The Slatest

Read the Associated Press’s 1865 Story About Lincoln’s Assassination

A re-enactor at Ford’s Theatre in front of the booth where Lincoln was shot.

Alex Wong/Getty

Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865—Tuesday is the 150th anniversary of the attack. The Associated Press marked the occasion by posting an edited version of the story that its correspondent, Lawrence Gobright, filed from the scene. Amazingly, as noted by the New Republic’s Brian Beutler, the story doesn’t mention that Lincoln had gotten shot until its third paragraph!

WASHINGTON, APRIL 14 — President Lincoln and wife visited Ford’s Theatre this evening for the purpose of witnessing the performance of ‘The American Cousin.’ It was announced in the papers that Gen. Grant would also be present, but that gentleman took the late train of cars for New Jersey.


The theatre was densely crowded, and everybody seemed delighted with the scene before them. During the third act and while there was a temporary pause for one of the actors to enter, a sharp report of a pistol was heard, which merely attracted attention, but suggested nothing serious until a man rushed to the front of the President’s box, waving a long dagger in his right hand, exclaiming, ‘Sic semper tyrannis,’ and immediately leaped from the box, which was in the second tier, to the stage beneath, and ran across to the opposite side, made his escape amid the bewilderment of the audience from the rear of the theatre, and mounted a horse and fled.

The groans of Mrs. Lincoln first disclosed the fact that the President had been shot, when all present rose to their feet rushing towards the stage, many exclaiming, ‘Hang him, hang him!’ The excitement was of the wildest possible description …

You can read the whole thing here; it involves the verb oozed, which is apparently a much older word than I would’ve guessed it was. Lincoln died April 15 at 7:22 a.m.