Was John Wilkes Booth Crazy?

John Wilkes Booth & the Devil

John Wilkes Booth & the Devil

Certainly many have thought Booth to have been “crazy.” Newspaper accounts and endless books have cited him as a “madman,” “monster,” and “fiend.” He was thought to be totally insane or possessed by the Devil. Perhaps there are those who would still ascribe those names to John Wilkes Booth. Some might say that anyone that would kill a President had to be “out of his mind.” There may some merit in that argument. Personally, I don’t think Booth was any of those things. But if he was crazy or possessed by the Devil, it seems to me, he really couldn’t have been held responsible for his actions. What I think is simpler. I believe Booth was not possessed by the Devil but by a belief. He wasn’t crazy but crafty. He held strong convictions and was willing to die for them. He conceived of a clever way to murder the President while in the theater. What a perfect set-up for him the assassin! He knew every inch of Ford’s Theater. He knew the play ‘Our American Cousin.” No one would question his comings and goings within the building itself. Most of all, he would play the “lead role” in the most important production of his life. He planned the murder carefully and didn’t act in a disorganized haphazard fashion as someone who was seriously mentally ill might have. He had a mind set on avenging the South. He perceived that Abraham Lincoln was directly responsible for the ruination of America (especially the South). I should mention that Booth was actually from Maryland, a Northern State, but his sympathies were with the Confederate cause.

In his mind, Lincoln started the Civil War and caused the death of thousands needlessly. Booth didn’t hold like Lincoln that “all men are created equal.” Booth had stated that the country (the USA) was made for the white man not the black man. He also posited that blacks were essentially “better off” as slaves in America than blacks in other (less developed?) countries. He even mentioned that God had blessed the American slaves with their situation. I think Booth also personally detested Lincoln. He saw Lincoln as uneducated, uncouth, and homely looking. Booth was thought to be handsome, charming, and “all that.” In other words, he looked down his nose at Lincoln. As it became obvious that the South had lost the war and that the ideals that Booth held dear were invalidated, he decided to “take a stand.” He had hoped to earn praise for his actions. He sadly learned that he was largely condemned for what he had done. He wanted his mother to know that he had died for his “country,” but his family also rejected his actions. In the end, he wasn’t crazy or possessed by the Devil; he had given his soul to an ideology of inequality and hate. Seeking everlasting fame he became infamous. He lies buried today somewhere within the Booth family plot in Baltimore, Maryland, the exact spot unmarked.

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4 Responses to “Was John Wilkes Booth Crazy?”

  1. julia says:

    hey guiz its julia

  2. Shelly Shore says:


  3. B. Nash says:

    So do you think Booth was crazy?

  4. Chris Nash says:

    Wow, this is very interesting I learned a lot about this 😀

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