5 facts you may not know about Lincoln's assassination

  • From the moment Abraham Lincoln was elected president of the United States on November 6, 1860, he was no stranger to death threats. In fact, he compiled a vast array of menacing letters in a White House desk folder - labeled "A" for assassination.

    Despite pervasive anti-Lincoln sentiment in the South, the president never feared for his life. Yet he did have a deep foreboding about his demise, according to historian Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Lincoln.

    "He didn't believe assassination was in the American spirit," Holzer said. "He was also fatalistic and said, 'If someone wants to get at me, there is nothing I can do to prevent it.'"

    There was certainly nothing Lincoln could do on the evening of April 14, 1865 when John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box at Ford's Theatre. The stage actor fatally shot Lincoln in the back of the head, triggering a manhunt for the murderer and his conspirators and a long period of national mourning.

    While the major events surrounding Lincoln's death are well chronicled, some fascinating details are less known. Read on to learn five surprising anecdotes about the 16th president of the United States and his assassin.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com