Lincoln Assassination Tid-Bits, Part 2

Booth's "last stage performance."

Booth's "last stage performance."

More items of interest found while reading “THEY HAVE KILLED PAPA DEAD!” by Anthony S. Pitch:


* John Wilkes Booth slashed with the knife wildly at anyone in his path as he ran across the stage and out the theater. In doing so, he bumped into orchester leader William Withers and cut his coat and vest (Note from B. Nash: the book doesn’t mention whether or not Booth’s knife contacted his flesh-but I don’t think it did).

* A man in the audience-Joseph Stewart- gave chase to the fleeing Booth while shouting: “Stop that man!” Stewart was hindered enough (by the crowd and by where he was positioned) to not quite catch up to Booth-and literally watched him escape on a mount out onto F Street.

* Some members of the theater audience thought Booth had been captured in the wings. Voices immediately rang out: “Hang him!” “Kill the murderer!” “Shoot him!” “Lynch him!”

* Dr. Charles A. Leale was the first physician on the scene to the stricken Lincoln. After examining Lincoln and providing artificial respiration he made the pronouncement that: “His wound is mortal. It is impossible for him to recover.”

* Dr. Leale held Lincoln’s hand for several hours while the fallen President was on his death bed. Dr. Leale knew that Lincoln was blind, judging by the paralysis, dilated pupils, and the bulging bloodshot eyes (which were insensitive to light). On the possibility that Lincoln might still be able to hear or feel-Leale wanted Lincoln to know that he had a friend-that he was in touch with humanity-so he held Lincoln’s hand.

* The Booth family suffered greatly for the action of John Wilkes. The Booth name had been associated with greatness in theater acting. After the assassination, they had to contend with shame and guilt. Edwin Booth (brother to John Wilkes) wrote a letter to a friend: “I’m half crazy now!” His show (in Boston) at the time of the assassination was cancelled. He received death threats and hate mail daily. He isolated himself for weeks.Ironically, Edwin had voted for Lincoln in the Presidential elections twice. He was a loyal Unionist. Even more ironic-Edwin had once saved the life of Lincoln’s son Robert Todd Lincoln.  

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