U.S. Library of Congress

Satan tells John Wilkes Booth to shoot Abe Lincoln

This is "Satan tempting Booth to the murder of the President," a remarkable 1865 lithograph by John L. Magee. It was published not long after John Wilkes Booth shot and killed U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

The image is now part of the collections of the U.S. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. (LC-DIG-ppmsca-23846)

The summary there reads, in part: "Lincoln's assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, is goaded by a hideous Mephistophelian figure to shoot the unsuspecting President, who is visible in a theater box beyond." Yes, that's a peacock feather between Satan's horns; the symbolism suggests that Satan is the egotistical "peacock of angels."

See our biography of Satan