Monday, February 6, 2012

To Get Everyone's Mind Off the SuperBowl

A Little non-Beatles trivia for y'all for a Monday...this time it's Lincoln Lore:

* Something that has been almost completely forgotten in the years since April 13, 1865, when Lincoln was assassinated, was that his killer, John Wilkes Booth, was a wildly popular actor and was, at the time of his action, one of the most recognizable faces in the entire USA.  The shocked words on the lips of every American were not "President Lincoln was shot by some guy named John Wilkes Booth," but a rather more staggering "John Wilkes Booth shot the President!"

* Booth crept up behind the President as he was sitting in the President's box at Ford's Theater, shot him a couple of inches behind the ear with a single-shot Derringer pistol, and jumped down from the box to make his escape.  Unfortunately (or fortunately - remember he was a scumbag) he caught a spur on some bunting and so fell awkwardly, breaking his leg. He still had the presence of mind however to shout "Sic Semper Tyrannis!" (Thus always to tyrants) as he made his escape.

*Booth was in cahoots with two other assassins, George Atzerodt and Lewis Payne.  They were assigned to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward, respectively.  Payne managed to stab and wound Seward, but Atzerodt lost his nerve and rather than try to kill Johnson, instead spent the night drinking his face off.

*As he was hiding from the massive manhunt that was on his trail, and trying to cross the Chesapeake to get to the South, where he thought he'd be received as a hero, he ran across a doctor, who, not knowing who he was, set his leg and gave him a crutch.  For his action he was arrested and imprisoned as a co-conspirator in the assassination, and was imprisoned until 1869, when President Andrew Johnson pardoned him.  The doctor's name was Samuel Mudd, and it is because of him that the expression "his name is mud" came to be.

* Booth and his co-conspirator, David Herold, came across a sympathetic ex-Confederate soldier who gave him a newspaper to read.  Reading of the outrage of the nation, including the South, surprised and depressed him, and knowing now that the South would provide no refuge, started making panicky moves and hastened his capture.

* Booth was finally cornered in a tobacco-barn on the property of the Garrett farm.  He was ordered to come out and he refused (though Herold surrendered), so the Union soldiers set the barn ablaze.  Against orders, a soldier, Sergeant Boston Corbett, shot Booth through the slats of the barn, paralyzing him. It was recommended that Corbett be court-martialed, as he was under strict orders to take Booth alive.

*The bullet paralyzed Booth. He was dragged out of the barn and set on the ground.  Shortly before he died he asked that his mother be informed that he "died for [his] country." He asked that his hands be lifted  before his eyes so he could see them.  "Useless...useless," he uttered, and died.

Hope y'all enjoyed this.  If you did, let me know; I'll do another one at some point down the road.  Maybe the 1919 Chicago Black Sox scandal.


  1. Good stuff G-Man.

    Isn't there a photo of JWB in the background at Lincoln's swearing in?

    I hope you'll do the Black Sox story, I find it interesting. I even painted a portrait of Kennesaw "Mountain" Landis after reading about the scandal.

  2. Thanks Duck. Nice of you to say.

    As a preview, and by way of gentle correction, his name was not Kenesaw "Mountain" Landis. His name was "Kenesaw Mountain" Landis, so named because while she was pregnant, his mother looked upon Kenesaw Mountain in Georgia and thought it the most beautiful sight she had ever seen.

    And I'm unaware of a picture of him at Lincoln's swearing-in. I'll poke around the 'tubes to see what I can see.

  3. I'm just thankful that the Beatles were only mentioned once.

  4. @Josie, did John Lennon beat you up as a child or something? What the hell is wrong with you?

  5. Oh, this is good stuff! Enjoyed reading it. Especially found the explanation of "his name is mud" really neat.

    So, was John Wilkes Boothe a Beatles fan?

  6. Rob, thanks. Very kind of you. And no, Booth liked the Stones better, but there's no accounting for some Presidential Assasins' tastes.

  7. Surprising. I always figured JWB to be a Deadhead.