Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered

Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered


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Lincoln Shot So begins this intimate portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Conceived as a one year anniversary edition of a newspaper, dated April 14, 1866, strongly evocative of the time and the nation's mood. The moment-by-moment recital of the events of the day that ended in assassination holds readers enthralled awaiting the tragic end. The account of the flight, capture, and hanging of some of the conspirators is riveting.

From there, Denenberg moves to the log cabin in Kentucky and Lincoln's life unfolds. The boy, the man, the husband and the father is portrayed as a trifle clumsy, often unsure of himself, and plagued by dark moods. Denenberg's Lincoln is ambitious and modest. He struggles with his role as leader as the Civil War nears.

In the third part of the book, the year-by-year account of the Civil War is seen through Lincoln's eyes. Every defeat and every victory deepens his struggle and resolve.

Award-winning artist Christopher Bing evokes an 1866 newspaper with pen-and-ink scenes from Lincoln's life: Lincoln wrestling Jack Armstrong, Lincoln taking vows with Mary Todd, Grant and Lee at Appomattox, and Booth shooting Lincoln.

Rich Deas, book designer, has folded Bing's art and sourced archival images into layouts that are undistinguishable for 1866 newspaper design. Every facet of design, from frames to advertisements, has been exactingly molded to evoke the era.

The oversized vertical trim underscores the newspaper look and feel. Meticulously researched and exquisitely designed, Lincoln Shot is a uniquely inviting and accessible tribute to Lincoln, whose birth bicentennial is February 12, 2009.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312604424
Publisher: Square Fish
Publication date: 12/20/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 96
Sales rank: 593,911
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Barry Denenberg's biographies have garnered excellent reviews. He won a Jefferson Cup Honor Award for When Will This Cruel War Be Over?: The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson (Dear America, 1996). The Jefferson Cup is awarded by the Virginia Library Association's Children's and Young Adult Round Table. It honors a distinguished biography, historical fiction or American history book for young people. Mr. Denenberg lives in New York state.

Christopher Bing won a 2001 Caldecott Honor Award for Casey at the Bat, the classic 1888 poem. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere was called "an impressive volume" (PW). In a starred review, Booklist termed it "a remarkable visual interpretation of Longfellow's classic poem." Mr. Bing lives in Massachusetts.

Rich Deas is an Art Director, designer, and illustrator with a strong focus on book design. He has created hundreds of book covers. Mr. Deas lives in New Jersey.

Read an Excerpt



By Barry Denenberg
Feiwel And Friends
Copyright © 2008

Barry Denenberg
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-312-37013-8

Chapter One PRESIDENT DIES AT 7:22


Evil Deed Creates Sea Of Sorrow Across The Land



All Roads Watched, Arrests Imminent


Hundreds Of Suspects In Custody-Prisons Overwhelmed

General Grant Ordered Back To Defend Washington



Special to the National News (Original article appeared Sat. morning April 15, 1865)

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, was shot by a lone gunman at approximately 10:15 PM last night. He is not expected to live.

The president, Mrs. Lincoln, and their guests Maj. Rathbone and his fiancée were watching Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater when the heinous crime was committed. Gen. and Mrs. Grant were expected to accompany the president and it is not known at this time why were absent.

Sometime earlier, John Wilkes Booth, the actor whose face was familiar to and players at Ford's, entered the building. At approximately 10:15, while the third act was in progress, Booth handed his calling card to the White House valet and was admitted into the president's box.

The Washington policeman assigned to guard the president had inexplicably left his post. His precise whereabouts during the dastardly attack are not known at this time. There are unconfirmed reports that he had a record of drunkenness, insubordination, and conduct unbecoming an officer.

Booth shot President Lincoln in the back of the head at point-blank range with a .44 caliber, single-shot, derringer pistol. Most of the 1,700 patrons did not hear the shot because of the laughter elicited by the particular scene being played out on the stage. Even those who did hear something believed it to be part of the plot and not the infinitely more tragic one unfolding in the box above.

After shooting the president, Booth stabbed Maj. Rathbone with a large hunting knife and vaulted over the railing on to the stage twelve feet below. He rose up holding the knife menacingly aloft and, according to some, shouted in Latin "sic semper tyrannis"-"thus ever to tyrants." The evil assassin then dashed off the stage and made his way to the alley where he mounted a getaway horse that was being held for him by an accomplice and galloped into the night.

The president was unconscious and very near death. A doctor who was in attendance examined the wound and stated that it was fatal. He judged that transporting his gravely wounded patient back to the White House would be unwise. With help from those who had gathered about he carried the president down the stairs, through the lobby, and onto 10th Street, where the crowd was cleared by soldiers. One of the residents of a boardinghouse facing the theater cried out "bring him in here."

At 11 PM Secy. of War Edwin Stanton arrived and took complete charge of the situation. The Secy. was already aware that simultaneously with the attack on the president, Secy. of State William Seward had been assailed in his home and seriously injured by a madman who wounded several members of the household in a bloody rampage. The assailant was finally beaten off and fled. His identity and whereabouts are unknown at this time.

Secy. Stanton contacted Gen. Grant:

War Department, Washington April 14 midnight (sent 12:20 PM)

To Lieut. Gen, US GRANT On the night train to Burlington

The President was assassinated at Ford's Theater at 10:30 tonight & cannot live. The wound is a Pistol shot through the head. Secretary Seward & his son Frederick, were also assassinated at their residences & are in dangerous condition. The Secretary of War desires that you return to Washington immediately. Please answer on receipt of this.

The president never regained consciousness, was paralyzed, had a very weak pulse and had great difficulty breathing. By 6 AM his condition had worsened and by 7:22 AM he was dead.


Exclusive Report (Original article appeared Sun. evening, April 16, 1865)

On Friday morning, April 14, 1865, the president awoke at 7 AM, lit a fire, worked on some papers, and read the newspaper. Mrs. Lincoln and their son Robert joined him in the family dining room for breakfast. Robert and his father talked over his plans to resume his law studies.

At eleven the president met with the cabinet, including Gen. G ant. Many cabinet members noted the neat appearance the usually quite disheveled president made and his generally relaxed demeanor. They attributed these changes to the terrible burden of the war being lifted at long last from his shoulders.

After the meeting Gen. Grant informed the president that he and Mrs. Grant were going to visit their children in New Jersey and would not, as previously agreed, be able to accompany him and Mrs. Lincoln to the theater. It is well known that Mrs. Grant disliked Mrs. Lincoln: this was possibly an additional reason for their decision not to go to the theater.

Having no time for lunch the president made do with an apple and, as usual, visited the telegraph office in the War Department, issued pardons, and met with people. He also gave some visitors lemons from the tree he recently received as a gift.

At 3:00 PM he and Mary went for a carriage ride, as was their custom. Mary was pleased to see how cheerful her husband was. He said that: "We must be more cheerful in the future; between the war and the loss of our darling Willie, we have been very miserable."

He talked about his plans for the future, which included traveling to California and Europe. The president was looking forward to returning to his law practice in Springfield, Illinois, at the end of his term.

They returned to the White House at five, where the president had still more meetings and paperwork to confront.

At six he had dinner with the family. Mary had one of her headaches and suggested that they stay home. This appealed to her husband, who was tired to the bone. But he thought he had a better chance at getting some peace and quiet at the theater than he would at the always tumultuous White House. He felt obliged to go since his appearance had been announced already in the newspaper and he didn't want to disappoint people.

The president and Mrs. Lincoln entered their carriage at a little after eight, picked up Maj. Rathbone and Miss Harris, and arrived at Ford's Theater at eight-thirty.

The play, which had already begun, was halted as President Lincoln was greeted with a standing ovation while the orchestra played "'Hail to the Chief." He smiled, acknowledged the warm greeting, and settled into the rocking chair that had been put there for him.

Behind that rocking chair, in the shadows, the assassin lurked.


(Original article appeared Sat. morning, April 22, 1865)

John Wilkes Booth was born in 1838 not far from Baltimore, Maryland. He was the next to the youngest of ten children but was, from the very first, his mother's favorite. His father, a mentally unstable alcoholic, was a famous actor as was John's older brother. When he was seventeen Booth made his acting debut and became known for his athletic style which featured great leaps and flamboyant sword fights.

Exotically handsome with curly black hair, an attractive mustache, and penetrating hazel eyes, Booth was as popular with the ladies as he was with audiences. Vain, stylish, moody and undisciplined Booth, like his father, was known to drink more than his share.

It appears that Booth, who was an outspoken advocate of slavery from an early age, had been plotting to kidnap the president of the United States since October 1864. The charismatic and persuasive actor was able to recruit a number of willing accomplices. Operating out of a Washington hotel, Booth funded the extensive operation with his considerable acting income.

Booth intended to take the president forcibly to Richmond where he would be exchanged for captured Confederate soldiers being held in Northern prisons. Booth speculated that this ungodly act might even throw the entire government into chaos and, somehow, lead to Southern independence.

On March 4, 1865, Booth was present during Lincoln's second inauguration ceremony. He saw how exposed the president could be at times.

Two weeks later he and the others attempted to kidnap President Lincoln at gunpoint, but their plans went awry when the president's itinerary changed and Lincoln was not where Booth thought he would be. There is also evidence that Booth planned to kidnap Lincoln from Ford's' Theater by tying him with a rope and lowering him to the stage.

In early April, when Union troops marched into the Confederate capital and, days later, the main rebel army surrendered, Booth realized that kidnapping would serve no useful purpose. Angered at the South's defeat and wanting, as always, to make a name for himself in the history books Booth began to consider killing, rather than kidnapping, the president.

On April 11, President Lincoln, standing in the window of the White House balcony, delivered a carefully considered speech about allowing blacks to vote. Booth, in the crowd on the lawn below, was enraged by this and vowed it would be the last speech the president would make.

Three days later, at noon on Friday, April 14 Booth went to Ford's Theater to pick up his mail and learned that the Lincolns were coming to the play that evening. He decided to assassinate the president that very night.

Moving frantically and working furiously all afternoon Booth met with his accomplices and implemented his, by now, expanded plan. tie now planned to orchestrate the murder of the vice president and the secretary of state. Booth hoped to decapitate the government of the United States.

By eight-thirty, when the president's carriage pulled up to the front doors of Ford's Theater, all the pieces of his nefarious plan were in place.



Vicious Madman Identified

Blood Found on Clothes



Conflicting Reports Concerning Escape Route


(Original article appeared Sat. evening, April 22, 1865)

Three of John Wilkes Booth's known conspirators have been arrested by the authorities and government sources indicate that more arrests are certain to follow. Hundreds of suspects are being questioned concerning their involvement in what is apparently a vast, intricate, and well-financed Confederate conspiracy.

Details of the arrests are as follows.

Mary Surratt, 41, widow, mother of known Confederate courier John Surratt, and associate of John Wilkes Booth. Mrs. Surratt owned a Maryland tavern which was identified as a center of Confederate secret service activity. In 1864 she moved to Washington and opened a boardinghouse on H Street which also served as a clandestine Confederate communications center.

Mrs. Surratt was arrested within hours of the infernal act at her H Street boardinghouse.

Lewis Powell, 21, Alabama-born rebel soldier taken prisoner at Gettysburg and released. Two brothers killed in war and one who lost his leg. Large, strong, silent, and violent he is known to have kept the skull of a Union soldier as an ashtray.

Powell has been identified beyond any doubt as the man who attacked and nearly killed Secy. of State Seward. He is believed to have been abandoned by his partner, 22-year-old David Herold who is still at large. Herold was to have guided Powell through the streets of the city and into Maryland. However, when he heard the bloodcurdling screams coming from the Seward house he, apparently, ran for his life, leaving Powell lost in the unfamiliar Washington streets.

Powell was arrested by soldiers stationed at Surratt's boardinghouse where he unexpectedly appeared.

George Atzerodt, 29, alcoholic, German immigrant, and carriage painter. Atzerodt was arrested on April 20 at his cousin's house in Maryland. Reportedly he balked at his assigned task of murdering Vice President Andrew Johnson and wandered the streets alone that night. He has given the authorities valuable information about the inner workings of the conspiracy.


Tragedy of the Century

Funeral Held in East Room of White House

Lincoln Lies in State Awaiting Trip Back to Springfield for Burial

Funeral Train to Take Same Route as Four Years Earlier

"Now he belongs to the ages"


Unprecedented Twelve Day Manhunt in Maryland and Virginia

Discovered in Tobacco Barn Herold Surrenders

Booth refuses le be taken alive Barn set on fire Shot in neck and dies hours later


(Original article appeared April 26, 1865 in A National News one-page Extra)

After committing his cowardly and dastardly deed, John Wilkes Booth raced his getaway horse down the alley behind Ford's Theater, into the nighttime streets of Washington and past unsuspecting soldiers. He was headed for the Navy Yard Bridge, the quickest route across the Potomac into southern Maryland and the safety of the South.

Booth reached the bridge at 10:45 PM on April 14 and was detained, as required, by the sentry who asked his name, residence, and destination. The bold killer, calling on his well-known acting abilities, calmly and candidly answered all questions put to him.

The sentry warned that he would not be permitted to return and then let the assassin of the president of the United States escape.

A few minutes later David Herold, who had left Powell at the Seward house, arrived and was stopped by the same sentry and also allowed to pass.

Booth and Herold, traveling faster than the news of their foul deed, were able to stay ahead of the government dragnet that had already begun to descend over them.

Herold caught up with his leader and they headed, as planned, eight miles south, to the Surratt tavern. Encountering no one on the road at that hour they arrived at midnight and picked up rifles, ammunition, and field glasses-all of which Booth had ordered Mary Surratt to have waiting for them. They also took some whiskey for the pain in Booth's leg which he apparently had broken while leaping from the president's box to the stage at Ford's Theater.

Booth and Herold immediately headed for I the house of Dr. Mudd, another one of the vast network of rebel accomplices Booth had put in place over the past year. Arriving four hours later, the good doctor put a splint on Booth's leg so he could hobble around and fashioned crude crutches to further aid the fugitive's mobility.

Leaving Dr. Mudd, the assassin and his underling continued to flee. Along the way they were helped by more rebel soldiers, agents, and Southern sympathizers who provided them with food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and places to hide from the constantly closing federal forces.

By April 25 Booth had been spotted. By 2 AM the next day the soldiers of the 16th New York Cavalry had tracked him down to a Virginia farm sixty miles south of Washington where he and Herold were hiding in a tobacco barn.

The soldiers descended on the farm and surrounded the barn. Herold surrendered but Booth refused. He challenged the soldiers to step back from the barn so he could emerge and engage them in a fair fight. Wanting to capture him alive, the soldiers set fire to the barn hoping to smoke Booth out.

Booth's movements could be seen through the openings in the barn walls. He retreated to the center of the barn away from the rapidly encroaching flames. Wary soldiers watched as he attempted to support himself on one of Dr. Mudd's crutches while bracing and readying his rifle against his hip.

Fearing that he was about to start firing at them, one of the soldiers, acting on his own and hoping only to wound the dangerous assassin, shot him. Booth, mortally wounded, was taken from the barn and died in agony a few hours later.


Excerpted from LINCOLN SHOT by Barry Denenberg Copyright © 2008 by Barry Denenberg. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions:

1. How do you think Abraham Lincoln compares to today's
American leaders?
2. If you were alive in 1860, what do you think your views on slavery would have been?
3. Do you think the South was justified when they seceded?
4. Look at the portraits of Lincoln on page 35. They span barely five years. Do they help you understand how heavily the casualties of war weighed on Lincoln? What else may have caused him to age so fast?
language arts
5. How can you tell what the author thinks of Abraham Lincoln?
Hint: Read the section on Lincoln's youth on pages 8-9, paying close attention to the adjectives that the author uses to describe
Lincoln, and the aspects of Lincoln's character that he chooses to emphasize.
6. Lincoln Shot begins with the assassination, and the capture and death of the conspirators. Do you think that increases the tension in the book or removes it?
7. The famous poem "O Captain! My Captain!" on page 40 was written by Walt Whitman to honor Abraham Lincoln.
"The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won." What do you think this line means?
art appreciation
8. Lincoln Shot is designed to look like a 19th-century newspaper. What do you notice about the book that makes it look old-fashioned? Hint: Notice the paper

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Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This over-sized book (11" x 17") was created to resemble an aged leather album of newspaper pages from a fictional periodical, The National News.The book begins with the assassination and then tracks back in time with "chapters" (denoted by headlines), Boyhood (1809-1829), Youth (1830-1835), Politician (1836-1853), and Candidate (1854-1860), followed by a chapter for each year of the Civil War (1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865). The biography ends where it began, with the nation's first presidential assassination. A Chronology, Index, Picture Credits, and Walt Whitman's poem, "O Captain! My Captain!" finish out the book. The Bibliography is available only online.Period photographs, quotes, maps, advertisements ("Dr. Sterling's Ambrosia for the Hair. For Sale by Druggists. Price $1"), sketches, handbills, and even a page of Lincoln's math homework in his own hand(!), ("If 1 gallon of ale cost 8d what cost 36 gallons"), add interest and variety to this story of one of our best-known presidents. Each page is sepia-toned and resembles a brittle and aging newspaper.Despite having read several biographies of Lincoln (both adult and children's), I was still able to find tidbits of new information in details about the assassins and other items of particular interest to children, such as the antics of the Lincoln boys in the White House. My only complaint is a minor one. Due to the book's format and use of actual period headlines, readers may have the impression that the text actually appeared in newspapers of the time. This book's size and format should definitely draw interest in this 200th anniversary of President Lincoln's birth. Great for display! (difficult to shelve)
K-rol More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book for adults and young people. Contains reprints of actual newspaper pages that were printed during the period following Lincoln's assination. The ads and other articles give a rare glimpse into that era.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago