Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

John Wilkes Booth

The first man to kill an American President was chased with all the wrath of a wounded nation. After the April 14, 1865, assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Booth left Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., via the stage door — appropriate for an actor — and then fled south on horseback through Maryland, assisted by accomplices along the road. Troops flooded the state's swamps in search of Booth, who secretly crossed the Potomac into Virginia on April 21, the same day the funeral train bearing Lincoln's body left Washington for its westward procession. Thanks to intelligence tip-offs and the confessions of accomplices, Booth was tracked to the Virginia farm of Richard H. Garrett, and on April 26 he was shot and killed by Union soldiers who had set the barn he was in on fire. Booth died on the farmhouse porch, defending his actions to the last.