What was John Frederick Parker’s Role in Lincoln’s Assassination?

Guilty conspirator or serial screw-up?

Joseph Liebreich
4 min readDec 23, 2020


Via smithsonianmag.com

Background for Lincoln’s assassination

John Wilkes Booth was born in Maryland in 1838 into a family of noted actors. Booth continued the family tradition and appeared in 1855 in Shakespeare’s Richard III in Baltimore and other plays.

Booth had strong Confederate sympathies but stayed in the North during the Civil War to continue his acting career. As the war started to wind down, he and several associates developed a plot to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital, and hold him for ransom. They thought they could then trade him for Confederate prisoners.

On March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, Lincoln failed to appear where Booth and his six fellow conspirators were waiting. The planned abduction obviously failed.

Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces, and on April 9, 1865, Lee surrendered marking the beginning of the end of the Civil War. Booth was determined to save the Confederacy and came up with an even more elaborate plot to revive the South.

He and his co-conspirators plotted to kill Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward all at the same time. Booth hoped to disrupt the government enough to allow the Confederacy a chance to be resurrected.

April 14, 1865

While picking up his mail at Ford’s Theater, Booth overheard someone saying Lincoln would attend that evening’s performance. He spent the following eight hours gathering supplies and scheming with his allies.

That night Lincoln’s party arrived at the theater at around 9 p.m. The play, Our American Cousin, had already started. Lincoln settled into a private box above the stage with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, Henry Rathbone, and Rathbone’s fiancée, Clara Harris. The orchestra struck up “Hail to the Chief.” Lincoln bowed and sat down. The President was reportedly in a fine mood and laughed heartily during the production.

At 10:15, Booth slipped into the box and fired his pistol into the back of Lincoln’s…



Joseph Liebreich

Been writing articles here and there for 15 years. I like to write about a variety of topics.