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excerpt

The figure at the door now stepped silently into the president's box. He paused and took stock of the mere four feet between himself and the president. Slowly, smoothly, the man pulled a .44-caliber Derringer pistol from his pocket and waited. He was listening for lines from the play on the stage below. They would signal his next move.

"We will visit the Holy Land," Lincoln continued, leaning toward Mary so as not to disturb the others.
Now, hearing what he had been waiting for in an actor's words, the stranger—himself an actor named John Wilkes Booth—stepped for- ward and lifted his pistol toward the president's head.


We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior

In the sacred seconds that remained, Lincoln spoke again—before the assassin's shot entered his brain just inches behind the left ear, before the blood and the confusion and the manhunts and the grief, before the ages took him and the great soul left its earthly home to hover over a nation still struggling to be born. Lincoln spoke once more.

"We will visit the Holy Land and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior," the president said.
And then, nearly as the Derringer ball cracked the air, "There is no place I so much desire to see as Jerusalem."

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the life of abraham lincoln


about the author

Stephen Mansfield
is the New York Times best-selling author of The Faith of Barack ObamaBenedict XVI, The Faith of George W. Bush and Never Give In. Stephen lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Beverly.

twitter: @mansfieldwrites