John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Art Loux

John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by the late Art Loux is a truly remarkable gift to the historical community.  As a history of the assassin of Abraham Lincoln, it is unmatched in its scope and detail.  It represents Mr. Loux’s life’s work with his decades of in-depth research cataloging the movements of John Wilkes Booth.  The book was released on August 20th, almost eight months since Mr. Loux’s passing.

Art Loux's JWB DBD

There are always new books being written about the various aspects of Lincoln’s assassination. There are the big name authors like Kauffman, Steers, and Swanson who give wonderfully detailed accounts of the whole assassination story.  There are biographers like Ownsbey, Larson, and Titone who explore the lives of specific conspirators and their families. And, as always, the true drama of the Lincoln assassination is the perfect muse for pieces of historical fiction like “Wild” Bill Richter’s new, well researched and footnoted, novel.

At the same time, however, there are many poorly researched and poorly written books out there that saturate the topic with misinformation and supposition costumed up as fact. Authors of these volumes usually delude themselves into truly believing their own views regardless of the mountains of evidence against them.  Some even go as far as to spam every nook and cranny of the internet attempting to portray their views as fact.

This is why books like John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day are so important.  In an age of historical sensationalism misconstrued as fact, Mr. Loux’s book provides a model for how to conduct and present one’s research. John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day is devoted solely to the education, not manipulation, of its readers.  Each chapter provides an excellent narrative of the important events in that period of John Wilkes Booth’s life followed by a detailed record of his daily movements and activities.  It is the perfect book for everyone with an interest in the Lincoln assassination.  The casual reader will love to follow the 26 year journey of John Wilkes Booth to see what led him into Ford’s Theatre on April 14th, 1865.  The researcher will love pouring over the daily record and the thousands of fascinating footnotes.

Every chapter, even every page, provides new insight into the man who would later kill the 16th President.  For example, did you know that John Wilkes Booth once had to extinguish a fellow actress on stage when her dress caught on fire?

John Wilkes Booth extinguishes a fellow actress

John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day is filled with fascinating stories like this that have never been published anywhere else.   You can purchase your copy from online retailers like Amazon, or you might consider supporting the Surratt House Museum (the gateway to the assassination story) by purchasing your copy from them.

I sincerely believe that this book should be read by everyone interested in the Lincoln assassination. Due to this belief, I have purchased an extra copy of the book to give away here on the blog.  If you would like to win one free copy of Art Loux’s masterpiece John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post describing what aspect of the Lincoln assassination interests you the most.  In one week’s time, on September 21st, I will pick one of the commenters at random to receive a free copy of this indispensable book. The contest is now over. You may continue to comment, but any new comments will not be entered into any drawing.  Thank you all for participating.

Though Art is no longer with us, he has left behind an inspiring legacy of scholarship and generosity. So get commenting below for your chance to win a free copy of John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day courtesy of BoothieBarn.com.


Contest Rules: To win a copy of John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day you must write one (1) comment on this post explaining what aspect of the Lincoln assassination interests you the most. A valid email address must be attached to the comment in order to win. Multiple comments from the same person will be counted as one entry.  Contest will end on September 21st, 2014 at 20:00 PST.  The winner will be notified via email.  If no response is received within three (3) days, a new winner will be chosen.  In the event that the winner chooses to forfeit the prize, another winner will be selected.  Winners agree to have their name and comment used in a future post. Click here for the announcement of the winner of this contest.
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84 thoughts on “John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day by Art Loux

  1. Russell Simonaro

    The four men who drowned in the Rapp. river trying to capture John Booth. Their graves are in Alexandria Nat. Cementery in Alexandria, VA. Also that fact Dr. Mudd knew of Booth when he denied it to the authorities

  2. Hi, Dave–

    Generous idea for a contest; that book isn’t cheap! The two aspects of the assassination that intrigue me are both probably heresy to most: First, I believe the prime mover or guiding hand in that effort was Mrs. Surratt. I believe she moved to DC to further what she saw as her duty, whether she was assigned that duty or took it upon herself. I believe she was assigned to manage DC ops by the Confederate government.

    Second, I don’t believe that Jones’ thicket hideout story is true. I think that Booth and Herold stayed somewhere else and Jones, who was nothing if not circumspect and loyal, felt the need to protect whomever it was that gave food and shelter to the duo.

    To my mind, B&H’s stay at Garrett’s farm proves their preferences; they ate and slept indoors instead of toughing it out in the woods surrounding that place. They might run to the woods when necessary, but a hot meal and a warm bed worth finding, and there were folks in the area who did not despise what they had done.

    • Jim,

      Thanks so much for giving your insight and views. After experiencing “roughing it outside” myself, I would agree with you that all those days in the woods was the last thing Booth and Herold wanted. Part of me believes as you do that they may have found an occasional meal from the folks nearby. Whether they could find a bed, I don’t know, but it’s interesting to think about.

      • Dave, just watching your videos made me cringe. Nothing against those who love camping and other such activities, but I’m no Tarzan and I suspect JWB wasn’t, either. Herold, maybe! My idea of roughing it is opening the bedroom windows and turning off the A/C!!!

        • Jim,

          I enjoy camping, but even I need a tent! Sleeping out under the stars, while sounding romantic, is a very cold and scary situation. If it were out of complete necessity, Booth and Herold wouldn’t have done it ether.

    • Laurie Verge

      Jim, even though I’m director of the Surratt House Museum, I have always thought that Mrs. Surratt was a mover and shaker in the conspiracy – at least the kidnap phase of it. As for Booth and Herold moving around a bit during their so-called hiding in the pine thicket, I’m with you 100% on that. Despite his broken leg, I cannot see the hyper-active Booth staying in one place and scribbling in his “diary.” I tend to lean towards the James Owens testimony about them being around the Austin Adams area of Newport and Allen’s Fresh – even closer to Jones’s home and the eventual point of departure across the Potomac.

      • Laurie, I was hoping to hear your thoughts on those two subjects. Now you’ll get DOUBLE the treats next time I’m visiting the museum!!!

  3. Once again great post Dave! There are so many books out there on the Booth family and on the Lincoln assassination that I tend to get confused which books I should read/purchase. I usually seek advise from Tom at the Junius Brutus Booth Society and you (and you have been a great assistance with my endless questions). I first got interested with John Wilkes many years ago when I watched those documentaries on The History Channel and National Geographic. I then discovered Edwin Booth. As I read more about the Edwin and his family, the more I felt closer to him. I too experienced alcoholism and mental illness in my family just like Edwin. I too dealt with depression just like Edwin. It may sound morbid to some people but I feel such a connection with Edwin and his family that I have need to protect them. I just wished I had more time to study/research about them.

    • Carolyn,

      What you say does not sound morbid at all. I know many people who have strong emotional attachments to figures in history. When reading about the details in someone’s life, even someone who lived so long ago, it’s impossible not to make familiar connections with them. Thanks to you and the great folks like Tom Fink at Tudor Hall, I’m become more and more enthralled with the whole Booth family, and I too share in your protection of them… even from their misguided descendants.

      By the way, as I was reading through Art’s book, I was struck when I discovered that John Wilkes was essentially the last Booth to see Mary Devlin Booth alive. She saw her brother-in-law perform like ten days or so prior to her death and sent a note along with Wilkes informing Edwin of her illness but telling him there was no need to rush home. Edwin would regret following those directions for the rest of his life.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • Laurie Verge

      Carolyn, I have always felt that the appreciation of history connects folks to their own lives and their ancestors. With all the dynamics that played out in the Booth family, how can one not get intrigued with their stories?

    • Jenny Tubb

      Carolyn, my family struggles with mental illness and alcoholism too. It doesn’t sound morbid at all to me!

      I strongly suspect that John Wilkes struggled with bipolar disorder or something similar (too bad mental illnesses were uncategorized and not studied at the time!) due to reading about his apparent mood swings from his fellow actors, etc. That’s probably why I tend to sympathize with him more than most.

      I always say that if he did suffer from mental illness, it absolutely wouldn’t excuse his heinous crime but might provide insight into his mindset in the days before and following the assassination. The fact that he went blank on what year it was on April 14th makes me think that something was wrong there for example.

      Laurie has said before that she thinks Booth became “a loose cannon” when Richmond fell and he was cut off from his network there. I think that’s an excellent description!

  4. Matthew Randall

    As I research JWB’s background, motivations and movements for a play I am writing about him, this book will prove invaluable for cross-checking dates and information and filling in gaps.

    • Matthew,

      You definitely have your work cut out for you. Capturing the essence and motivations of John Wilkes Booth is no easy task. I hope you win the book. If not, I would still highly recommend you consult it somehow. I truly feel that it, and Dr. Terry Alford’s upcoming book Fortune’s Fool, will completely change our understanding of Lincoln’s assassin.

  5. Paul Hancq

    The most interesting aspect to me is how President Lincoln lacked any effective protection against assassination. He received many death threats, a hat had been shot off his head, and there were many enemies in and around Washington City, yet he still had no meaningful security. John Wilkes Booth was able to walk right into the President’s box with no opposition.

    • Paul,

      It is also amazing to me how naive Lincoln seemed to be regarding his safety. I wish I could have lived in his world, one in which he truly believed everyone was a gentleman and that death threats were merely people expressing their exasperation. Even with the violence around him, however, I think Lincoln was pragmatic that nothing could really stop someone determined to do him harm, especially considering the overall lack of security in his daily life.

      Thanks for chiming in.

      Dave

  6. Herb Swingle

    Booth,”jumped the gun”and took it upon himself to extinguish the flame of what America needed at that time of History!

    • Herb,

      I agree with you. Lincoln had his faults, sure, but Booth assassinated him at the worst moment possible. With the Civil War essentially over, our county needed Lincoln to “bind up the nation’s wounds.”

  7. Herb Swingle

    What makes me,”Sit up and take interest”,is how easy Booth was able to do what he thought he could get away with!

  8. Brian Gavula

    As a current Judge Advocate, the trial of the co-conspirators interests me the most because of its many fascinating aspects: the fact that the trial was by military commission; Joseph Holt, the Judge Advocate General, serving as both the chief prosecutor and legal advisor to the commission (no conflict of interest there!); allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, including withholding of Booth’s diary.

    • Judge Gavula,

      Thanks so much for commenting. The trial of the conspirators is filled with so much intrigue and there are definitely very passionate people who come done on both sides regarding it’s constitutionality. Dr. Elizabeth Leonard has written a book you might be interested in called, Lincoln’s Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky.

    • Laurie Verge

      Judge, you were the one that I was hoping would address the issue of why Booth’s diary was not entered into evidence. Thoughts?

  9. Dan Schmidt

    I was always fascinated with the thought what if John Wilkes Booth’s gun would have misfired. We know that Lincoln was very strong and was a good wrestler. I’m thinking that JWB may still have gone over the balcony but not under his own terms!

    • Dan,

      Your comment reminded me of this image from a Superman comic books set in the Civil War era.

      Perhaps Lincoln could have forced Booth out of the box similar to the man of steel.

  10. Laurie Verge

    I have often wondered why the “diary” was not entered into the proceedings. Am I off base to assume that it was because Booth himself was not a defendant in the trial and its contents were merely his patriotic ramblings that did not affect the evidence against those who were?

    And yes, I am one of those who does not believe that pages were ripped out by someone in the government to protect a long list of evil people who were in on the crime. There may have been others, but I don’t think Booth kept a list of them. I am not even sure he made deliberate plans to ensnare each and every person who might have been privy to the conspiracy, as some writers have suggested.

    Maybe I’m naive, but I see Booth as a Southern patriot – and an egocentric one, who saw his goal, worked to achieve it by any means, found an opportunity, and then sought help in his escape. If others got caught, so what…

    • Laurie,

      I don’t believe the exclusion of the diary from the trail was a malevolent gesture or an attempt to “cover up” anything. I view the whole thing as the government’s appropriate attempt to not give Booth his dying wish, which was to justify himself to the world. In the diary itself he blames the “Govt.” for not publishing his letter in the National Intelligencer. His diary was his last hope to explain himself and, despite what happened to him, he needed this manifesto to be read and understood. I believe that the choice not to release the diary text immediately following his death was a wise one.

      With regard to the missing pages, I see no conspiracy or elaborate plot here. It was a 1864 daily journal after all so why is it so inconceivable to believe that the earlier dates were actually filled with mundane entries regarding Booth’s life and acting in 1864? He didn’t want his final message to be belittled with the minutia of his life before his “heroic” and “altruistic” deed. It makes complete sense to me that Booth ripped those pages out to ensure what was left in his diary spoke of his deed and nothing else.

      • Laurie Verge

        I didn’t mean to suggest that the government omitted the diary as evidence out of malice. I just don’t think that Booth was on trial, and the diary pertained to him and his actions. What would the prosecutors have gained by introducing it as evidence when it did not implicate anyone else except elusive “we’s?”

        • Laurie,

          I agree with you completely. There was nothing to gain from using Booth’s diary at the trial since nothing in it implicated any other parties other than the brief mention of Davy (“this brave boy”).

  11. Joe

    What fascinates me about the assassination is how a young, extremely handsome and talented man like Booth, who had reached the point in his career where money and fame provided for all the luxuries a man could want, threw it all away for a spur of the moment scheme that brought such much misery to so many.

    • Well put, Joe.

      I’ve said it before, but the thing that got me into the Lincoln assassination was the Stephen Sondheim musical, Assassins. In the song, The Ballad of Booth, John Wilkes Booth sings (among other things), “Let them cry, ‘Dirty Traitor!’, they will understand it later.” That line continues to stick with me because even after all the reading and studying I’ve done on Booth, his true motivation and his reason for acting as he did still elude me. To me the hardest question to answer in the Lincoln assassination is what most people would consider the most basic: “Why did John Wilkes Booth assassinate Lincoln?” I don’t think I’ll ever have, nor do I think anyone will truly have, a 100% correct answer to that. I can speak to his various motivations and feelings, but to truly be able to explain why he, of all people, choose to act as he did, I don’t think anyone can really know. As you said, he had everything and yet he still chose to commit the most horrendous act known. It still fascinates me.

      Thanks for commenting.

      • Jenny Tubb

        Dave, even though I do not like a majority of the “Ballad of Booth” in “Assassins” (love Sondheim but “Assassins” doesn’t quite feel up to par with most of his other works), I have to admit that John Wilkes Booth’s solo before he is shot, especially sung by Victor Garber, is *very* haunting.

        “Damn my soul if you must,
        Let my body turn to dust,
        Let it mingle with the ashes of the country.

        Let them curse me to hell,
        Leave it to history to tell:
        What I did, I did well,
        And I did it for my country.

        Let them cry “dirty traitor!”
        They will understand it later.
        The country is not what it was…”

        Gives me chills!!

        • Jenny,

          Victor Garber is the best Booth in my opinion. I have seen the show at least 6 times now, sadly all of them have been community productions of varying talent, and no one has ever come close to Garber’s intensity.

          For those unaware, here’s the part Jenny mentions:

  12. Diane Adkins

    My interest in the Lincoln Assassination, and the conspirators, began in earnest the first time I visited Surratts House (many years ago) and saw a map in the gift shop indicating that Elizabeth Quesenberry was involved. Since then, and while researching my father’s family, the Quesinberrys, I found out that Elizabeth was a cousin by marriage. Her connections to her grandfather, Uriah Forrest, and her sister Rose’s to Mexico, made her very interesting. (I also attended Surrattsville High School). Currently, my focus is Samuel Arnold.
    Love your blog…find it very informative.

    • Diane,

      It’s always wonderful to meet relatives and descendants from those who were involved, in some way, in the drama of 1865. I’m so glad that my blog has been of some help to you in your genealogical research.

      I also wish you luck in your study of Sam Arnold. I, too have an affinity for Sam. In his later years he was such a hermit and felt so betrayed by humanity that it’s hard not to take sympathy on him. This summer I was fortunate to visit and transcribe a letter written by Sam that truly speaks to his misery. Some day in the future I will post that letter.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Dave

  13. Jenny Tubb

    Wonderful article on Mr. Loux’s book! He was a dedicated researcher, and I wish he were here to see this book released! Cannot wait to read John Wilkes Booth Day By Day.

    The aspect of the Lincoln assassination that fascinates me the most? Oh boy… I have to choose?!

    The Booth family history and the apparent alcoholism and probable mental illnesses that plagued them, especially the men, is something I am trying to research. As I mentioned in a response to Carolyn, I strongly believe John Wilkes Booth suffered from what is known as bipolar disorder today. What has been recorded of his actions in the days surrounding the assassination seem to indicate to me that he was experiencing mental distress from a lifelong illness fueled by the fall of Richmond and Lee’s surrender. Of course, this will never be proven unless we could sent a modern day psychiatrist or psychologist back in time to interview Booth back in 1865! It’s a theory of mine though!

    Also: Ella Starr, Booth’s mistress. I would love more information on her, but there is not a lot out there. I am hoping Terry Alford’s book will shed some insight into what became of her after June of 1865.

    Love your blog!

    • Jenny,

      I very much wish Art was still here so that he could see how instrumental his work will become to future researchers. He was such a generous and kind man and I think it is the saddest fate that he came so close to his goal and is not around to bask in the glory he has so rightly earned.

      Like you, I feel that the Booths could fill psychiatric text books. They were all such passionate people and the ways in which they expressed their love and frustration was always dramatic. I know that John Wilkes Booth: Day by Day would be beneficial to you in seeing Booth’s character on a larger scale, to help you more accurately judge his mental state Even if you don’t win, I hope you’ll consider getting it.

      To be honest, the women in Booth’s life have always been a mystery, and a source of confusion for me. Until recently, I sort of avoided all of his ladies because of the multitude of them and the difficulty I felt there would be in interpreting his true feelings for any of them. Isabel Sumner, Ella Starr, Lucy Hale, and so many others who claimed (falsely or otherwise) to have been close to John Wilkes are still an enigma to me, but I’m enjoying exploring the intricacies of their relationships. You have done a tremendous amount of research on Ella and have posted it on Roger’s site. When looking at Ella and Lucy Hale, in particular, it is hard not to think that these ladies, who were rivals for Booth’s heart in the past, would likely be close friends today.

      Thanks for commenting!

  14. John C. Fazio

    Dave:

    Nice job, as always.

    The thing that impresses me most about the assassination and attempted assassinations is how much of the conventional wisdom is not supported by the evidence, indeed is contrary to the evidence. Probably the two most glaring examples of this are 1) Booth’s alleged conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln, and 2) Montgomery’s, Dunham’s and Merritt’s testimony at the trial of the conspirators.

    With respect to the first, let me say flatly that Booth never really intended to kidnap anyone; that kidnapping was a ruse to conceal his real purpose of assassination and, later, mulitiple assassinations. There are no more than 3 or 4 items of evidence that suggest that kidnapping was Booth’s goal, but there are at least 26 that suggest that it wasn’t. Space precludes my listing all of them, obviously, but here are a few: 1) Davis rejected the only bona fide kidnapping plan that was ever presented to him (by Major Joseph Walker Taylor); 2) Conrad said “a child could conclude…that the move (kidnapping Lincoln) would have accomplished no tangible good to the Confederacy”; 3) Arnold said that Booth ignored “most favorable oportunities” to kidnap; 4) In all the conversations alleged to have taken place between Confederate operatives in Canada, there is one reference to abduction and DOZENS to assassination of Lincoln and other Northern political and military leaders; 5) Booth urged Powell on at least three occasions to kill Lincoln; 6) There were at least 6 attempts to assassinate Lincoln between July, 1863, and March, 1865; 7) Grant had resumed prisoner exchange in January, 1865 (3,000 a week), thereby removing Booth’s alleged rationale for kidnapping, a point made to Booth by Arnold, but ignored; 8) Atzerodt’s May 1, 1865, confession re the “New York crowd” can only be interpreted to refer to assassination, not kidnapping; 9) The notion that the entire Confederate leadership, including the Canadian Cabinet, bought into a 26-year old actor’s harebrained, madcap scheme to kidnap the President in a theater is ridiculous, as is the notion that Booth would show up in Richmond, unannounced, with Lincoln in handcuffs, an event that would be warmly embraced by Davis and Benjamin; and 10) Weichmann, Bingham and Harris all concluded that kidnapping was never Booth’s purpose.

    With respect to the second, does anyone really believe that Dunham trundled off to Washington to falsely implicate Davis in the crime because Davis had imprisoned him in Castle Thunder for 6 months and insulted his wife? And that he persuaded Montgomery and Merritt to do the same for the same reasons, all three thereby risking prison terms longer than 6 months for perjury? And that Dunham then persuaded 8 other witnesses to lie to the Boutwell Committee for the same reasons? His powers of persuasion must have been titanic or his pockets very deep, or both. Or, what is far more likely, he scattered so much perjury around that even a blind man would stumble over it, and that when the stumbling began, the case against Davis collapsed, obviously the intended purpose all the while.

    Thanks for reading.

    John

    • Diane Adkins

      John your research on kidnapping vs assassination is very interesting.

      • John C. Fazio

        Diane:

        Thank you. I have spent the last five years researching and writing about the subject.

        John

    • John,

      Thanks for commenting and, by the way, I received the materials about the acceptance of your book for publication. Congratulations are in order and please let me know when you think the book will become available.

      You have some very interesting thoughts and as a well trained, and clearly talented, lawyer your way of presenting your ideas is quite good. While I can’t say that I agree with your thesis completely (i.e. the concept that there was never an abduction plot), I am very much looking forward to reading your book to gain a better perspective on it.

      I would agree with you that assassination was likely always on Booth’s mind. The end result makes it impossible for me to feel otherwise. The Shakespearean Booth was likely always ready to play Brutus to Lincoln’s Caesar, even during the abduction plot. My biggest hang up to your theory, John, and I pray you won’t hate me for it, is that I truly don’t believe the Confederacy had that much to do with Booth and his plot. As a historian, my mind is, of course, open to new evidence and new information that could alter my view. Thus far, however, I have not seen the evidence to change my belief that Booth, while wanting the approval of the Confederacy and may have approached them with his ideas, was never a serious contender in their eyes. He was a talented and friendly actor, yes, but I have a hard time believing that anyone would have truly trusted him with so crucial a task like state sponsored abduction or assassination. The idea of assassination may not have been his alone, but it was his, and I think the way it was carried out and the way in which he escaped shows that he did not have the support of those “in R—–d” like he eluded to to his conspirators.

      Again, I’m very much looking forward to your book and as always, your opinions are quite interesting.

      • John C. Fazio

        Dave:

        Thank you for your response and for your congratulatory message. The fact that you disagree with some of my conclusions is A.O.K.; I expect to kick up a lot of dust and see some feathers flying. Far from its causing me to hate you, I hope you know that all of us have the highest regard for you and for your work. Your opinion that the Confederacy did not have much to do with Booth, that Davis, Benjamin, et al. would not have entrusted him with such an important task, that the assassination was “his idea” and that his escape proves that the Confederacy was far removed from him, however, is wide of the mark and inasmuch as you are an historian and your mind, therefore, remains open to new evidence that may alter your views, permit me to give you a sneak preview with the following items of evidence, which I ask you to add to the ones I gave your earlier in connection with kidnapping:

        1. First, think of the matter globally. Does anyone really believe Confederate leaders would tolerate a conspiracy to kidnap the President, with enormous political and military implications, if they knew about it and knew that a kidnapped President could do them no good? Davis and Conrad both said kidnapping would do them no good. (What would they have done in the face of Northern stonewalling? Pull out his fingernails?) The evidence that Confederate leaders knew all about Booth and his conspiracy is overwhelming. He had rubbed elbows with all of them, in New Orleans, Boston, New York, Canada, etc. He was also in constant contact with John Surratt, who was in constant contact with Benjamin and Davis. Thomas Jones, Chief Agent of the Confederate Secret Service, admitted it in his biography of Booth published in 1893. Chester and Arnold both spoke of Booth’s going to Richmond for money and authority. Why then did Richmond not stop him? Because HE WAS IN THEIR PAY (read Hall’s article: Follow the Money) and because his real purpose was not to kidnap, but to kill, and they knew it. How could they not know it?
        2. Mrs. McClermont’s testimony in Surratt’s trial in 1867 establishes ipso facto that Booth contemplated murder from as early as April, 1864, if not earlier.
        3. By March and April, 1865, the Confederacy was on its last legs. The only thing left to it, the only possibility of salvaging independence, was decapitation of the Union by multiple assassinations, the crown jewel in the Confederacy’s year of terror following the Wistar and Dahlgren-Kilpatrick Raids on Richmond in February and March, 1864.
        4. Would men who had authorized the spreading of pestilence (yellow fever) in the North, including the assassination of the President with “infected” shirts, or the poisoning of the water supply of a major Northern city (the Croton Reservoir for New York), shrink from assassination of 15 Union officeholders, or even 5, if it offered them the slightest hope of victory?
        5. All the letters that came into the possession of the Bureau of Military Justice during the relevant period (a half dozen or so) spoke only of assassination, never of kidnapping. Especially telling was the May 10, 1865, letter from the Union agent in Paris who quoted the Confederate agent “Johnston” as saying that if everything had gone according to plan, 15 yankees would be dead, not one, and that he arrived in Washington at 5:00 pm on the 14th and that by 5:30 he knew an “attack” would be made that night, and that Booth had said he would never be taken alive; that “he will bullet himself first”, and that he, Johnston, left Washington the following morning. Also telling is the T.I.O.S. letter to Booth, which speaks of the assignment of one assassin for each member of the President’s Cabinet.
        6, Ste. Marie’s Affidavit states that Surratt admitted to him, in Italy, that he and Booth had “killed Lincoln, the n—–‘s friend”, that they had worked under the direction of men who were under direct orders from Davis and Benjamin, some in New York, some in London.
        7. McMillan testified in Surratt’s trial that Surratt had told him that he and Booth spent $10,000 on their conspiracy ($140,000 in today’s money). Where do you suppose this son of a boardinghouse owner and right hand of an unemployed actor got that kind of money?
        8. When Davis received news of the assassination, his eyes “brightened” and his first words were: “If it were to be done, it were better if it were well done.” Later he added: “And if the same had been done to Andy Johnson, the beast, and to Secretary Stanton, the job would have been complete”. For his part, Benjamin left the country, intending, in his words, to “get to the farthest place from the United States even if takes me to the middle of China”. After an incredibly harrowing journey, he made it to England. Thereafter he never spoke of the American Civil War and never returned to the United States.
        9. Statements by Susannah Hamm establish, clearly and convincingly, that the plot to murder Lincoln was laid in Richmond.
        10. Many portentous comments were made by captured Confederate leaders which suggested that multiple assassinations would soon occur.
        11. There is evidence that Confederate operatives were present in and around Ford’s theatre on the fateful night, including Mosby Rangers.
        12. Gratuitous exculpations of the Confederate Government are telling in what they actually do rather than what they purport to do. Likewise with florid denials of complicity, even flat-out lies such as George Sanders saying he never even heard of Booth, despite witnesses testifying that they had often seen them together in the St, Lawrence in Montreal when Booth was there. Likewise with Jacob Thompson, who left for England after the assassination and stayed there until 1869.
        13. The Boutwell Report, using only testimony known not to be perjured. concluded that there was “probable cause to believe that Jeffferson Davis was privy to the measures that led to the commission of the deed (assassination)”.
        14. Tidwell, Hall and Gaddy concluded that the Confederate Government was complicit. H. Donald Winkler has also seen through the flim-flam. So have others. There is a growing consensus on the matter.

        That’s enough for now. Think about it. That’s all we can do.

        John

  15. Harry

    Charles Forbes -What card did Booth show him? What did he say to Booth? Why is there no record of any of his testimony? What was his background?– Too close to it with no information stirs suspicion.

    • John C. Fazio

      Harry:

      In my judgment the great likelihood is that he showed Forbes a note card of the kind typically used not only by the President but by all officeholders to communicate messages, inasmuch as there were no phones. Lincoln had just written one earlier in the evening for Congressman George Ashmun as follows:

      Allow Mr. Ashmun and friend to come in at 9 A.M. to-morrow.

      (Signed) A. Lincoln

      Here’s what I suppose Booth showed Forbes, a forgery which was a piece of cake for the Confederate Secret Service:

      Allow Mr. John Wilkes Booth to join me in my box this evening:

      (Signed) A. Lincoln

      There are four oblique references to Booth’s use of such a note card, from Stoddard, Koontz, Townsend and Holland.

      John

    • Harry,

      Mr. Forbes is one of those characters that I wish we knew more about. He was truly the last person Booth communicated with before he assassinated Lincoln, and yet the exact details of that interaction are so vague. I don’t there is anything too suspicious about Booth gaining entry to the President’s box. I doubt anything more than a regular calling card with Booth’s name or photograph was needed. Forbes had no need to “protect” the President from anybody. It was not his job and the thought of Lincoln needing protection in his theater box would would seem absurd until after Booth’s shot. I truly believe it was a simpler time then and the honor of gentlemen was the rule rather than the exception. Propriety was of the utmost importance back then. At the time, I bet Forbes did not even question Booth’s entry into the box because who, other than a person with a legitimate reason, would even think of approaching the President at the theater. It’s very difficult to comprehend now, but the societal norms were so different in 1865.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

  16. Tom K

    I find the conspiracy facinating because it amazes me as to how Booth was able to pull it off.

    • Tom,

      I believe that the assassination itself would have been easy for anyone to pull off. It was so foreign to anything that people believed would happen to their polite society. Remember that Secretary Seward wrote not long before the assassination attempt against him that, “Assassination is not an American practice or habit, and one so vicious and so desperate cannot be engrafted into our political system”. The threat of death occurred, impulsive remarks said in response to heated arguments or news, but to truly believe that anyone would take up such an evil course of action was so contrary to Victorian society.

      Due to this naive belief (though I don’t agree with the negative connotation implied to that word), the government was so unprepared when the assassination occurred. Booth was able to escape, and for a long time too, because of how foreign the crime seemed to their honorable way of life.

      There is a strong contrast between Booth’s plot viewed today and back then. Today, nothing about Booth’s plot would be feasible. His rag tag group of conspirators wouldn’t have harmed a hair on anyone’s head and they would have been swept up and arrested with nothing but a small news blurb about a foiled plot.

      Thanks for commenting!

  17. Wesley Harris

    This book is going to be one of those “must-have” classics for decades to come.

    My main area of interest is the weapons possessed by the consipirators and how the physical evidence was handled by the government. So much different from today’s “CSI.”

  18. I find it all interesting, so it’s difficult to pick a single aspect. But since my novel-in-progress centers around Mary Surratt and one of her boarders, I’d have to say it is this: how much did Mary know?

    • Susan,

      “How much did Mary know?” – That is certainly the million dollar question. That, along with “How much did Dr. Mudd know?” are among the most debated and contested questions in the whole Lincoln assassination story. I wish you luck on your novel. You’ve already increased my knowledge tenfold on Ms. Fitzpatrick.

      Thanks for commenting!

  19. Steve Hoover

    What I find facinating about the assassination is how does a actor put together such a group of conspirators. To do his bidding and do what the did. And for four of them to die for his plans.

    • John C. Fazio

      Steve:

      “The men by whom he (Booth) had been surrounded and who had associated themselves with him were, to a great extent, ignorant men. They clung to him for the bounty they were receiving at Booth’s hand”.

      –Sam Arnold, Memoirs of a Lincoln Conspirator, p. 127.

      Atzerodt was probably illiterate, was poorly regarded by everyone who knew him and therefore had a terrible self image. A doctor who testified at the trial said that Herold had the mentality of an 11-year old. Powell was simply muscle supplied by Mosby. Mrs. Surratt was a dyed in the wool Southern sympathizer who was said to have once offered a thousand dollars to anyone who would assassinate Lincoln. Arnold had some brains and character, but was said to always be hard up for money. O’Laughlen was a lost soul who found purpose and largess in Booth, the manipulator and flim-flam artist. Dr. Mudd, a wealthy landowner (tobacco), hated Yankees and blacks. Spangler was innocent.

      John

    • Steve,

      The conspirators were such an interesting and varied group. It is often written that Booth was a very charismatic and manipulative man. To a degree, I would agree with this assessment. However, it does a huge disservice to the men and women involved in his conspiracy to play them off as blind sheep following a shepherd. Booth had a very difficult time keeping them all motivated and convincing them that there was not only a payday and fame in store for them, but that it continued to be the right move for the Confederacy. No single conspirator was as one dimensional as some texts play them off to be.

      Atzerodt wrote his name legibly and his common law wife and mother of his daughter visited him in prison and clearly cared for him. Herold was a lively, immensely loyal and talented young man who was capable of not only beautiful poetry and but even elaborate lies during severe interrogation. Betty Ownsbey’s book shows Powell to be a deeply caring and passionate man who was likely severely torn between his sense of duty and the feelings he had for his Baltimore love. Mrs. Surratt was incredibly complex and represents the clash between the expectations of traditional Victorian womanhood and an almost feminist view of independence that was ignited by the Civil War. Samuel Arnold, a Confederate veteran, wanted desperately to help the cause he loved, yet was pragmatic and conflicted about his whole involvement with Booth. O’Laughlen, also a Confederate veteran, was a very social and well liked man who had friends on both side of the conflict. Dr. Mudd was a family man who saw a way of life he had always known completely disappear. Spangler had strong Confederate sympathies but likely was completely ignorant of Booth’s plot. Yet he still took his punishment with more grace than any man I have ever known.

      To elevate Booth to the degree of supreme puppet master belittles the character, intelligence and free will of his conspirators.

  20. The main thing that I fing most intriguing is the fact that someone of such stature would commit such an act. It blows my mind that Booth would go through with such an act.

    • Kerry,

      Your thoughts are very much like Joe’s above, and again I have to say I share them. Booth had everything in the world and yet sacrificed it all for his one mad act. It’s perplexing beyond words.

      Thanks for commenting!

  21. Arthur Candenquist

    Boothie Barn is an excellent venue for sharing of information and ideas relating to the assassination.. The one particular aspect of the assassination which fascinates and intrigues me is the role the Confederate government may or may not have had in the kidnap plans, and in the assassination plans and outcome. I suspect there is much that has not yet been uncovered on the relationship of the Confederate government and the events of late winter 1864-Spring 1865 as they are enmeshed with with plans to cripple the U.S. government.

    • John C. Fazio

      Arthur:

      There was no bona fide kidnap plot. As for the assassination plot, you may be right that there is more evidence to be discovered, but there is already enough for Tidwell, Hall and Gaddy, masters of their craft, to conclude that the likelihood that Davis did not order the assassination and attempted assassinations is “very slight indeed”. Another author, of modest ability, concluded that the totality of the evidence now available makes the likelihood of non-involvment of the Confederate Government “near zero”.

      John

    • Arthur,

      Thank you for the support, good sir. I’m sure you will enjoy Mr. Fazio’s book when it comes out since it will speak directly to your interests.

      I, personally, am still concerned that so much of the evidence pointing towards a direct and devoted involvement between the Confederacy and Booth is still too circumstantial and secondhand to be relied upon.

      • John C. Fazio

        Dave:

        There is a prejudice against circumstantial evidence that is undeserved. Ask any prosecutor which he/she would prefer: circumstantial evidence or material or eyewitness testimony. The first is uniformly considered golden, the latter two notoriously unreliable. Nevertheless, here are three non-circumstantial items of evidence to help you with the issue:

        1. Top Confederate Secret Service agent Benjamin Franklin Stringfellow wrote, in 1880, about a secret mission he carried out in Washington in March, 1865, at the behest of Davis. He told of being in constant communication with an officer occupying an important position about Mr. Lincoln and he added that he made this officer a proposition. Stringfellow left the country after the assassination and stayed away for 2 years.
        2. Top Confederate SS agent Thomas Nelson Conrad wrote, after the war, that : “…the story which gained circulation after Mr. Lincoln’s death –that Booth and his fellow conspirators were the men at that time (late September, 1864) planning a kidnapper’s work–appears to have as little foundation as a dozen other yarns in the same connection…there is every reason to believe no evidence in that direction was produced simply because there was none”.
        3. The sentry on the Maryland side of the Navy Yard Bridge (Demond) wrote, after the war, that prior to April 14, 1865, they had NEVER been ordered to ask for passwords and countersigns from anyone seeking to cross the bridge, but that on that night they were so ordered. The password was “T,B.” and the countersign was “T. B. Road”. When Booth reached the Maryland side, Demond asked him for the password. Booth said “T.B.” “T.B. what?”, responded Demond. “T. B. Road” answered Booth. When Herold reached him, the same questions were asked and he received the same answers. Further, Cobb gave two different reasons for not passing Fletcher, both designed to keep Fletcher from pursuing Herold. Clearly, treason was alive and well that night at the Navy Yard Bridge.

        Keep thinking about it.

        John

        • John,

          While historical theories can be developed and explored based on initial circumstantial evidence, there is a dangerous fallacy in building a “case” that relies so heavily upon them. One can seemingly prove anything based on circumstantial evidence, because circumstantial evidence is all about interpretation. With circumstantial evidence you see what you want to see. As a lawyer, you are right that circumstantial evidence is your best friend. It allows you paint the exact picture you want for the jury because you can make it fit your interpretation. In history, however, I feel this is a very dangerous thing Circumstantial evidence and secondhand (third, fourth, etc) accounts from unreliable and unrelated people are the reason people continue to believe laughable theories like Booth escaping his death on April 26.

          In regards to the three non-circumstantial items of evidence you’ve posted, I’m afraid they don’t prove anything to me.

          1. Does Stringfellow say something specific relating to Booth and his gang, or is his account of a secret mission in Washington just as vague and unrelated as it sounds? Without something further, this seems like a huge piece of circumstantial evidence if it can truly be considered evidence of anything.

          2. You are missing the context and rest of Conrad’s quote. First of all, the quote you mention comes from a newspaper article published in 1892, which is already suspect due to how long after the events it was recalled: http://newspaperarchive.com/us/massachusetts/boston/boston-daily-globe/1892/11-20/page-30

          In the article Conrad recounts his own kidnapping plot in 1864. He ends the article with:
          “These seem to be the actual facts in the case, and the story which gained circulation after, Mr. Lincoln’s death-that Booth and his fellow-conspirators were the men at that time planning a kidnapper’s work-appears to have as little foundation as the dozen other yarns In the same connection. In fact. Booth was never shown to have contemplated the capture or assassination until the winter following our unsuccessful job, and there is every reason to believe no evidence in that direction was produced, simply because there was none.”

          Read it carefully. Conrad is not dismissing that Booth had a capture plan of his own. In fact, he actually supports it with the phrase, “Booth was never shown to have contemplated the capture or assassination until the winter following our unsuccessful job”. He’s saying the story that Booth was involved in his (Conrad’s) operation has no evidence to back it up, but he does not dismiss that Booth had his own plot. And even if he did, adamantly claim that Booth never had an abduction plot, his opinion would mean nothing as he was not involved with Booth at the time.

          3. John, please, you should know better than to use any of Finis Bates’ material as support for anything. Not only that, but instead of using the actual quoted material from Desmond (which is still entirely suspect given the source it was published in) you use Bates’ narrative lie. I doubt Desmond was even there, but even if he was, his own account does not mention a password or countersign. Desmond, who states he was not on post at the time, merely said that when Booth was asked where he was headed, he said “T. B. road”. Booth once again showed a degree of honesty just like when he told Cobb he was going to Beantown (Dr. Mudd’s) because he did go down T.B. road. Here’s the letter from Desmond as quoted in Bate’s book: http://books.google.com/books?id=7b6RaaIN61IC&lpg=PA109&ots=JrzzLfLW4F&dq=%22T.B.%20road%22%20demond&pg=PA107#v=onepage&q&f=false

          Best,

          Dave

          • John C. Fazio

            Dave:

            Thanks for your response.

            I believe you misunderstand circumstantial evidence. Suffice it to say that judgments, civil and criminal, are handed down every day based on such evidence, because it is deemed to be very strong.

            1. Stringfellow would never mention Booth or any member of his action team in his letter because to do so would be to tie Davis to him. He didn’t even identify the mission to Davis. No need to; Davis obviously knew what it was. We may be certain that it related to the assassination and attempted assassinations that soon followed. Why else would he be in Washington of a mission for Davis at that time and why else would he be in constant communication with a Lincoln intimate and make him a proposition? Robert Lockwood Mills believes the intimate was John F. Parker. I doubt it, but anything is possible.
            2. The material re Conrad did not come from an 1892 newspaper article, but from his book “A Confederate Spy”. His quote is probative of a conclusion that there was no Booth kidnapping conspiracy in September, 1864, which is all I intended to establish by reference to it. I did not quote the reference to the winter, because “capture or assassination” is ambiguous. However, almost all the evidence we have from that period (November through March) points to a conspiracy to decapitate by assassinations, not to capturing anyone. There is evidence that Conrad’s plot was also an assassination plot with kidnapping as a cover, and there is also evidence that he visited the boardinghouse.
            3. I did not use Finis Bates’s book; I used Demond’s original letters, copies of which I obtained from the Georgetown University Library. Though I grant that there is some inconsistency in his letters, the inescapable conclusion is that he was there on the 14th, that the Maryland-side sentries “had never previously made use of a password and countersign for traffic coming from Washington”, that at about 9:00 pm, Dana himself came and told them not to let anyone through without the password T. B., countersign T. B. Road, and that both Booth and Herold later gave both terms to the sentries, whereupon they were permitted to pass. He added that Drake, one of the other sentries, said “It is funny what is going on tonight”. That Booth and Herold knew the password and countersign is incontrovertible, as is the fact that such knowledge proves that there was treachery involved in the assassination and in the crossing.

            John

            • Fascinating info, John. Fascinating and a little spooky!

              Thanks for sharing.

              –Jim

              • John C. Fazio

                Jim:

                Thanks. I found it fascinating too. Unfortunately, there are a few out there who want more evidence. That’s fair enough. They shall have it.

                John

            • John,

              I want to make it clear that I don’t have a problem with the theory that the Confederate government may have had some role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. There are certain concrete and verifiable instances that demonstrate a “flirtation” between Booth and the Confederacy. One cannot dismiss that John Surratt was a courier for the Confederacy (though how important he truly was in this role is debatable) and one cannot deny that Booth implied to his conspirators that there would be support from “R——d”. However, there is a huge jump between exploring the possibilities and theories (as Hall, Tidwell, amd Gaddy did) and claiming those theories to be fact.

              It bothers me to see anyone, especially someone I respect like you, assertively claiming that their interpretation of an event is “obvious”, “certain”, “inescapable”, “incontrovertible”, or “fact”. It may be how you see a certain event and how you frame certain things in your mind, but, to me, using such terms of “certainty” only work to diminish your argument. Referring to any interpretation as “obvious” is a cheap trick to me. It only serves to bend weaker minds into agreeing with you because they confuse your assertiveness for reliability. Otherwise, it just insults the intelligence of those who have learned to rely on their own deductive reasoning skills. Good historical evidence doesn’t need bravado behind it.

              All I need to judge a piece of evidence is to understand the context in which it was created. For example, Demond’s accounts come way after the event, which is strike one. It appears (and I could be wrong about this since I have not done any considerable research on him) that his recollections were not written until after Bates started exposing his theory and he wrote them specifically to support Bates, which is strike two. Lastly, the fact that his account changed so much, (it escalated from Booth just causally saying he was going down T.B. road into both Booth and Herold giving a password and countersign) demonstrates that Demond is unreliable, the third and biggest strike. A true story should not change so drastically. With so much going against him, I do not see why his accounts should be viewed as reputable in anyway. Demond and his unreliable accounts are unworthy of even a mention, John. More than that, he is unworthy to have the trust and support of a well educated and respected man like yourself.

              Best,

              Dave

              • John C. Fazio

                Dave:

                I haven’t had so much fun since I was 11 riding the Cyclone at Coney Island. I’ll see you in March in Clinton, at which time and place, after you have read my book, I will accompany you to the nearest church, synagogue or mosque, where you will walk to the altar, drop to your knees and beg God for his forgiveness for not having seen the light sooner.

                John

                P.S. Did you read Wild Bill’s “Last Confederate Heroes”? He came to the same conclusions I did.

              • John C. Fazio

                Dave:

                I was going to let you slip away until March, but upon re-reading your response, I though I had better say something lest one or more of our colleagues draw the wrong conclusions.

                You acknowledge no more than a “flirtation” with Booth by the Confederate Government. Please ask yourself if the following can fairly be described as that:

                1. He met in 1863 in New Orleans with Confederate operatives George Miller and Hiram Martin.
                2. He met with four Confederate agents at the Parker House in Boston in the summer of 1864, after which he began to gather his action team.
                3. He made numerous trips to Canada to meet with the “Canadian Cabinet”, including March, 1864 (Montreal), April, 1864 (Toronto for 10 to 12 days) and 10 days in October, 1864 (Montreal). Several witnesses at the trial testified that they saw him in intimate conversations with Thompson, Clay, Tucker, Holcombe, the notorious George Sanders, and others, in Canada.
                4. He went to New York so often in 1864 and 1865 that some said it was his second home, meeting there with “the New York crowd” and with August Belmont and rich and powerful Copperheads at Belmont’s Fifth Avenue mansion.
                5. He was in constant contact with John Surratt who was in constant contact with Judah Benjamin and, according to Weichmann, with Jefferson Davis.
                6. A cipher square found in Booth’s hotel room after the assassination just happened to be identical to one found in the office of Judah Benjamin after Richmond fell.
                7. Chester said that his inference from the tenor of his conversation with Booth in New York was that Booth’s scheme was known by and had the cooperation of insurgent leaders. Consistent with this, he said that Booth had told him that he was low on funds and that he or someone else had to go to Richmond to get more.
                8. Arnold’s “Sam” letter states that he told Booth that he should “go and see how it (his conspiracy) will be taken in Richmond”.
                9. The Confederate agent “Johnston” wrote that Booth had said he will never be taken alive, that “he will bullet himself first:”.
                10. Thomas A. Jones, the Confederacy’s Chief Agent in Maryland, wrote that the Confederate Government knew all about Booth’ scheme.
                11. Confederate leaders did not deny that they had known of “the proposed kidnapping” and Professor William C. Cooper, the dean of Davis biographers, wrote that Davis knew about Booth’s kidnapping plans and did nothing to stop him.
                12. Arnold told of Booth’s necessary trips to New York for more money; Powell told Rev. Dr. Gillette that prominent men in Baltimore kept him in funds; Atzerodt and Herold were seen flashing rolls of bills in bars and restaurants; Arnold and O’Laughlen were said never to lack for funds and to have plenty of money, including gold; Booth continued a life of “dissipation” and “riotous living” despite having no regular source of income after the fall of 1864 and after he had lost his oil investment and surrendered all his assets to his mother (because the law provided for the confiscation of the assets of traitors).

                There is, of course, more. Much more.

                John

  22. Steve Williams

    What interests me most is the formation of the conspiracy itself and the movements of Booth and the other conspirators in the months prior. I’m also interested on how John Wilkes Booth killing of Lincoln effected the other members of his family, especially his brothers and sisters.

    • Steve,

      Art’s book does an amazing job showing Booth’s movements in all stages of the assassination plot. This book will appeal and satisfy that interest extremely well.

      The members of the Booth family, as you brought up, are such tragic characters. I’ve been so surprised at how many posts I find myself writing about their lives. My knowledge of them was near zero when I began, and now I have a good chunk of a book shelf devoted to them only. They were each such wonderfully fascinating people.

      By the way, the latest newsletter from the Junius Brutus Booth Society had a wonderful piece in it by Tom Fink about Joseph Booth. Young Joe had interested me for quite some time, and Tom did a great job flushing him out. I highly recommend it.

      Thanks for commenting!

  23. Steve Holley

    What captivates my interest concerning the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln is why the conspirators did not seem to have developed a well-coordinated escape plan. What caused Herold and Payne to become separated? Why did Mrs. Surratt decide to remain at her house on the most momentous evening of her life? With the exception of Booth, (who did pretty well for a guy with a broken leg}, why didn’t the rest of the conspirators develop a concrete plan to evaporate into the country-side? I suppose you could say that they thought more of the dastardly act than a self-preserving aftermath!

    • Steve,

      The lack of escape, especially on the part of Lewis Powell, is a big head scratcher. It has been written that Powell got lost in the confusing streets of D.C., but that excuse doesn’t really hold water to me. I, too, find the whole scenario to be a bit mysterious.

      Thanks for commenting!

      • In “It Didn’t Happen the Way You Think” I wrote that Booth and Powell (Payne, Paine) planned to escape together. Because Powell didn’t know his way around Washington, Herold was assigned to escort him to the Navy Yard Bridge. When Powell’s attack on Seward caused commotion and the servant cried “Murder,” Herold panicked. He headed for the bridge to meet with Booth, leaving Powell to fend for himself. Bob Mills

  24. ron

    whether there was a government conspiracy or not and what was contained in those missing pages of booths diary

  25. Laurie Verge

    Thanks for posting the article on the JAG employee handling the gun decades ago. One of us Boothies did just that this past week. Terry Alford, author of Fortune’s Fool (which I hope will set the assassination field on its ear when released this year), was being interviewed for a film project this past week and was allowed to don his white gloves and hold the pistol while it was out of its display case.

  26. Eva E. Lennartz

    Well, my points might be too simple, but I’ll try (I admit, I’d really like to have that book – but too expensive…). Here they go:

    Theater has been my passion from schooldays on (and for a while my workplace), and therein, in the drama and the “staging”, lies my paramount fascination. To make his “greatest”, immortalizing performance by murdering the president in a fully occupied theater while the play was going on, in a narrow box with three further persons, escaping by jumping 12 feet down on the stage, and then off stage via backstage seems surreal – like a James Bond movie – and to believe this crazy screenplay would work out undisturbedly totally unrealistic. Unbelievable that JWB indeed made it and actually escaped that smoothly (at first).

    He still makes people discuss about unsolved riddles ~ 150 years later, and provides a living for several who are engaged in preserving this history. And then there’s my fascination with Ft. Jefferson…

    Finally: Where did JWB break his leg, and who bored the peep hole?

  27. I,as a North Carolinian, find Sarah Slater a most interesting aspect of the Lincoln Assassination. I have
    many questions as to Booth’s involvement with her. George Atzerodt stated” that Booth went around with her a lot” in one of his confessions. She was a known Confederate courier and it seems Booth may
    have been her male escort on some occasions when she traveled to/from Montreal. His involvement with her seems to show that he himself was in the service of the Confederacy.

    • Herb Swingle

      I feel that John Surratt enjoyed Sarah Slater’s companionship while in Canada also.

  28. Scott S.

    One of the things most interesting to me is that Booth actually accomplished what I think were arguably his 2 most immediate goals: 1) to rid the world of the “tyrant” Lincoln and 2) to be immortalized for his deed. He didn’t, apparently, have the ability to envision the ripple effects of his actions. For example, he seemed to be ignorant as to what the real ramifications of his deed would be in the south (both immediately and post-war) and how he would be remembered. It is likely that Lincoln’s death (at this point in the war) was a detriment to the South he loved and though he certainly has been immortalized, it is as a villain rather than a hero. I think he truly believed that his action would somehow save the South as he knew it and that he would be hailed as a hero for all eternity. I think this gives us some very good insights into a few of Booth’s personality traits.

  29. For me, it’s the ironies. First, Booth killed Lincoln to avenge the South, but after the assassination- things were far worse off for the South during Reconstruction. Secondly, Booth thought he would be hailed as a hero by the South, but he wasn’t. Thirdly, his killing of Lincoln served to elevate the slain president to “sainthood status”- something that would have been completely sickening to Booth. Fourthly, if Booth had a notion that his act was to somehow change the outcome of the war in favor of the Confederacy- that, too, was a failed outcome. Lastly, how ironic that Booth- a man that had “everything”- gave it all up for the sake of the cause he acted for- and in the end- lost it all- his wealth, his life, and perhaps worst of all- his name. He will be forever known as the man who killed Lincoln- a deed that history has largely condemned and been repulsed by. Today, the slain Lincoln is laid to rest in a magnificent tomb that gives honor to his life and legacy. Scores of visitors have paid respect to him at that site. Booth, on the other hand, lies beneath the sod in the Booth family plot- no marker- nothing there to commemorate what he did. His legacy consists in having assassinated a president- and for that he is largely unsung and forgotten. These ironies, and more, are what I find absolutely fascinating about the Lincoln Assassination story.
    Bill Nash

  30. Laurie Verge

    Very well stated, Bill; and I think that many of us are drawn to the Lincoln assassination story because of those ironies. Whether we want to believe it or not, the study of the assassination is a story of what makes people tick and how fighting for a cause can often go astray. To me, the real story (as told by provable facts) is truly an American epic.

  31. Probably the most interesting character involved in the assassination and its aftermath was the assassins killer Boston Corbett. Corbett’s religious beliefs and his eccentricities make for a good side story to the drama that unfolded in the days following the assassination. I am surprised that there has not been a movie, or even a full length documentary on Corbett’s life.
    A native of England, Corbett led an eventful life from his time at Andersonville prison, to his incarceration in a Kansas asylum and subsequent escape in the late 1880s.

  32. Eileen Mulcahy

    I am interested in the Booth family history. It fascinates me that JW came from such a large and interesting family his father was a strict vegetarian, he made the family follow this same diet. He believed in the sanctity of all life. While at the same time could be violent when he was drinking and mentally unstable. JB Booth did write a letter to Andrew Jackson threatening his life if he allowed the execution of two men he felt should be spared. Junius Senior loved all mankind and was nit an elitist, or racist as his favorite son came to be. Junius did not permit the builders to even cut down trees on the farm when building the newer house, Tudor Hall. If his father had lived, I wonder if JW would still have acted the part of an assassin and killed President Lincoln.

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