Abraham Lincoln to right of Mrs. Lincoln seated in balcony box. Lincoln is being fired upon at the back of his head by Assassin. Persons left to right in image: Maj. Rathbone, Miss Harris, Mrs. Lincoln, President, Assassin.
On the evening of April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln attended a special performance of the comedy Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater. Accompanying them were Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris. During the third act of the play, at about 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. The bullet entered through Lincoln’s left ear and lodged behind his right eye. He was paralyzed and barely breathing. A doctor in the audience immediately attended to the president in the theater and then moved him to a house across the street. The doctor’s best efforts failed, however, and nine hours later, at 7:22 a.m., Lincoln died. Only days after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox ended the Civil War, Lincoln’s death shocked the American public. Currier & Ives satisfied the demand for details of the tragedy in prints such as this. Most lithographs published by Currier & Ives were hand-colored before going on sale. However, customers could elect to purchase images without color and either paint them at home or leave them black and white.