The 16th President of the United States was a man shrouded in mystery...
The end of a war and beginning of a mystery.fameimages
Five days after the Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, marking the end of the Civil War, the first presidential assassination occurred. Before and after Lincoln's death, bizarre events unfolded alongside a nation in mourning.
Six weeks before the assassination, John Wilkes Booth proved how easy it was to get close to the president. March 5, 1865, a photo shows Booth attended Lincoln's inaugural address.
As Lincoln gave one of his most famous speeches, Booth was said to have been lurking around trying to get as close as he could having a crazed look in his eyes.
Brotherly LoveBoothie Barn
A few months before that fateful night at Ford's Theatre, John Wilkes Booth's brother saved Lincoln's son's life. The president's oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was standing on a train platform in New Jersey before a growing crowd of passengers pushed him and he was twisted off his feet by a moving train.
Robert was trapped and helpless only for a brief moment before Edwin Booth quickly grabbed Robert by his collar and pulled him to safety. John and Edwin were both well-known actors at the time, and Robert thanked him by name after immediately knowing who saved his life.
Lincoln Watched Booth Preform At Ford's TheatreLibrary of Congress
John Wilkes Booth's final acting engagement was just a few days before the Gettysburg Address in 1863 with Lincoln in attendance.
Historian Harold Holzer quoted a theatre companion in his book noticing Booth's villainous character seemed to be directing his lines at the president. "He almost seems to be reciting these lines to you," to which Lincoln replied, "He does talk very sharp at me, doesn't he."
Too Little Too LateAmerican Historama
On April 14, 1865, hours before his death, Lincoln signed legislation creating the Secret Service.
Although Lincoln's version was intended to combat widespread currency counterfeiting, it wasn't until 1901 when the Secret Service was assigned to strictly protect the POTUS.
The Secret Service did end up protecting Lincoln's body after they foiled a scheme by a Chicago gang to snatch the president from his tomb. At the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, the president's body was guarded by a single padlock.
The gang planned to steal the corpse for a $200,000 ransom and the release of their best counterfeiter. After the Secret Service infiltrated the operation, the body was quickly entombed under 10 feet of concrete.
On April 11, 1865, President Lincoln gave a speech becoming the first president in American History calling to give voting rights for African-Americans.
On the White House lawn stood John Wilkes Booth who was overheard saying, "That's the last speech he'll ever make." Three nights later, Booth made sure his statement was accurate.
Ulysses S. Grant was supposed to join Lincoln at Ford's Theatre the night of the assassination. Lincoln was reluctant to go since Mary Todd was sick, but after Grant cancelled his appearance, he felt obliged to attend.
Bloody RelicsTechno Buffalo
After being shot in the back of the head, Lincoln quickly compressed his wound. But when Major Henry Rathbone tried to stop John Wilkes Booth from fleeing, Rathbone was slashed with a Bowie knife.
The strike sliced an artery in his arm, and most of the bloodstained relics from that night were not stained with the president's blood.