If Booth's derringer had jammed and Lincoln lived, history might have turned out different.
Reconstruction might have succeeded, and blacks gained equal rights 100 years sooner. Jim Crow and lynchings might have never happened.
The rebuilt presidential box at Ford's Theater in Washington testifies to history's tragic course. Outside, the 10th Street corridor makes the dashing actor's plot to kill the president real.
Now, Lincoln's Republican Party stands for insurrection and violence. The states of the old Confederacy that Lincoln's army defeated seek to reverse years of racial progress.
The Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial sit across from each other at the National Mall. Washington, the slave-owning first president, set the new country on its conflicted history of liberty and slavery. Lincoln, who emancipated the slaves, sought a new foundation of freedom for all. Close by the mall, where Martin Luther King Jr. called for the nation to at last fulfill Lincoln's commitment, the Smithsonian's African-American History Museum gives witness to slavery's horror.
Lincoln sought to heal the nation's wounds. But they remain fresh and raw.