• Weird History

What Happened Right After Lincoln Was Assassinated?

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in April of 1865. The Abraham Lincoln assassination was set in motion earlier that year by Booth and some of his co-conspirators, who blamed Lincoln for the Confederacy's surrender at Appomattox. Initially, Booth planned to kidnap the President but later changed his mind to kill the man.

On the evening of April 14, 1865, Lincoln, his wife, current Secretary of State William H. Seward, and an audience of people were seated in Ford's Theater watching the play Our American Cousin. At 10:25 pm, Booth burst into the President's private box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. He then stabbed Seward three times in the throat and jumped onto the stage and fled. Lincoln was examined by doctors and then taken across the street to a room in the Petersen House where he died on April 15, 1865 at 7:22 am. 

The after effects of Lincoln's assassination were immediate. People in the North mourned the loss of their leader, while some in the South rejoiced - and paid a hefty price for doing so. A ripple effect spread through the country over the next few years. Some triumphed in the wake of Lincoln's assassination, while others were left to pick up the pieces of the presidency and mourn. Here's a look into the ramifications of that momentous event.

  • Photo: T. B. H. Stenson / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Some In The South Rejoiced, Triggering The Wrath Of Northern Soldiers

    As expected, some Americans in the South were thrilled to hear that Lincoln had been assassinated. Still reeling from their loss in the Civil War, they were even more upset their way of life had changed so drastically. When word broke that Lincoln was dead, some threw parties and practically danced in the street.

    Of course, there were some northern sympathizers among them, including Union troops who still occupied the area. These people were genuinely upset at hearing of the President's passing. A few soldiers rounded up some of the gleeful Southerners and tarred and feathered them. Others were also beaten to death or shot in the streets. Most, however, were just rounded up and arrested for their uncouth rejoicing.

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Lincoln's Body Made 180 Stops On Its Way To Burial In Illinois For People To Pay Their Respects

    "The Lincoln Special" was the nickname for the funeral train that transported Lincoln's body across the US to its final burial location in Springfield, Illinois. Before this final journey began, the body of Lincoln's son, 11-year-old Willie who had died of typhoid fever in 1862, was disinterred and placed in a coffin on the train. The train made its way through seven states and stopped in 180 different cities.

    In each location, Lincoln's coffin was removed from the train and placed in the nearest town hall, where mourners lined up to say "goodbye" to the man. In one location - Philadelphia - people waited in line for up to five hours. When the train procession reached Springfield, both Lincoln and his son were buried in the family plot. 

  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Mary Surratt Became The First Woman Executed By The US Government

    Not only was John Wilkes Booth hunted down by military forces, but his co-conspirators were as well. One of them was Mary Surratt, who famously owned the Washington D.C. boardinghouse where Booth and his men planned out Lincoln's assassination. She was arrested on April 17, 1865, and swiftly imprisoned. She disavowed any knowledge of the assassination plot, but was tired and convicted of conspiracy.

    The jury voted for the death penalty, but recommended leniency due to her age and gender. She was hung to death anyway on July 7, 1865, alongside several other co-conspirators, George Atzerodt, Lewis Powell, and David Herold. With this, Surratt became the first woman officially executed by the US. government. 

  • Black People Had Very Limited Freedoms After The Loss Of Such A Huge Ally

    Under new President Andrew Johnson and his weak plans for Reconstruction, southern states quickly passed a series of laws known as the Black Codes in 1865 and 1866. These laws forced the now-freed slaves to live restricted lives. They had to sign yearly labor contracts in order to work, they weren't allowed to hold any job other than that of a farmer or servant, and if they were caught violating the laws, they were forced to work on plantations as unpaid laborers. On a slightly more positive note, they were allowed to marry freely and own property. These laws eventually led to the Jim Crow laws that persisted up until the 1960s.