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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Global Perspective
First broadcast April 2007

President Abraham Lincoln

In the Global Perspective series, BBC World Service and seven of its partner stations around the world bring a global perspective on a given theme.

This year, each partner has been examining belief.

Whether a clash between traditional and contemporary beliefs, beliefs that sustain identity, belief in religious entitlement to riches or the absence of belief, the series offers a range of vivid insights.

Programme Five: After the Shot

This week's programme from Soundprint in the USA looks at the American attachment to conspiracy theories, and in particular the beliefs surrounding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln over 140 years ago.

On the night of April 14th 1865, in front of a thousand people at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, an actor called John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Shouting 'Sic semper tyrannis': 'thus always to tyrants', Booth believed that he was striking down a tyrant as surely as Brutus struck down Julius Caesar.

Twelve days later Booth himself was shot dead in a barn in the nearby state of Virginia.

From the moment Booth shot Lincoln, conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination have flourished and 140 years later, for both historians and ordinary people, they are still very much alive.

Some believe Booth was the ring leader of a small group; others are convinced he was simply a pawn in a grand conspiracy plot. While others believe it wasn't really Booth who died in that Virginia barn.

Jean Snedegar tries to unravel the truth from a myriad of legends about the assassination of a great American president.


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