Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth On this day in 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, fatally shoots President Abraham Lincoln at a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War. Booth, a Maryland native born in 1838, who remained in the North during the war despite his Confederate sympathies, initially plotted to capture President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, the Confederate capital. However, on March 20, 1865, the day of the planned kidnapping, the president failed to appear at the spot where Booth and his six fellow conspirators lay in wait. Two weeks later, Richmond fell to Union forces. In April, with Confederate armies near collapse across the South, Booth hatched a desperate plan to save the Confederacy. Learning that Lincoln was to attend a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater on April 14, Booth masterminded the simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. By murdering the president and two of his possible successors, Booth and his conspirators hoped to throw the U.S. government into disarray. On the evening of April 14, conspirator Lewis T. Powell burst into Secretary of State Seward’s home, seriously wounding him and three others, while George A. Atzerodt, assigned to Vice President Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Meanwhile, just after 10 p.m., Booth entered Lincoln’s private theater box unnoticed and shot the president with a single bullet in the back of his head. Slashing an army officer who rushed at him, Booth leapt to the stage and shouted “Sic semper tyrannis! [Thus always to tyrants]–the South is avenged!” Although Booth broke his leg jumping from Lincoln’s box, he managed to escape Washington on horseback. The president, mortally wounded, was carried to a lodging house opposite Ford’s Theater. About 7:22 a.m. the next morning, Lincoln, age 56, died–the first U.S. president to be assassinated. Booth, pursued by the army and other secret forces, was finally cornered in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died from a possibly self-inflicted bullet wound as the barn was burned to the ground. Of the eight other people eventually charged with the conspiracy, four were hanged and four were jailed. Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president, was buried on May 4, 1865, in Springfield, Illinois. 1912 RMS Titanic hits iceberg Just before midnight in the North Atlantic, the RMS Titanic fails to divert its course from an iceberg, ruptures its hull, and begins to sink. Four days earlier, the Titanic, one of the largest and most luxurious ocean liners ever built, departed Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. While leaving port, the massive ship came within a couple of feet of the steamer New York but passed safely by, causing a general sigh of relief from the passengers massed on the ship’s decks. The Titanic was designed by the Irish shipbuilder William Pirrie and spanned 883 feet from stern to bow. Its hull was divided into 16 compartments that were presumed to be watertight. Because four of these compartments could be flooded without causing a critical loss of buoyancy, the Titanic was considered unsinkable. On its first journey across the highly competitive Atlantic ferry route, the ship carried some 2,200 passengers and crew. After stopping at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, to pick up some final passengers, the massive vessel set out at full speed for New YorkCity. However, just before midnight on April 14, the ship hit an iceberg, and five of the Titanic‘s compartments were ruptured along its starboard side. At about 2:20 a.m. on the morning of April 15, the massive vessel sank into the North Atlantic. Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. Most of the approximately 700 survivors were women and children. A number of notable American and British citizens died in the tragedy, including the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus, Astor, and Guggenheim fortunes. The announcement of details of the disaster led to outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. The sinking of the Titanic did have some positive effects, however, as more stringent safety regulations were adopted on public ships, and regular patrols were initiated to trace the locations of deadly Atlantic icebergs. 1935 Country legend Loretta Lynn is born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky If there’s one thing nearly everyone knows about country-music legend Loretta Lynn, it’s what her father, Ted Webb, did for a living. Like any man struggling to provide for a family during the Great Depression, he took work wherever he could find it, but his primary job was in the mines of the Consolidation Coal Company in the rugged mountains of eastern Kentucky. Ted and his wife, Ramey, raised eight children in their small wooden house in Johnson County, including the most famous coal miner’s daughter in the world, who was born on this day in 1935. As she sang in her autobiographical 1971 country hit, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Webb grew up dirt poor but well-loved and taken care of by her hardworking parents. She adored music and sang in church choirs as a child, but childhood did not last long for Loretta, who was married at the age of thirteen and left Kentucky for the logging country of Washington State with her husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn. She was already a mother of four when she got her first guitar at age 18 and began to teach herself to play and write songs. Her next big move came at the age of 25, when Doolittle and Loretta’s tireless promotion of her first record, “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” got Loretta enough attention to warrant a move to Nashville, where she signed a contract with Decca Records. “Success” was the aptly named song that gave Loretta her first top-10 country hit in 1962, at the age of 27. Loretta Lynn’s record sales and chart performance over the next two decades were enough on their own to qualify her for genuine “legend” status among country singers, but her contribution to the genre went beyond mere popularity. As a woman writing much of her own material and writing it from a strong, feminine perspective, Lynn helped transform the role of women in country music. Songs like “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” (both 1966) introduced a new kind of female narrative to country music while also giving Loretta Lynn two of her biggest hits. While Loretta Lynn’s popularity waned in the 1980s and 90s, she made a creatively triumphant return with her 2004 album Van Lear Rose, produced by Jack White of The White Stripes and named for a mining community near the place she was born on this day in 1935.