Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L Swanson
Abraham Lincoln is the president credited with freeing the slaves and generally being an American hero, almost next to godliness. His life ended badly, with one bullet, shot at close range, by an actor named John Wilkes Booth. What followed was a twelve-day manhunt and ultimate capture of Booth, and many other people, over a hundred, associated with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Most of the people detained were let go, but several were executed, swiftly, in regards to the American Justice system.
Booth had not agreed with the president’s views or actions. He had wanted the Confederacy to win, which it hadn’t. Booth had opportunities to get close to the president, so he started a conspiracy to murder him.
Multiple people were involved. The original plan was to murder several people in line to the presidency. Booth knew that Lincoln would be at Ford’s theater seeing a play. As an actor, Booth was familiar with the theater’s layout. During the play, he went to the president’s booth, unguarded by anyone, and shot the president at close range. He then leapt onto the stage, said his famous words and escaped out the back of the theater.
Booth and his accomplices had the aid of the Surrat family. Booth used horses and boats to evade the law for twelve days. Rather than give himself up, Booth resisted. He was shot by a member of the militia that surrounded the barn that Booth was captured in.
He was buried in an unmarked grave. Each accomplice that could be connected to the conspiracy was imprisoned or executed, including Mary Surrat, the owner of Surrat’s Tavern where Booth conspired.
Booth is forever remembered as a traitor to the nation because he murdered one of America’s most loved presidents, despite some sentiments of the time.
What I liked
I’ve read some about Booth and Lincoln before, even a bit on the conspiracy side. It’s a piece of history that should be remembered. It’s also the event that caused Lincoln to become almost godlike in the mythology of the United States.
This is a pivotal piece of history. Perhaps if Booth had not murdered the president, we might think of Lincoln entirely differently today, maybe we would think he was a jerk. Martyrdom changes how we perceive a person as a society. In reality, there were quite a few people who didn’t like Lincoln back in the day. Booth essentially facilitated the opposite of what he had hoped to accomplish by murdering the president.
What I didn’t like
It’s a history book, so there’s always that bit of boring factor, but it was more entertaining than most history books.
Things just didn’t turn out the way Booth wanted.
Do you think Booth could have ever anticipated how things turned out in respect to Lincoln’s memory?
Can you imagine Lincoln being considered any other way than as an American hero?