10 Most Infamous Stains in History

A Booth and a Chair
President Lincoln's chair remains on display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich. © Medford Historical Society Collection/CORBIS

In April 1865, the American Civil War was finally grinding to halt. A Union victory was a certainty, but desperate Confederates weren't quite ready to surrender their cause. One man in particular, John Wilkes Booth, concocted a scheme he hoped would swing momentum back to the South.

His plan was to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. In doing so, he imagined that the disarray and chaos would terrify the North and galvanize secessionists.

On April 14, Booth, a well-known actor, crept into the balcony of the Ford Theater, where Lincoln and his wife were watching a production of "Our American Cousin." Booth shot Lincoln in the head, and the president slumped forward on his rocking chair, which became soaked with blood.

The chair was impounded as evidence during the criminal trial, but eventually it was returned to the widow of Harry Ford, who owned the theater. In 1929 the chair was auctioned off for only $2,400, to none other than Henry Ford. To this day, the chair remains a symbol of Lincoln's hard work and ultimate sacrifice.