U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on this day in 1865, one of the most profound tragedies of the entire tragic episode of the U.S. Civil War.
It's hard to know for sure what would have happened had Lincoln lived, of course, but it's reasonable to believe that things would have been significantly better for the country.
For one thing, Lincoln was altogether a much more admirable person than Andrew Johnson. Indeed, Johnson was one of the most disagreeable people to ever occupy the White House. Johnson was completely inadequate for the challenge he faced, whereas Lincoln had already proven himself. And Lincoln would have had the legitimacy to see through his vision of the postwar rebuilding and reconciliation.
Instead the process got off to a bad start and went downhill from there. In the end it took another century before the promise of the Civil War began to be fulfilled and more than 150 years later the process is incomplete, as illustrated by the recent controversy in Virginia.
Sadly, the assassin often achieves his goal.