5 facts you may not know about Lincoln's assassination

  • 4. Booth also wanted to kill Ulysses S. Grant on April 14, 1865

    This is an undated photo of a sketch of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. AP Photo

    The advertisements for "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater on Good Friday in 1865 promised that President Lincoln and the First Lady would be accompanied by General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife. The announcement was welcome news to Booth.

    "Booth believed he could kill both of them," Holzer says. "His plan was to dismember the Union government."

    But Booth's grandiose plans were foiled by tension between the spouses of the Civil War hero and commander in chief. Gen. Grant's wife, Julia, despised Mary Todd Lincoln and dreaded the prospect of spending the evening with the first lady. Accordingly, the Grants declined the invitation, saying they had planned to visit their children in New Jersey.

    Had Julia Grant and Mary Lincoln been on better terms, the tragedy at Ford's Theater likely would have unfolded very differently. Grant would have either become one of Booth's victims or he would have stopped the assassination, Holzer said. Grant was confident that the latter would have happened.

    "It was something he regretted for the rest of his life," Holzer said.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for