Flagpole Magazine, p. 11 (April 20, 2005).


The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln almost exactly 140 years ago–Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth while watching the play “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. around 10:15 p.m. on Friday, April 14, 1865, and died at 7:22 a.m. the following morning–was, in the words of historian Edward Steers, Jr., “a cataclysmic event in American history” which “gave rise to an ominous cloud that spread across the American landscape leaving its fallout on subsequent generations.” The prolongation of widespread virulent racism in this country, the calamitous failure of Reconstruction, the rise of the Jim Crow system, the continued economic and social oppression of African Americans and their transformation from slaves to underclass–all in some way resulted from the fact that Lincoln’s violent, early death deprived America of his brilliant leadership when it was needed the most.