According to biographer Ward Hill Lamon, President Abraham Lincoln had a dream about his own assassination in the weeks before his death. This is probably not surprising, considering the times in which Lincoln lived and the circumstances of his presidency. Lincoln had presided over the United States during its greatest crisis, as it plunged into the Civil War; his assassination came only days after the war ended, when he was shot by a man who hoped to revive the cause of the Confederacy. The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, had been planning to either kidnap or kill Lincoln while the war was still underway. By the time he actually carried out his plan, the war was already over and Lincoln’s death would do nothing to change that.
In contemporary America, many of the same issues that prompted the Civil War still seem to exist. The nation is significantly divided along political lines, and there seems to still be a notable distinction between the North and the South. In recent years there have even been individuals and groups who have pushed for the secession of states or regions, as they oppose the political decisions of the current President, Barack Obama. It is impossible to ignore the fact that many of those who support ideas such as secession began to raise their voices only after the first African-American president was elected, demonstrating that an undercurrent of racism still infects America. At the same time, the divisions among Americans are too complicated to only ascribe to racism, though the concerns and fears that led to the assassination of Lincoln are clearly still present. The most significant lesson to be learned from Lincoln’s assassination is that just because it happened in an earlier time in American history, that does not mean that something like it could not happen again. Although the nation has come a long way in the time since Lincoln’s death, the current political climate shows that some things remain unchanged.