As Merlin says, "Slavery made him immoral, war made him a murderer, and necessity, revenge and delusion made him an assassin.
The novel's searing indictment of the dehumanizing evil effects of a vicious Civil War onma a young man's psyche is compelling and sticks in your mind long after finishing the book. Highly recommended, deserves to be ranked among the best of Civil War novels. The Paid Companion of J. Wilkes Booth. Jan Merlin , William Russo. Friend of J. Wilkes Booth? Herold would assist in their escape into Virginia. By targeting Lincoln and his two immediate successors to the presidency, Booth seems to have intended to decapitate the Union government and throw it into a state of panic and confusion.
The possibility of assassinating the Union Army's commanding general as well was foiled when Grant declined the theatre invitation at his wife's insistence. Instead, the Grants departed Washington by train that evening for a visit to relatives in New Jersey. Booth had hoped that the assassinations would create sufficient chaos within the Union that the Confederate government could reorganize and continue the war if one Confederate army remained in the field or, that failing, to avenge the South's defeat. In his analysis of Lincoln's assassination, Thomas Goodrich writes:.
All the elements in Booth's nature came together at once—his hatred of tyranny, his love of liberty, his passion for the stage, his sense of drama, and his lifelong quest to become immortal. Booth had free access to all parts of the theater as a famous and popular actor who had frequently performed at Ford's Theatre and who was well known to its owner John T.
The Paid Companion of J.Wilkes Booth
Ford, even having his mail sent there. He bored a spyhole into the door of the presidential box earlier that day so that he could check that his intended victim had made it to the play and observe the box's occupants. John Wilkes Booth slipped into Lincoln's box that evening at around 10 p.
Booth's escape was almost thwarted by Major Henry Rathbone, who was present in the Presidential box with Mrs. Mary Todd Lincoln. Booth stabbed Rathbone when the startled officer lunged at him. Booth then jumped from the President's box to the stage, where he raised his knife and shouted " Sic semper tyrannis " Latin for "Thus always to tyrants," attributed to Brutus at Caesar's assassination and the Virginia state motto , while others said that he added, "I have done it, the South is avenged!
Treasury Guard flag while leaping to the stage. Historian Michael W. Kauffman questioned this legend in his book American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies , writing in that eyewitness accounts of Booth's hurried stage exit made it unlikely that his leg was broken then. Kauffman contends that Booth was injured later that night during his flight to escape when his horse tripped and fell on him, calling Booth's claim to the contrary an exaggeration to portray his own actions as heroic.
Booth was the only one of the assassins to succeed. Powell was able to stab Seward, who was bedridden as a result of an earlier carriage accident. Seward was badly wounded but he survived. Atzerodt lost his nerve and spent the evening drinking alcohol; he never made an attempt to kill Johnson. In the ensuing pandemonium inside Ford's Theatre, Booth fled by a stage door to the alley, where his getaway horse was held for him by Joseph "Peanuts" Burroughs.
The owner of the horse had warned Booth that the horse was high spirited and would break halter if left unattended. Booth left the horse with Edmund Spangler and Spangler arranged for Burroughs to hold it. The fleeing assassin galloped into southern Maryland, accompanied by David Herold, having planned his escape route to take advantage of the sparsely settled area's lack of telegraphs and railroads, along with its predominantly Confederate sympathies.
He thought that the area's dense forests and swampy terrain of Zekiah Swamp made it ideal for an escape route into rural Virginia. The fugitives then continued southward, stopping before dawn on April 15 for treatment of Booth's injured leg at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd, St. Mudd later said that Booth told him the injury occurred when his horse fell. As the two fugitives hid in the woods nearby, Cox contacted Thomas A. Jones, his foster brother and a Confederate agent in charge of spy operations in the southern Maryland area since Stanton for information leading to the arrest of Booth and his accomplices, and Federal troops were dispatched to search southern Maryland extensively, following tips reported by Federal intelligence agents to Col.
Lafayette Baker. Federal troops combed the rural area's woods and swamps for Booth in the days following the assassination, as the nation experienced an outpouring of grief. On April 18, mourners waited seven abreast in a mile-long line outside the White House for the public viewing of the slain president, reposing in his open walnut casket in the black-draped East Room. A cross of lilies was at the head and roses covered the coffin's lower half. Thousands of mourners arriving on special trains jammed Washington for the next day's funeral, sleeping on hotel floors and even resorting to blankets spread outdoors on the Capitol's lawn.
Prominent abolitionist leader and orator Frederick Douglass called the assassination an "unspeakable calamity" for African Americans. Great indignation was directed towards Booth as the assassin's identity was telegraphed across the nation. Newspapers called him an "accursed devil," "monster," "madman," and a "wretched fiend. After the assassination Northerners slid the Booth card out of their albums: some threw it away, some burned it, some crumpled it angrily. In Savannah, Georgia, the mayor and city council addressed a vast throng at an outdoor gathering to express their indignation, and many in the crowd wept.
John Wilkes Booth
Confederate Gen. Joseph E.
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Johnston called Booth's act "a disgrace to the age". Lee also expressed regret at Lincoln's death by Booth's hand. Not all were grief-stricken, however. Elsewhere in the South, Lincoln was hated in death as in life, and Booth was viewed as a hero as many rejoiced at news of his deed. Other Southerners feared that a vengeful North would exact a terrible retribution upon the defeated former Confederate states. Booth lay in hiding in the Maryland woods, waiting for an opportunity to cross the Potomac River into Virginia.
He read the accounts of national mourning reported in the newspapers brought to him by Jones each day. Booth was surprised to find little public sympathy for his action, especially from those anti-Lincoln newspapers that had previously excoriated the President in life.
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News of the assassination reached the far corners of the nation, and indignation was aroused against Lincoln's critics, whom many blamed for encouraging Booth to act. The San Francisco Chronicle editorialized:. Booth has simply carried out what Booth wrote of his dismay in a journal entry on April 21, as he awaited nightfall before crossing the Potomac River into Virginia see map :.
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The funeral train slowly made its way westward through seven states, stopping en route at Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Trenton, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis during the following days. In the cities where the train stopped, 1. Aboard the train was Clarence Depew, president of the New York Central Railroad, who said, "As we sped over the rails at night, the scene was the most pathetic ever witnessed. At every crossroads the glare of innumerable torches illuminated the whole population, kneeling on the ground.
Instead of reaching Virginia, however, they mistakenly navigated upriver to a bend in the broad Potomac River, coming ashore again in Maryland on April The year-old Herold knew the area well, having frequently hunted there, and recognized a nearby farm as belonging to a Confederate sympathizer. The farmer led them to his son-in-law, Col.
John J. Hughes, who provided the fugitives with food and a hideout until nightfall, for a second attempt to row across the river to Virginia. Booth wrote in his diary:.
With every man's hand against me, I am here in despair. And why; For doing what Brutus was honored for And yet I for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew am looked upon as a common cutthroat. The pair finally reached the Virginia shore near Machodoc Creek before dawn on April There, they made contact with Thomas Harbin, whom Booth had previously brought into his erstwhile kidnapping plot.
Harbin took Booth and Herold to another Confederate agent in the area named William Bryant who supplied them with horses. Booth and Herold had been led to the farm on April 24 by William S.