John Wilkes Booth
May 12th, 2013
On April 14th, 1865 President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater in Washington D.C. Many speculate as to the reasons Booth did it, and what happened to Booth in the following hours after the assassination. The question is: what caused Booth do it? And what really happened to Booth as a result?
The name of John Wilkes Booth conjures up a picture of America's most infamous assassin, the killer of perhaps the greatest president of the United States. However, J. Wilkes Booth led a very prominent life as an actor in the years preceding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. This period of his life is often forgotten or overlooked.
The booth family name in the nineteenth century was strongly identified with the American theater scene; there was no greater name among American actors at this time. Junius Brutus Booth, Sr. came to the United States from England in 1821 and established the Booth name upon the American stage. He left his legacy to be carried by his sons Edwin, John Wilkes, and Junius Brutus, Jr.
All of the Booth children but one, were born out of wedlock. John Wilkes Booth was born on May 10, 1838 in a log house. The family home was on property near Bel Air, Maryland, twenty-five miles south of the Mason- Dixon line. Elder brother Edwin supervised his younger brother's upbringing. Later Edwin and older sister Asia would write about their eccentric brother's behavior.
Francis Wilson, who wrote a biography of Booth in 1929, stated that Booth opened his stage career in 1855 at the Charles Street Theatre in Baltimore and began performing on a regular basis two years later. Once Booth embarked upon his acting career, he wanted the comparisons between himself and his late father to cease.
It was a common practice of theater companies to retain actors who would complement a touring, star figure. Booth eventually became one of these star...