National Archives at Boston

Featured Documents of the Month from NARA at Boston

"Stricken down by the hand of an assassin"

Telegram announcingdeath of Abraham Lincoln

On the evening of April 14, 1865, Good Friday, in a conspiracy to take down the government of the United States, President Lincoln was shot while attending a play with his wife. It was retribution not only for the surrender of the South, which had occurred earlier the same week, but for the President’s statement that the right to vote should be extended to black men. The details are, of course, well known today. The Secretary of State was injured also, but the Vice-President was spared, and the hunt for the conspirators would be the crime of the century. The entire country was in shock like no other time in our history, and the loss of Lincoln would forever influence post-war failed reconstruction and the national darkness that followed.