Who Was John Wilkes Booth?

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John Wilkes Booth. Public domain.

In Traveler 2: An Uncivil War, Tommy, Nick, and Mary meet John Wilkes Booth, the man who would eventually assassinate (kill) President Abraham Lincoln.

Why would someone want to kill the President of the United States?

When Abraham Lincoln was the President, the United States was fighting against itself in the Civil War, the North (the Union) vs. the South (the Confederates). The Southern states didn’t want to get rid of slavery and didn’t want the federal government telling them what to do, so they decided to break away from the United States and make their own country, the Confederate States of America.

They fought for four long years, from April 1861 – April 1865. It was a long, brutal, bloody war and thousands of people died. The South surrendered to the North in Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor during this time. His father and brother were famous actors, too. He wanted the South to win the war and blamed President Lincoln. He and his friends plotted to kidnap President Lincoln in 1864, but it didn’t happen.

When the North won, Booth was very angry. He set the plan in motion to kill President Lincoln. He had several friends to help him.

On the night of April 14, 1865, President Lincoln, his wife, and two of heir friends went to Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. to watch a play, Our American Cousin. During a part in the play, Booth sneaked up the stairs to where the President was sitting and shot him in the head.

He then jumped to the stage and broke his leg, but he managed to run off and escape with one of his friends. They managed to stay hidden for a few days, but were caught while hiding out in a barn. Booth was shot and killed. All of his friends who were in on the plot were arrested and later hanged for their crimes.

After he was shot, President Lincoln was brought to the house across the street, but died early the next morning.

File:Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders photo portrait.jpg
Abraham Lincoln. Credit: Alexander Gardner. Public domain.

This is a very short history of the Civil War. For more information on the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, or John Wilkes Booth, check out these websites.




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