Life and Death of John Wilkes Booth

Pauline Go asked:

John Wilkes Booth was born at Bel Air, Maryland on May 10, 1838. His father was an actor, on the road for much of the time. Consequently John’s education suffered. John was also a spoiled child. Acting was in the family, and John, blessed with charm and good looks, decided to follow in his father and brother’s footsteps. He had a natural talent which made him popular despite the fact he was lazy and often reluctant to memorize his lines. In 1860, the year Lincoln was elected president, John Booth’s popularity was at its peak.

Booth was an ardent supporter of the Southern states and their policy of slavery. Consequently he felt the Civil War was justified and a necessity. He fervently believed abolitionists were traitors, and gleefully attended the execution of John Brown the well-known abolitionist. Booth wrote fervently that all of abolitionists deserved the same fate.

In 1863, he was forced to leave the stage for some time on medical grounds. In this period of idleness he fermented to plan to abduct the President. The objectives are not clear but it is believed that the intention was to hold the President hostage in for exchange Confederate prisoners. He managed to recruit six others in this venture. The first plan to capture Lincoln near Washington failed when the President failed to appear. It is believed that Booth became so frustrated that he then decided to assassinate President.

On the afternoon of April 14, 1865, he came to learn that Lincoln would be present at the Ford’s Theatre that night to watch a play called Our American Cousin. Booth entered the Presidential box that afternoon and attended to the lock so he could get access later. At 10 o’clock that night he entered the box and shot the President. Lincoln died the following morning. His colleagues were simultaneously to murder the Vice President and Secretary of State. That part of the excise was not carried out.

After the shooting, Booth jumped onto the stage in the course of which he injured his leg. Along with another suspect he was nursed by a certain Dr. Mudd for a couple of days. Despite the injured leg he got away and was tracked down to a barn. When asked to surrender he refused. The barn was then set on fire. A shot was heard. One of the pursuers claimed to have shot Booth, but that remains unclear. Knowing there was no escape, Booth might have committed *******. The date was April 26 1865.

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