John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at the end of Act 3, Scene 2 of “Our American Cousin.”
The deed delivered such a shock to Americans that Ford’s Theatre was immediately shuttered.
“Our American Cousin” segued from a tired comedy Laura Keene had performed for 1,000 nights to an infamous play synonymus with the country’s first presidential assassination.
Most Americans would have bet the play would never be performed again, but the assassin’s brother and brother-in-law came up with a way to make money on it before the year’s end.
Edwin Booth and John Sleeper Clarke, husband of Asia Booth Clarke, produced the play in New York City. Laura Keene, outraged, wrote a letter to the editor of a New York newspaper, to no avail.
Source: “Thy Thoughts Be Bloody” by Nina Titone and National Park Service publications.