Sic Semper… Oops!


We all know the story. April 14th, 1865 the Civil War was all but over and President Lincoln decides (OK, Mary decides) that they need so enjoy a night at the theater. Originally General Grant and his wife we supposed to accompany them, but using many skills I assume he learned on the battle field, Grant was able to get out of going. ¬†Instead it would be Henry Rathbone and his fiance that would accompany the Lincolns to the Ford Theater and “Our American Cousin.”

Joining that night would also be John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Southern sympathizer that wanted Lincoln dead. His story goes well beyond the scope of this brief article, but the important thing is that during the play he found himself with unfettered access to the President’s box and the man himself. A small pistol in one hand and a dagger in the other he looked to “avenge” the Confederacy.

Sneaking into the box he moved behind Lincoln and fired his pistol, jumped onto the ledge of the box and by most accounts yelled, “Sic Semper Tyrannis!” and leaps from the box to the stage. It would have been perfect if he had not caught his spur on one of the bunting flags that hung on the outside of the box. That snag of his boot caused him to land awkwardly and severely injury his leg. From that point on the story is well-known.

In the photo above is the flag from the box that Booth snagged his spur on. If not for that flag and the injury that Booth sustained, it is very possible that he may have avoided capture. That makes that relic pretty darn cool.