It comes from a log book that was pulled from the trash and donated to the Metropolitan Police Department. The log book, which is commonly known as a police blotter, was used by police to record the names, ages, and occupants of people arrested on any given day.
On April 14, 1865, an unknown officer in the 8th Precinct wrote a detailed description of the assassination—right down to an expression of regret for what the writer called "the death of this beloved chief magistrate."
Written in long hand across two large pages, the officer who described the events of the night wrote from a police point of view, first stating the facts.
"Lincoln, the President of the United States, had been shot while sitting in the private booth at the Ford's Theatre on 10th Street," the blotter reads.
Some of the words are hard to make out—but the name of the assassin isn't.
"At an hour later, it became currently reported J.W. Booth was the person who shot the President," the officer wrote.
Officer Kenny Stewart, curator of the D.C. police museum, first saw the log book on December 21, 2007 when it was donated to the force by former D.C. Police Chief Maurice Cullinane. He says he was astonished, but excited to be looking at history.
The last entry in the book was made in August 1865. Where it was stored after that is unclear. What we do know is that Cullinane plucked it out of the trash and held onto it for safe keeping.
The description of the night from a police point of view is what stands out most.
"The excitement was great throughout the precinct, but the people were orderly and quiet," it reads. "The whole force were immediately put on duty by order of Superintendent Richards."
"The gloom that overshadowed the nation by the sad occurrence deeply affected the whole force, and brought many heartfelt sympathies from the nation's loss."
John Wilkes Booth was killed 12 days later, cornered by Union soldiers in a barn. That part, we knew. But it's the account of Lincoln's assassination from a police point of view that offers different perspective on history to a new generation.
The D.C. Police Museum still has the ledger, but the museum is currently closed for renovations. Click here for more info.