Posted on in Todd Talks by Todd Johnson

On March 20, 1865, seven men with bad intentions saw their plot fail because of a sudden change of plans. The Civil War was not going well for the confederacy, and these men thought that if they kidnapped the president and took him to Richmond, Virginia, the Confederate capitol, they could turn the tide. When Abraham Lincoln didn’t show up in the spot they had chosen for their ambush, they needed another plan.

Two weeks later, Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, effectively ending the Civil War and handing victory to the Union. Undeterred, one of the co-conspirators of the plot to kidnap Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, hatched a new plan. A plan much more desperate and ruthless. 

Booth was to assassinate Lincoln, while George Atzerodt was charged with killing Vice President Andrew Johnson. Finally, Lewis Powell and David Herold were assigned to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward. Mr. Atzerodt lost his nerve and bailed. Powel and Herold were unsuccessful, thanks to William Seward’s son and a brace doctors had put on Seward’s neck to help him recover from a carriage accident. The brace blocked repeated blows from Powell’s Bowie knife, and Seward suffered only a cut to his cheek. Booth was the only successful assassin when he used his single shot .44 Deringer to deliver a fatal blow to President Lincoln in the Presidential Suite at Ford’s Theater during a performance of the play Our American Cousin. The posse thought that, by assassinating the President and the next two officials in line to follow him, they would create a disaster large enough to bring down the Union and give victory back to the Confederacy. It’s hard to say what would have happened had everything played out as Booth planned, but one thing the plot did accomplish was to end the life and Presidency of one of the greatest men to hold the mantle.

Lincoln issued many notable speeches and proclamations during his occupation of the nation’s highest office. The Gettysburg Address, which is 272 words that are well worth a daily read, dedicated a portion of the battlefield as a national cemetery. The Emancipation Proclamation, while not officially freeing the slaves, did give them the right to fight in the Union Army and Navy, and more than 200,000 did. This helped the Union win the war and eventually led to the 13th Amendment, which did accomplish the feat of ending the practice of slavery. He also created the Department of Agriculture and the role of  Commissioner of Internal Revenue, which later became the IRS. This formed the basis for the way taxes are paid today, where people are taxed based on their income levels, which fall within specific tax brackets. Honest Abe even signed the Homestead Act into law, which gave any U.S. citizen age 21 or older who had never taken up arms against the U.S. or given aid and comfort to its enemies the ability to obtain land with little or no money at all, women and former slaves included. 

I leave you with this quote from the man himself:

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” 
― Abraham Lincoln