John Thomson Ford 1829 – 1894, Ford’s Theatre In Lincoln’s time Washington, DC
Notable For Operating Fords Theatre At The Time Of The Abraham Lincoln Assassination
John Ford was rounded up after the assassination and, although he knew nothing of Booth’s conspiracy, was imprisoned for thirty-nine days as a suspect. His theatre was seized by Secretary of War Stanton, gutted, and turned into offices, as well.
It would not be restored until almost a hundred years later.
Ford was the manager of this highly successful theatre at the time of the assassination of Lincoln. He was a good friend of Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor. Ford drew further suspicion upon himself by being in Richmond, Virginia, at the time of the assassination on 14 April 1865. Up until April 2, 1865, Richmond had been the capital of the just defeated Confederate States of America and a center of anti-Lincoln conspiracies.
An order was issued for Ford’s arrest and, on April 18, Ford was arrested at his Baltimore home which he had reached in the interim. His brothers James and Harry Clay Ford were thrown into prison along with him. John Ford complained of the effect his incarceration would have on his business and family, and offered to help with the investigation, but Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton made no reply to his two letters. After thirty-nine days, the brothers were finally fully exonerated and set free since there was no evidence of their complicity in the crime.
The theater was seized by the government and Ford was paid $100,000 for it by Congress. Due to the treatment accorded to him following the assassination, Ford remained bitter toward the United States Government for decades.