Topdog/Underdog Historical Context

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The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln

As the American Civil War was drawing to a close, President Abraham Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, attended a performance of Our American Cousin, a musical comedy, at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. While Lincoln sat in his box seat in the balcony, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and rebel sympathizer from Maryland, sneaked into the president's box and fired one shot at point-blank range from his Deringer, shouting, "Sic simper tyrannis!" ("Thus always to tyrants"). Some reports have Booth adding, "The South is avenged!" Booth leaped to the stage below, limping to an exit and escaping on his horse. Lincoln lay mortally wounded and was carried across the street, where he entered a coma until he died the next morning, on April 15, 1865. Booth received medical attention while on the run, but was fatally shot when he was discovered...

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