Killing Lincoln | Bill O’Reilly

Summary of: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever
By: Bill O’Reilly


Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever takes you back to the critical events of 1865, as the Civil War neared its end and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination unfolded. The book explores Lincoln’s aspirations for reunification, the hardships faced by the Confederate and Union forces, and the sinister, assassination plots against the president, focusing on John Wilkes Booth’s role. In this summary, we’ll revisit some unforgettable moments in American history and delve into the motivations and actions of infamous conspirators.

The Beginning of the End

As the American Civil War neared its end in April 1865, Union General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces proved too much for Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s diminishing army. With only 35,000 fighting men remaining compared to Grant’s 200,000, the Union’s capture of Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, appeared to signal an end to the war. However, this was just the beginning of a different fight against those who opposed the Union’s victory. Abraham Lincoln, the Union President, became the target of assassination plots fueled by the anger of Southerners who believed the end of slavery threatened their way of life. One of these people was John Wilkes Booth, who saw it as his duty to fight for the Confederacy even after Lee’s defeat. As the war concluded, a new battle for the country’s future was just beginning.

The Confederacy’s Last Stand

Lee’s plan to escape the Union forces was thwarted at High Bridge, leading to the Confederacy’s ultimate surrender. After the fall of Richmond, Lee’s army was exhausted and hungry, but still within reach of supplies in Farmville, Virginia. However, the Union had spies and knew of this plan. On April 6, 1865, a battle ensued at High Bridge, which the Confederates lost, suffering nearly 8,000 deaths or prisoners. Lee’s remaining men were surrounded and outnumbered, leading to his surrender on April 9, 1865. President Lincoln finally received news of the war’s end, marking the Confederacy’s last stand.

Lincoln’s Challenge

After the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln faced the daunting task of healing a divided nation while dealing with multiple assassination attempts, including the successful one by John Wilkes Booth. Booth was motivated by his white supremacist beliefs and loyalty to the Confederacy, and he carried out his plan to kill the president in April of 1865.

Lincoln’s Assassination

Abraham Lincoln’s assassination by John Wilkes Booth was a result of Booth’s desire for recognition and his opportunity to act on it. Booth’s murder plot was facilitated by the theater manager’s shared news of the Lincolns’ presence at Ford’s Theater that night. Booth targeted Lincoln in his state box, which had only one doorway, as the bodyguard had left his duty to get a drink. Initially, Booth planned to kill Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant but had to suffice with only killing Lincoln because Grant left for home early. Thus, Booth successfully executed his plan and became known by the world as the mastermind behind Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.

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