Killing Lincoln: How Close Can A Story Be To The Truth Of History

It’s an arresting multimedia story to read. It gives me an all-rounded picture and more details of the assassination of President Lincoln. It tells the story of history as real as possible.


The name and URL of the story

Killing Lincoln

The creators and producers

National Geographic Channel

Related News Attribution: New York Times

Photograph courtesy: Library of Congress; Dover Public Library; U.S. National Park Service;; National Police Gazette; My American Odyssey

Photographer: Taber Andrew Bain; Fred Delventhal; Michael Mathewson, etc.

A list of all assets

Navigation (Conspiracy, Assassination, Aftermath)

Photos (Historical photos and present photos)

Character introduction

Related location




Video (video show: killing Lincoln)


Google map

A written storyboard

This is a chronological story about the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. It’s developed in 3 parts: before the assassination, the day of assassination, and after the assassination. It uses audio, pictures and videos to give readers an immersive experience about this assassination and try to picture the fact of it.

As a Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth planned to kidnap the president. However, as the civil war drew to an agonizing end, Booth changed his plan into killing the president, the vice president and secretary of state. When President Lincoln enjoyed a shown at Ford’s Theatre, Booth sneaked in and shot President Lincoln on his head. The president died nine hours after he was moved to the Peterson house across the street. And a boot left behind by Booth led the police to this criminal.


Characters and the story


There are 37 scenes or parts of the whole story. In every scene, there are introductions of characters and a description of the event. All the characters involved in certain stage of the assassination are listed. If the character is first introduced, his/her introduction is automatically shown. If the character has been introduced before, readers need to click on the character to re-read his/her introduction.

This way of introducing the core characters helps the reader to build a relation diagram of all the characters involved in the assassination and understand the plot. It keeps reminding readers of the characters and their identity. All the introductions of one certain person remain same which is consistent so that the reader can immediately related this person with his action before.

Historical note and conspiracy note

For the description of each event in the scene, there is a window showing further information of the plot. It contains title of the plot, time, location, related news report by the New York Times, historical note and conspiracy note.


Historical notes provide readers with truth while conspiracy notes mainly offer anecdote of the scene. Such a coordination makes the story more interesting to read. It’s not only about history but about the multi-angled story.

For example, one of the conspiracy note mentioned items in Lincoln’s pockets at his death. And another conspiracy note mentioned Booth had photos of Mary in his room. All this notes give readers human interest of people in history.


The reports by the New York Times make this story even more arresting. Readers can have a glimpse of the history through the reports written when the assassination happened. This is what connect the plot-based story with the fact-based history.


Quotes by people who were involved in the assassination add human interest into the story. Readers can have a deeper understanding on one certain character after reading their sayings.

For example, Booth said “I have too great a soul to die like a criminal” and “I care not what becomes of me. I have no desire to outlive my country”. For me, I believe in humanity. I believe usually the evil soul has its silver lining. These quotes help readers to build a more real Booth instead of just an assassinator. He had his own understanding of the nation and love his nation very much.

Those quotes by President Lincoln also show his characteristic.

History is always about people. Quotes of people can directly show their mind and make the history more stereo.



Timeline is important for readers to build a chronological understanding of this event.

This story used a different type of timeline. It’s not simply time, but time related to the assassination.

It’s more coherent to help readers understand which stage they are in and how much this event is connected with the assassination.


The background music serves well to create the atmosphere of the event. Speaking of war, there are sounds of bombs. Speaking of the assassination at Ford’s Theatre, there are music, laughter and then gunshot and screaming.

Videos related to the story help readers to picture the scene. It’s useful because the videos usually show what is described in the scene.

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Photos are used for connecting history and present. Those photos make the history real and give readers an immersive experience about where the history happened.


Audio of characters saying is also interesting. It serves basically the same role as quotes. But the colloquial expression is more suitable for audio instead of written quotes.


Ending with significant pictures

At the end of the whole story, some crucial pictures are shown. These pictures is mainly about the most important thing in the assassination such as Booth’s boots, artwork showing Lincoln killed, picture of Ford’s Theatre and picture of Lincoln’s funeral.

This serves as a good ending, making a summary of the story and re-emphasizing the most important information in this story.



At the background of the website, there is the line moving downwards. I don’t know what that is for. It seems meaningless. It’s not about time because it always goes through locations. But it’s also not about location because it doesn’t follow someone’s course. It can be distractive and makes readers wonder what it is.

In terms of content, I think the background of the siege of Petersburg is too much. Instead, it should spare some space for the basic information of this story, such as Lincoln’s policy and the relation between Confederate and Union. Although these are universally known, it’s better to mention a b


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