From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
This chapter starts off with a Lincoln quote about how all men are created free and equal. Plagiarizer!
On to the action. Joshua Fry Speed, Abe's talky friend and vampire-hunting partner, comes to see Abe on April 12, 1865.
But first we get a rewind.
For Abe Lincoln, being in charge of a war has really wrecked his skin. Also, his marriage.
His wife is terribly depressed most of the time and goes to psychics to talk to her dead sons, so needless to say, things aren't awesome on the homefront.
According to Speed, Abe seems exhausted during their visit. And also, Abe tells Speed about this recurring dream he has where he's at his own funeral after his assassination. Why can't Abe Lincoln just have a normal flying dream like the rest of us?
Now, for a total change of topic, let's hear about John Wilkes Booth, actor, Confederate sympathizer, and vampire.
John Wilkes Booth learns that Abe is going to be at Ford's Theater, so he gets some associates ready for an attack. You can picture this as an Ocean's 11-heist organization, in which Booth gets together a bunch of people with special skills, all to take care of some particular job.
There's Mary Surratt (the woman who loves Booth a.k.a Julia Roberts), John Lloyd (the man who is holding Booth's hidden guns a.k.a Brad Pitt), Lewis Powell (the former Confederate a.k.a. Carl Reiner), and George Atzerodt (the, uh, other guy a.k.a. Matt Damon).
Elsewhere in Washington, Abe is very happy. We might call this irony, since we know what's coming but we could also just call it bad luck.
Lincoln's been happy and joking all day about the good news about the war. Lee has surrendered and Jefferson Davis is on the run.
So the Lincolns plan to go to the theater and look for some other couple to make it a double date. They try to get the Grants to come with them, but the Grants are busy watching Law and Order: SVU.
Back to Booth. The conspirators (plus a new conspirator, David Herold a.k.a. Bernie Mac. Too soon?) meet to discuss the plans.
Herold will lead Lewis Powell to Seward's house, where he will kill Seward.
Atzerodt will shoot Vice President Andrew Johnson.
Booth will kill Lincoln and General Grant at Ford's Theater. (Apparently, this plan was made when they thought the Grants were going to the theater with the Lincolns, but they underestimate how much Julia Boggs Dent Grant loves Detective Stabler.)
The hope is that killing the most important people in the Union government would give the Confederates time to get their act together. (By our calculations, they would need about 200 years.)
Now, a historical interlude about Booth.
He is called the "handsomest man in America" (33) and is a super famous actor—not the kind of guy you would expect to kill a president.
But what the regular history books won't tell you is that Booth is… a vampire. Bet you didn't see that one coming.
Booth thinks he has a great destiny because his mom told him she saw a sign from heaven when he was born. But then when he was 13, a gypsy gave him a scary fortune, saying that he would die young with lots of enemies. So it was a toss-up.
Turns out the gypsy was right. He did die young. When he was 20, a beautiful woman turned him into a vampire. But that was totally his choice so don't feel bad for him.
Back to the present day.
The Lincolns go to Ford's Theater with some friends (Major Henry Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris) to see the play Our American Cousin, a comedy.
They've got a new bodyguard, a policeman named John F. Parker, who is a big drinker and not a great bodyguard. Where's Costner when you need him?
Thanks to Parker's general incompetence, Booth walks right in (Parker isn't even at his post, but is watching the play) and shoots Lincoln.
He then turns to stab General Grant—except it's not the older Grant, but a younger Major Rathbone.
Booth stabs Rathbone, but Rathbone grabs Booth, which ruins Booth's chance to escape.
Then, when Booth jumps down to the stage, his leg catches and he breaks it. Epic fail.
But since he has everyone's attention, Booth yells out the state motto of Virginia, "Sic semper tyrannis," which means "thus always to tyrants." (Remember that one? It's the phrase that Lincoln dreamed of hearing in Chapter Ten.)
The other conspirators don't have such a good time of it.
Lewis Powell stabs Seward, but doesn't kill him because Seward is wearing a metal neck brace. George Atzerodt just gets drunk and doesn't even try to kill Vice President Johnson. Whoops.
But Abe dies across the street from Ford's Theater, in Petersen's Boarding House.
And since he died on April 15th, that's the "Ides of April." (Which is what he dreamed of in Chapter Ten—so is Lincoln a vampire hunter and a psychic here? Maybe.)
Booth had thought people were going to hail him as a hero, but everyone hates him now, including the Confederates who thought he went too far and were worried that the North would punish them all for what he did.
Which is why Virginian Richard Garrett turned Booth in on the 26th of April. Plus he got a big fat reward.
The Union soldiers surround the barn where Booth is trapped, but before they can get to him, Henry Sturges shows up to kill Booth.
And so the gypsy's prediction comes true: he dies in a bad way, with lots of enemies.