John Wilkes Booth life and biography

John Wilkes Booth picture, image, poster

John Wilkes Booth biography

Date of birth : 1838-05-10
Date of death : 1865-04-26
Birthplace : Maryland, United States
Nationality : Am
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2010-06-10
Credited as : Assassin, Abraham Lincoln kidnaper,

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John Wilkes Booth, born May 10, 1838 in Maryland, United States - died April 26, 1865 in Virginia, United States was an American assassin.

John Wilkes Booth lives in American history as the first person to assassinate a president of the United States. An acclaimed actor, Booth's extreme dedication to the Confederate cause during the Civil War compelled him to undertake the assassination as a means of striking back at the victorious Union. Born in 1838 in Maryland, Booth was born into a family of actors. His father and two brothers were also well-known for their acting, and John felt overshadowed by the career of his father.

Booth began his acting career in 1855, but early audiences and fellow actors found little to suggest any talent or future greatness in him. However, by 1858 Booth had confounded expectations by developing into a star. While most critics felt he lacked real depth and intellectuality in his performances, he made up for it with sheer star power. Having become popular with audiences and critics who found his intense acting style and good looks irresistible, Booth began touring in various productions while nursing an intense dislike for the North and the Abolitionist movement.

When the Civil War began, Booth was largely confined to touring the North, where he continued to make his sympathies known, even attempting to join various Confederacy-related rebel groups. In 1863, he started plans on an operation to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln, hoping to ransom him for Southern prisoners. A date, March 20, 1865, was set, but when Lincoln did not appear in the scheduled place, the plan fell apart.

With the end of the war in April of 1865, Booth's kidnapping plan came to nothing. He then discovered that Lincoln was scheduled to attend the play "My American Cousin" at Ford's Theater in Richmond, Virginia. Booth entered the theater during the performance, and shot Lincoln once in the head. He leapt from the President's box to the stage, where he broke his left leg. Escaping by horse, he and a fellow conspirator made it to Maryland, where Booth found a doctor to set his leg. He and the other man, David Herold, then hid in a nearby forest, while government troops searched for him.

The pursuing troops finally caught up with Booth in Virginia, where he and Herold had hid in a tobacco farmer's barn. On April 26, Herold surrendered upon the arrival of the troops, but Booth refused to come out. The troops eventually set fire to the barn, and Booth was shot once he was sighted by the troops, though whether he committed suicide or was shot by a soldier is open to debate.

Booth's collaborators, both actual and imagined, including Herold, George Atzerodt, Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt, and Lewis Payne, were tried and hanged, in the case of the aforementioned individuals, or sentenced to life imprisonment as three further men, Dr. Samuel Mudd (who set Booth's leg after the assassination), Samuel Arnold and Michael O'Laughlin, were.

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