One hundred fifty years ago, the United States was in the midst of an April it would long remember. The first major Confederate surrender on April 9 signaled, to many, the end of the war (although, that really wasn't true.). The April 14 assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the first President of the United States to be killed in office, stunned the nation..
Lincoln's killer, 27 year old actor John Wilkes Booth, became the subject of a nationwide manhunt. After shooting Lincoln in the back of the head while Lincoln was watching a play at Ford's Theatre (just six blocks from the White House), Booth jumped onto the stage, breaking his leg.
Before fleeing, he shouted either ""Sic semper tyrannis" (thus ever to tyrants) or"The South is avenged.". Eye witness accounts vary.
As a point of trivia, one eyewitness to the 1865 assassination lived long enough to appear on an American game show in 1956, shortly before his death.
Now people were afraid. The last four years, our country has been at war, with well over (estimated) 1,100,000 casualties (dead/injured/captured). If we used the same percentage of today's population, this would have been over six million people.
Additionally, recent evidence has come to light that the generally accepted casualty figures were understated - some of this research done locally, where I live (Binghamton University).
Parts of the nation were in ruins. Our President was dead, our Secretary of State seriously wounded and Lincoln's assassin was on the loose. (As part of the plot, the Secretary of State was also attacked in a different location, but survived.) People asked: Will our government, will our nation survive?
The New York Times, a major New York City newspaper that still publishes today, said YES. And the newspaper was right.
But the month of April, 1865, was not yet over.