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The National Republican drama critic said that Booth "took the hearts of the audience by storm" and termed his performance "a complete triumph". Each day he received fan mail from infatuated women. Family friend John T. Booth was one of the first leading men to appear there, playing in Charles Selby 's The Marble Heart. At one point during the performance, Booth was said to have shaken his finger in Lincoln's direction as he delivered a line of dialogue. Lincoln's sister-in-law was sitting with him in the same presidential box where he was later slain; she turned to him and said, "Mr.

Lincoln, he looks as if he meant that for you. He said that the actor thrilled him, prompting Booth to give Tad a rose. The National Intelligencer said of Booth's Romeo , "the most satisfactory of all renderings of that fine character," especially praising the death scene. Booth invested some of his growing wealth in various enterprises during the early s, including land speculation in Boston's Back Bay section.

Ellsler , manager of the Cleveland Academy of Music, and with Thomas Mears to develop oil wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, where an oil boom had started in August , following Edwin Drake 's discovery of oil there, [63] initially calling their venture Dramatic Oil but later renaming it Fuller Farm Oil.


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The partners invested in a The Fuller Farm Oil company was selling shares with a prospectus featuring the well-known actor's celebrity status as "Mr. Wilkes Booth, a successful and intelligent operator in oil lands". Booth was already growing more obsessed with the South's worsening situation in the Civil War and angered at Lincoln's re-election. Booth was strongly opposed to the abolitionists who sought to end slavery in the U. He attended the hanging of abolitionist leader John Brown on December 2, , who was executed for leading a raid on the Federal armory at Harpers Ferry in present-day West Virginia.

Lincoln was elected president on November 6, , and the following month Booth drafted a long speech, apparently undelivered, that decried Northern abolitionism and made clear his strong support of the South and the institution of slavery. In Booth's native Maryland, some of the slaveholding portion of the population favored joining the Confederate States of America.

Although the Maryland legislature voted decisively 53—13 against secession on April 28, , [69] [70] it also voted not to allow federal troops to pass south through the state by rail, and it requested that Lincoln remove the growing numbers of federal troops in Maryland. McHenry and the stationing of Federal troops in Baltimore. Taney in Ex parte Merryman that Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus in Maryland was unconstitutional.

As a popular actor in the s, Booth continued to travel extensively to perform in the North and South, and as far west as New Orleans. According to his sister Asia, Booth confided to her that he also used his position to smuggle the anti-malarial drug quinine , which was crucial to the lives of residents of the Gulf coast, to the South during his travels there, since it was in short supply due to the Northern blockade. Booth was pro-Confederate, but his family was divided, like many Marylanders.

He was outspoken in his love of the South, and equally outspoken in his hatred of Lincoln. Louis while on a theatre tour, when he was heard saying that he "wished the President and the whole damned government would go to hell.

U.S. History: John Wilkes Booth / Lincoln's Assassination

Senator John P. Hale of New Hampshire , and they became secretly engaged when Booth received his mother's blessing for their marriage plans. She was unaware of Booth's deep antipathy towards Lincoln. As the presidential election drew near, the Confederacy's prospects for victory were ebbing, and the tide of war increasingly favored the North. The likelihood of Lincoln's re-election filled Booth with rage towards the President, whom Booth blamed for the war and all of the South's troubles.

John Wilkes Booth

Booth had promised his mother at the outbreak of war that he would not enlist as a soldier, but he increasingly chafed at not fighting for the South, writing in a letter to her, "I have begun to deem myself a coward and to despise my own existence. Once in Confederate hands, Lincoln would be exchanged for Confederate Army prisoners of war held in Northern prisons and, Booth reasoned, bring the war to an end by emboldening opposition to the war in the North or forcing Union recognition of the Confederate government.

Throughout the Civil War, the Confederacy maintained a network of underground operators in southern Maryland, particularly Charles and St. Mary's counties, smuggling recruits across the Potomac River into Virginia and relaying messages for Confederate agents as far north as Canada.

In October, Booth made an unexplained trip to Montreal , which was a center of clandestine Confederate activity. He spent ten days in the city, staying for a time at St. Lawrence Hall, a rendezvous for the Confederate Secret Service , and meeting several Confederate agents there. Lincoln won a landslide re-election in early November on a platform that advocated the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery altogether.

By this time, Booth was arguing vehemently with his older, pro-Union brother Edwin about Lincoln and the war, and Edwin finally told him that he was no longer welcome at his New York home. Booth also railed against Lincoln in conversations with his sister Asia. He is made the tool of the North, to crush out slavery.

In the crowd below were Powell, Atzerodt, and Herold. There was no attempt to assassinate Lincoln during the inauguration. Later, Booth remarked about his "excellent chance He assembled his team on a stretch of road near the Soldier's Home in hope of kidnapping Lincoln en route to the hospital, but the president did not appear.

To Catch an Assassin - Chasing John Wilkes Booth

On April 12, , Booth heard the news that Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox Court House. He told Louis J. Weichmann , a friend of John Surratt and a boarder at Mary Surratt's house, that he was done with the stage and that the only play he wanted to present henceforth was Venice Preserv'd. Weichmann did not understand the reference; Venice Preserv'd is about an assassination plot. Booth's scheme to kidnap Lincoln was no longer feasible with the Union Army's capture of Richmond and Lee's surrender, and he changed his goal to assassination.

The previous day, Booth was in the crowd outside the White House when Lincoln gave an impromptu speech from his window. Lincoln stated that he was in favor of granting suffrage to the former slaves , and Booth declared that it would be the last speech that Lincoln would ever make. While there, he was told by John Ford's brother that President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Pumphrey for a getaway horse and an escape route. Booth informed Powell, Herold, and Atzerodt of his intention to kill Lincoln.

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. Instead, the Grants departed Washington by train that evening for a visit to relatives in New Jersey.

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. Ford, even having his mail sent there. 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. According to some accounts, Booth added, "I have done it, the South is avenged! Treasury Guard flag while leaping to the stage.

Kauffman questioned this legend in his book American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies , writing 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.

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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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

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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. Johnston called Booth's act "a disgrace to the age".


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Lee also expressed regret at Lincoln's death by Booth's hand. Not all were grief-stricken. 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. 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 :.

For six months we had worked to capture. But our cause being almost lost, something decisive and great must be done. I struck boldly, and not as the papers say.