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John Parker -- the guard who botched his assignment

Ford's Theater
Ford's Theater

Washington Metropolitan Police Officer John Parker is virtually an unknown man in American history. Perhaps if he had actually done the job he was assigned to do on April 14, 1865, we would all know about him.

John Parker was the man assigned to protect President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater. He obviously failed in his mission. In fact, Parker left his post just prior to John Wilkes Booth climbing the stairs and entering the presidential box. Historians do not agree where Parker went (either into the interior of the theater to see the play or to the tavern), but either way, Parker was not where he was supposed to be.

Parker was a last minute appointment due to Lincoln’s regular bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon being sent to Richmond by Mr. Lincoln earlier in the week.

John Parker was a particular odd choice for this particularly important job. He had troubles throughout his career as a policeman including being reprimanded for firing his gun inside a brothel, missing thirty straight days without any notification of his absence, and being drunk on duty.

Just as puzzling as his presidential assignment is the fact that Parker got charged with neglect of duty, but those charges for leaving his duty station on a night when the President of the United States was assassinated were later dismissed.

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