On this day. 1865: President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was killed when Union soldiers found him hiding in a barn in Virginia. Booth murdered Lincoln 12 days before, as the president attended a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington. After shooting the president, Booth leaped to the stage from Lincoln's box seat. He landed hard, breaking his leg, before escaping to a waiting horse behind the theater. Booth, a famous actor, was quickly recognized by theatergoers, and the chase was on. With an accomplice, David Herold, Booth made his way out of the city and into southern Maryland. They pair stopped at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated Booth's leg. Mudd was later sent to prison, but his life sentence was later commuted. Booth found refuge for several days at the home of a Confederate agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac into Virginia.
But Booth's luck finally ran out. The countryside was swarming with federal troops looking for him. They searched one home, belonging to Richard Garrett, found nothing and left. The History Channel reports: "The unsuspecting Garrett allowed his suspicious guests to sleep in his barn, but he instructed his son to lock the barn from the outside to prevent the strangers from stealing his horses. A tip led the Union soldiers back to the Garrett farm, where they discovered Booth and Herold in the barn. Herold came out, but Booth refused. The building was set on fire to flush Booth, but he was shot while still inside. He lived for three hours before gazing at his hands, muttering 'Useless, useless,' as he died."
On this day. 1984: President Ronald Reagan arrived in China for a summit meeting with Chinese President Li Xiannian. The trip marked the second time a U.S. president had traveled to China since President Richard Nixon's historic trip in 1972.
Quote of the day
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same." -Ronald Reagan
More from West Wing Reports...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- Hey, grammar nerds! Stop freaking out about 'alot.'
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
Subscribe to the Week