John Wilkes Booth was an American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. A member of the prominent 19th-century Booth theatrical family from Maryland, he was a noted actor who was also a Confederate sympathizer; denouncing President Lincoln, he lamented the recent abolition of slavery in the United States.
Originally, Booth and his small group of conspirators had plotted to kidnap Lincoln, and they later agreed to murder him as well as Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward, likewise to aid the Confederate cause. Although its Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, had surrendered to the Union Army four days earlier, Booth believed that the Civil War remained unresolved because the Confederate Army of General Joseph E. Johnston continued fighting.
Booth shot President Lincoln once in the back of the head. Lincoln's death the next morning completed Booth's piece of the plot. Seward, severely wounded, recovered, whereas Vice President Johnson was never attacked.