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Lincoln Contributions
February 15, 1964

The Wound That Killed Lincoln

Author Affiliations

New York

From the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.

JAMA. 1964;187(7):480-489. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060200012002

NINETY-NINE YEARS AGO, on the evening of April 14, 1865, Washington was aglow with happy hysteria over the surrender of Lee at Appomattox five days earlier. Grant, the conquering hero, was in town and the newspapers had suggested that he might accompany President and Mrs. Lincoln to Ford's Theatre that evening.1,2 People flocked to the theatre.

Just after the second intermission, at about 10 PM, a dashing, compulsive young actor named John Wilkes Booth entered the front door of the theatre, bantered with the ticket taker, who knew this popular actor well, and ascended rapidly to the dress circle. There he paused for a moment while he selected a letter or visiting card from several in his pocket, to show to anyone who might challenge him, and advanced toward the door of the presidential box, which was at the right side of the theatre and built partly out onto