Sketches of Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination

The Library of Congress has a large collection of graphic arts created over the course of two centuries. They depict famous locations and subjects. There are a large number dedicated to capturing the assassination and aftermath of President Lincoln. Below are an assortment, with descriptions.

The text below this work says, “President Lincoln’s Last Reception, Respectfully Dedicated to the People of the United States.”

Abraham Lincoln's last reception
Abraham Lincoln’s last reception Source: Library of Congress

The next work focuses on John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, who is being tempted by Satan to commit his crime. You’ll see in the picture that Satan is speaking into Booth’s ear, pointing one hand at Booth’s gun, and that other at Lincoln, sitting unknowingly on the right side.

Satan tempting Booth to the murder of the President
Satan tempting Booth to the murder of the President Source: Library of Congress

This next work theorizes on who else was behind Lincoln’s assassination. The Knights of the Golden Circle was a secret society – part of it’s hope was to create a separate confederation of slave states. It is thought that John Wilkes Booth was a member of this secret society, and that they were conspirators in Lincoln’s assassination.

Theory. Practice. Effect
Theory. Practice. Effect Source: Library of Congress

Several artists depicted the actual assassination of Lincoln. Each of the images below has a slightly different perspective, but all show Booth coming from behind Lincoln and leaving no one else around him with an opportunity to stop the crime. Just after the shot went off, Booth jumped from the balcony on to the stage and escaped, for ten days, until captured and killed.

The assassination of President Lincoln: at Ford's Theatre, Washington, D.C., April 14th, 1865
The assassination of President Lincoln: at Ford’s Theatre, Washington, D.C., April 14th, 1865 Source: Library of Congress
Assassination of President Lincoln, at Ford's Theatre, Apl. 14th 1865
Assassination of President Lincoln, at Ford’s Theatre, Apl. 14th 1865 Source: Library of Congress
Assassination of President A. Lincoln, April 14th 1865 at Ford's theater, Washington, D.C.
Assassination of President A. Lincoln, April 14th 1865 at Ford’s theater, Washington, D.C. Source: Library of Congress

Lincoln did not die until the following morning, April 15, 1865. In that time, people close to Lincoln, including his son Tad, as well as the Surgeon General, Secretary Sumner, and more. Below are several depictions of Lincoln on his deathbed, at 453 Tenth Street, home of William Petersen.

Lincoln's death bed : 453 Tenth Street, Washington, D.C
Lincoln’s death bed : 453 Tenth Street, Washington, D.C. Source: Library of Congress
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Death of Lincoln
Death of Lincoln Source: Library of Congress
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The death bed of the martyr President Abraham Lincoln. Washington, Saturday morning April 15th 1865, at 22 minutes past 7 o'clock
The death bed of the martyr President Abraham Lincoln. Washington, Saturday morning April 15th 1865, at 22 minutes past 7 o’clock Source: Library of Congress
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Death of Abraham Lincoln, April 15th 1865
Death of Abraham Lincoln, April 15th 1865 Source: Library of Congress
Death of President Lincoln: At Washington, D.C. April 15th 1865. The Nation's Martyr
Death of President Lincoln: At Washington, D.C. April 15th 1865. The Nation’s Martyr Source: Library of Congress

The next work depicts an angel and Lady Justice next to the bullet that killed Lincoln, sitting under a microscope. Both seem to be condemning the bullet. At the top of the picture, the text says, “Death is not death; tis but the ennoblement of mortal man.”

The "bullet," with which our martyr President A. Lincoln was assassinated by J.W. Booth, as seen under a microscope
The “bullet,” with which our martyr President A. Lincoln was assassinated by J.W. Booth, as seen under a microscope Source: Library of Congress

On the way to Lincoln’s final resting place in Springfield, Illinois, there were many funerals, and thousands gathered to see his body as it traveled. Below are different depictions of the journey.

The body of the martyr President, Abraham Lincoln. Lying in state at the City Hall, N.Y. April, 24th & 25th 1865
The body of the martyr President, Abraham Lincoln. Lying in state at the City Hall, N.Y. April, 24th & 25th 1865 Source: Library of Congress
The funeral of president Lincoln, New York, April 25th 1865: passing union square
The funeral of president Lincoln, New York, April 25th 1865: passing union square Source: Library of Congress
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Funeral car of President Lincoln New York, April 26th, 1865.
Funeral car of President Lincoln New York, April 26th, 1865. Source: Library of Congress
Funeral car of President Abraham Lincoln passing the State House at Columbus, April 29
Funeral car of President Abraham Lincoln passing the State House at Columbus, April 29 Source: Library of Congress

Following his assassination, many created works of art that showed Lincoln as a martyr, and placed him next to George Washington, the father of the United States. One work shows Lincoln at the reconciliation of North and South and the end of the Civil War.

The last offer of reconciliation in remembrance of Prest. A. Lincolns. "The door is open for all"
The last offer of reconciliation in remembrance of Prest. A. Lincolns. “The door is open for all” Source: Library of Congress
National picture. Behold oh! American, your sons the greatest among men
National picture. Behold oh! American, your sons the greatest among men Source: Library of Congress
Defender, martyr, father - U.S. Grant, A. Lincoln, G. Washington
Defender, martyr, father – U.S. Grant, A. Lincoln, G. Washington Source: Library of Congress

Finally, an image of Abraham Lincoln, that below his name reads, “The Martyr President”. This work was completed in 1865, following Lincoln’s death.

 

Abraham Lincoln:The martyr president - assassinated April 14th 1865
Abraham Lincoln:The martyr president – assassinated April 14th 1865 Source: Library of Congress

About Sam E.

Sam is a new contributor to Ghosts of DC and Ghosts of Baltimore. He has been a long time fan of the website. As someone who can lose hours looking at old pictures and reading about DC history, the blog is a perfect outlet for him to explore the history of the District.

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