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Today in history: The assassination of Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the first of four presidents to be killed while in office
 
A lithograph representation of John Wilkes Booth assassinating President Lincoln.
A lithograph representation of John Wilkes Booth assassinating President Lincoln. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

April 14, 1865: President Abraham Lincoln was shot as he attended a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington. He died the next morning without regaining consciousness. His assassin, John Wilkes Booth, murdered the president to avenge the South's defeat in the Civil War. He had stalked the president for weeks, glaring down at him during Lincoln's second inauguration ceremony, and coming within feet of him as the president strolled through the Capitol rotunda. Lincoln became the first of four presidents to be murdered — Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy are the others.

April 14, 1950. In one of the most important — but least known — developments of the Cold War, President Harry Truman received a top secret National Security Council report (NSC-68) outlining what would become a decades-long policy to contain communism during the Cold War. The report predicted the eventual demise of communism and emergence of a "new world order" centered around American values. Truman officially signed NSC-68 on September 30, 1950. It was declassified in 1975.

The report said that in the wake of World War II, the United States and Soviet Union were the only two great powers in the world. The U.S.S.R., it added, was ruled by those with "a new fanatic faith" in communism who were solely focused on imposing "its absolute authority over the rest of the world." Therefore, the report said, clashes with the United States were inevitable. The possibility of military annihilation was present, and to prevent this the U.S. should embark on a rapid military buildup and focus on "containing" Soviet power. Truman officially signed NSC-68 on September 30, 1950. It was declassified in 1975.

Quote of the Day

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet." — Abraham Lincoln

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