Manhunt for Booth
After he murdered President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth was nowhere to be found. Where did he go?
Booth’s meticulous planning for his getaway worked, but only for so long. The most wanted man in the United States, with a $100,000 reward on his head, evaded capture for 12 days. Booth escaped out the back door of Ford’s Theatre. He jumped onto a rented horse he had left there and rode frantically out of Washington. Booth made his way into Maryland, where he met up with David Herold. Where did the two go next? How did investigators learn of their whereabouts? Follow their trail below.
Collecting Evidence: Testimony
Conduct Your Own Investigation
As you look at each testimony, consider:
- How does this evidence match—or not—with other evidence? Who gave the testimony?
- What might the person’s motives be for saying what they did?
- When did this person give the testimony? Was it soon after the event? Much later? How might that affect what they said?
The Night of the Assassination
Follow John Wilkes Booth and David Herold as they tried to escape justice.
What happened when John Wilkes Booth stepped into Ford's Theatre?
On the morning of April 14, 1865 (Good Friday), actor John Wilkes Booth learned President Abraham Lincoln would attend a performance of the comedy Our American Cousin that night at Ford’s Theatre—a theatre Booth frequently performed at. He realized his moment had arrived.
The Trial of the Conspirators
What happened to the conspirators after they were caught?
For seven weeks in May and June 1865, the nation’s attention was riveted on the third floor of Washington’s Old Arsenal Penitentiary (now Fort McNair), where John Wilkes Booth’s conspirators were on trial for their lives.
Teaching Lincoln’s Assassination and Legacy
Are you looking to teach the Lincoln assassination?
We offer ready-to-use history lesson plans focused on how to teach President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the Civil War.
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