DEAD: John Wilkes Booth

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

John Wilkes Booth (aged 26)
19th-century American stage actor and assassin of Abraham Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was an American actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. He was a member of the prominent 19th-century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and a well-known actor in his own right.He was also a Confederate sympathizer, vehement in his denunciation of Lincoln and strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery in the United States.

DEATH: Conger tracked down Jett and interrogated him, learning of Booth’s location at the Garrett farm. Before dawn on April 26, the soldiers caught up with the fugitives, who were hiding in Garrett’s tobacco barn. David Herold surrendered, but Booth refused Conger’s demand to surrender, saying, “I prefer to come out and fight.” The soldiers then set the barn on fire. As Booth moved about inside the blazing barn, Sergeant Boston Corbett shot him. According to Corbett’s later account, he fired at Booth because the fugitive “raised his pistol to shoot” at them.Conger’s report to Stanton stated that Corbett shot Booth “without order, pretext or excuse,” and recommended that Corbett be punished for disobeying orders to take Booth alive. Booth, fatally wounded in the neck, was dragged from the barn to the porch of Garrett’s farmhouse, where he died three hours later, aged 26. The bullet had pierced three vertebrae and partially severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him. In his dying moments, he reportedly whispered, “Tell my mother I died for my country.” Asking that his hands be raised to his face so that he could see them, Booth uttered his last words, “Useless, useless,” and died as dawn was breaking. In Booth’s pockets were found a compass, a candle, pictures of five women (actresses Alice Grey, Helen Western, Effie Germon, Fannie Brown, and Booth’s fiancée Lucy Hale), and his diary, where he had written of Lincoln’s death, “Our country owed all her troubles to him, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment.”

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