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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 1865

I certainly hope that you all are looking forward to a historical Tuesday Timeline this week because we are really going back in time.  To before the 1900s! 

It's very rare that I do a Tuesday Timeline spotlight that is set during the 1800s, but this was one event that I knew that I just couldn't ignore.  It was an event that back in its day was quite shocking, and although similar instances have happened since, this one truly was the talk of the town back in the day - as well as the talk of a nation.

We'll get to that in a little bit. 

In the meantime, we have some other things to get out of the way first.  Let's see what else happened on April 14 throughout history as well as seeing who has an April 14 birthday.

1715 - In South Carolina, the Yamasee War begins

1828 - Noah Webster copyrights the first edition of his dictionary

1860 - The first Pony Express rider reaches San Francisco, California

1881 - In El Paso, Texas, the "Four Dead In Five Seconds Gunfight" takes place

1894 - The first commercial motion picture house opens up in New York City

1912 - RMS Titanic strikes an iceberg shortly before midnight - the vessel sinks a little over two and a half hours later

1925 - Actor Rod Steiger (d. 2002) is born in Westhampton, New York

1927 - The first vehicle manufactured by Volvo is showcased in Sweden

1939 - John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" is first published

1944 - Three hundred people are killed in the Bombay harbor explosion

1948 - Photographer/actress Berry Berenson (d. 2001) is born in Murray Hill, Manhattan, New York

1956 - The videotape is demonstrated in Chicago, Illinois

1957 - Comedian Richard Jeni (d. 2007) is born in Brooklyn, New York

1958 - Soviet satellite Sputnik 2 falls from orbit after being suspended in space for 162 days

1969 - Barbra Streisand and Katharine Hepburn tie for the Best Actress Academy Award

1981 - Columbia (STS-1) - the first operational space shuttle - completes its first test flight

1986 - Ninety-two people are killed in Bangladesh following a storm dumping extremely large hailstones (some weighing as much as one kilogram!)

1995 - Singer/actor Burl Ives passes away at the age of 85

2002 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returns to office just two days after being ousted by the Venezuela military

2007 - Singer Don Ho passes away at the age of 76

2012 - "Dark Shadows" actor Jonathan Frid dies at the age of 87

2014 - 75 people and 141 more are injured in twin bomb blasts in Abuja, Nigeria

And celebrating a birthday on the 14th of April are the following people; Loretta Lynn, Shani Wallis, Bobby Nichols, Julie Christie, Pete Rose, John Sergeant, Ritchie Blackmore, John Shea, Bruce Sterling, Barbara Bonney, Peter Capaldi, John D'Aquino, Brad Garrett, Robert Carlyle, Daniel Clowes, Jeff Andretti, Gina McKee, Tom Dey, David Justice, Anthony Michael Hall, Adrien Brody, David Miller, Da Brat, Amy Birnbaum, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rob McElhenney, Paul O'Brien, Claire Coffee, Vivien Cardone, Graham Phillips, Ellington Ratliff, Skyler Samuels, and Abigail Breslin.

So, as mentioned up above, today's Tuesday Timeline date predates the 1900s, so you know we're going to be talking about a major historical event.

An event that took place on April 14, 1865.

Wow, that was one hundred and fifty years ago! 

And let's just say that a century and a half ago, a shocking event took place that changed the course of American politics forever. 

That was the day that President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre by John Wilkes Booth.  Lincoln, of course, died the following day.

Of course, there have been quite a few assassination attempts on American Presidents over the country's 238-year-history.  Of course, most people remember the 1981 attempt on President Ronald Reagan and Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme attempting to off Gerald Ford in 1975.

And of course, Lincoln wasn't the only President to be assassinated.  James Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy were all killed while in office in 1881, 1901, and 1963 respectively.

However, Lincoln was the very first President to die at the hands of an assassin - and believe it or not, this was not the first time that Lincoln had been the subject of an assassination attempt!

In 1861, Lincoln's life was threatened by a group who vowed to assassinate him on his way to his inauguration in Baltimore, Maryland.  A second attempt was made three years later in August 1864 when a lone rifle shot missed hitting Lincoln's head!  The thing that saved him?  His love for tall hats.  The bullet struck the hat.

Sadly, the third attempt proved to be fatal. 

On April 14, 1865 - Good Friday - Lincoln and his wife attended a performance of "Our American Cousin" which was playing at Ford's Theatre in Washington D.C.  The Lincolns attended the play with Major Henry Rathbone and Clara Harris, and they were seated in the Presidential Box after the play had already started.  Approximately 1,700 people were in Ford's Theatre at the time.

What Lincoln wasn't aware of was that John Wilkes Booth - an actor who had participated in performances held at the theatre - was already there.  And he was there for one reason only.

To kill Lincoln.

But why was Booth so keen on assassinating Lincoln?  And why was Lincoln's life threatened more than once?

Well, it all has to do with when Lincoln was elected as President of the United States.  Or, rather, I should say President of the Northern United States.

You see, Lincoln was elected in 1861, which happened to be the same year that the American Civil War began.  In 1861, there were only thirty-four states in the Union, and of those thirty-four states, at least eleven decided to secede from the United States to become the Confederate States of America.  And as it so happened, most of the states to join the Confederate Union were southern states.

Hence the reason why the American Civil War is sometimes referred to "North vs. South".

The reason for the Civil War was stemmed from the controversial practice of slavery.  There was once a dark time in American history in which white Americans forced people of colour to become their personal slaves, making them do all of the hard work that they did not want to do, and often being abused physically and sexually if they ever stepped out of line.

And Abraham Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery into the western territories, which lead to hostilities between the Northern States (who opposed slavery) and the Southern States (who supported it).

As we all know, the Civil War ended in 1865 with the North triumphing over the South, and the country once more became the United States of America (even though the Confederate States of America were never recognized as an official nation in its four year history).  But many people who lived in the Confederate States region still remained loyal to the confederation.

John Wilkes Booth was one.  And because of a speech Abraham Lincoln gave just three days before he died about how Lincoln wanted to enfranchise the former slaves, Booth decided that Lincoln must die.

And on April 14, 1865, Booth opened fire on Lincoln inside of Ford's Theatre.  He died the next day.

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