d'Abraham Lincoln, Springfield dans l'Illinois 99 . Tout au long du trajet, ce sont à nouveau des millions d'Américains qui se recueillent sur son passage 100 .
La tentative de déstabilisation du gouvernement de l'Union a échoué. Dans les semaines qui suivent la mort de Lincoln, les principaux chefs sudistes se rendent les uns après les autres. Le 26 avril 1865, le général Joseph E. Johnston se livre au général William Tecumseh Sherman. Deux mois plus tard, le 23 juin 1865 a lieu l'ultime reddition, celle du général de brigade Stand Watie. L'assassinat de Lincoln aura finalement prouvé la stabilité des institutions des États-Unis, jusqu'au cœur d'une crise majeure.
Andrew Johnson a prêté serment peu après la mort de Lincoln. Il va devenir l'un des présidents les plus impopulaires de l'histoire des États-Unis 101 . La Chambre des Représentants vote son impeachment en 1868, mais il est sauvé par le Sénat qui a une voix près refuse la procédure 102 . William Seward se remet de ses blessures et continue sa tâche de secrétaire d'État pendant toute la présidence de Johnson. L'histoire américaine se souvient de lui comme de l'homme qui négocie en 1867 l'achat de l'Alaska avec la Russie.
John Thomson Ford tente de rouvrir son théâtre quelques mois après le drame, mais il s'ensuit une vague d'indignation telle qu'il se voit contraint d'y renoncer. En 1866, le gouvernement fédéral lui rachète le bâtiment, en réorganise l'agencement interne pour le transformer en immeuble de bureaux. En 1893, cette structure s'effondre, tuant 22 employés. Il est ensuite utilisé comme entrepôt, puis reste inoccupé jusqu'à sa restauration. Le théâtre Ford rouvre en 1968, à la fois comme musée et comme salle de spectacle. Toutefois, la loge présidentielle n'est jamais plus occupée 103 . La Petersen House est achetée en 1896 par le gouvernement pour en faire un mémorial. De nos jours, le théâtre Ford et la Petersen House sont gérés par le Ford's Theatre National Historic Site .
L'association du Lincoln Monument , dont le but est la création d'un mémorial dédié au président, est agréée par le Congrès des États-Unis en mars 1867 104 . Ce n'est qu'en 1901 qu'un site lui est dédié, sur une parcelle qui n'est alors qu'une zone marécageuse de Washington 104 , et se trouve aujourd'hui dans le West Potomac Park. Le Congrès donne son accord formel à l'érection du mémorial le 9 février 1911. La première pierre est posée le jour anniversaire de la naissance de Lincoln, le 12 février 1914 105 . Les travaux sont toutefois retardés en raison de la Première Guerre mondiale et ce n'est que le 30 mai 1922 qu'est inauguré le Lincoln Memorial conçu par Henry Bacon 105 . Ouvert au public depuis lors, il a reçu 4,7 millions de visiteurs en 2008 106 . Londres abrite également une tour en mémoire d'Abraham Lincoln, la Lincoln Memorial Tower 107 .
L'émoi provoqué par l'assassinat de Lincoln a marqué durablement la conscience collective américaine. Outre son évocation dans de nombreuses œuvres littéraires, il a beaucoup inspiré les cinéastes, parmi lesquels :
- The Toll of War (1913) de Francis Ford, Naissance d'une nation (1915) de DW Griffith et The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln (1924) de Phil Rosen, qui sont sans doute les premiers films retraçant la vie et l'assassinat du président.
- The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977), film de James L. Conway dont l'intrigue se fonde sur l'hypothèse que l'assassinat était une conspiration de grande ampleur impliquant des membres du gouvernement, et que l'homme tué à la ferme des Garrett n'est pas Booth.
- Benjamin Gates et le Livre des secrets (2007), film de Jon Turteltaub où reparaît une page perdue du journal de Booth et qui commence par l'assassinat de Lincoln.
- La Conspiration (2011) de Robert Redford. Dans ce film consacré à l'assassinat d'Abraham Lincoln et le procès militaire qui s'ensuit, Robert Redford se focalise sur les conséquences d'un meurtre politique et sur le sort de Mary Surratt accusée de complicité pour avoir hébergé l'auteur du crime, John Wilkes Booth. Un jeune avocat, Frederick Aiken accepte de défendre Mary Surratt. Il prend alors conscience que sa cliente pourrait être innocente et n'être qu'un appât dans le but de capturer le seul conspirateur qui ait échappé à une redoutable chasse à l'homme : son propre fils.
Lincoln était à son époque l'un des hommes d'État qui s'intéressaient le moins à la musique, incapable qu'il était de lire une partition, de jouer d'un instrument ou même de chanter 108 . Pourtant, une symphonie N 5 , des requiems N 6 ainsi que des œuvres chorales N 7 ont été dédiées à sa mémoire 108 . En 2008, Eric Sawyer et John Shoptaw présentèrent même la première de leur opéra Our American Cousin qui retrace les événements entourant l'assassinat de Lincoln, vus par les yeux des acteurs et du public le soir de l'attentat 109 .
- Les derniers jours d'Abraham Lincoln (Lincolns letzter Tag), de Wilfried Hauke (2009) : Documentaire en deux épisodes qui retrace la dernière journée d'Abraham Lincoln ainsi que la traque de John Wilkes Booth, entrecoupé de flashbacks sur sa carrière.
À la suite de l'assassinat de John F. Kennedy le GOP Congressional Committee Newsletter a lancé une légende urbaine sous forme de comparaisons entre l'assassinat de Lincoln et celui de Kennedy et en y trouvant plusieurs coïncidences. Coïncidences relayées par plusieurs médias et dont certains auteurs, comme Jonathan C. Smith, ont montré le caractère aléatoire.