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Did John Wilkes Booth act completely on his own in assassinating President Lincoln?

KNOXVILLE -- John Wilkes Booth is widely known as the lone shooter in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, but was he alone in the planning? Knox County Public Library will present a special screening of The Conspirator (PG-13, 2010) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 8 in the East Tennessee History Center part of the Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War exhibit. The public is invited to watch and learn about the assassination of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.

William E. Hardy, Lincoln scholar and adjunct professor of history at Lincoln Memorial University, will begin the afternoon with his presentation entitled "'That's the last speech he will ever make': The Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln." From a plot to kidnap Lincoln to a widespread conspiracy to assassinate the President, Mr. Hardy will place Lincoln's murder in the context of an interconnected cast of characters and events. Hardy proposes that Lincoln's last speech is directly linked to his assassination, and that Lincoln's death dramatically altered the course of American History.

After the scene is set and audience members are familiar with the film's historical context, The Conspirator (2010; PG-13) will dramatically examine Lincoln's death and aftermath. Starring James McAvoy, Tom Wilkinson, and Robin Wright, The Conspirator follows the story of Mary Surratt, the lone female charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination trial of President Abraham Lincoln. As the whole nation turns against her, Mary is forced to rely on her reluctant lawyer to uncover the truth and save her life.

At the movie's conclusion, Mr. Hardy will answer questions and facilitate discussion. Attendees are also encouraged to view Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War while they are visiting the East Tennessee History Center. This feature exhibit shows visitors how President Lincoln used the Constitution to confront the crises of the Civil War, ultimately reinventing the Constitution and the promise of the American way of life. Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War is free and open to the public through January 13, 2012.

This program and Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War are provided to the public by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. Free admission to the Museum of East Tennessee History and the Lincoln exhibit have been made possible by the Arts and Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville.

Published January 6, 2012

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