The Lost Museum Archive
Lewis Payne, 1865
On the night of April 14, 1865, at the very moment when John Wilkes Booth stepped into the President’s box at Ford’s Theatre and fired a deadly shot at President Abraham Lincoln, Lewis Payne entered the bed chamber of Secretary of State William H. Seward and began to attack him with a large knife. Seward was wearing a neck brace that blunted the blows and saved his life. Payne, also known as Lewis Powell, was an Alabama native and Confederate veteran. He, Booth, and others also planned to murder Vice President Andrew Johnson and General Ulysses S. Grant that night, in hopes of crippling the federal government, but those attempts never took place. Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner took this photograph of Payne as he was held in federal custody; he was executed for his crime on July 7, 1865.