Shortly before Lincoln’s assassination, his son may have died as well.  He was saved by the murderer’s brother

Shortly before Lincoln’s assassination, his son may have died as well. He was saved by the murderer’s brother

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is often associated in the Czech consciousness with the famous saying “History repeats itself” by Miroslav Černý, known as Mirek Černý. This novel emphasized some of the parallels between the assassination of Lincoln and the assassination of John F. Kennedy a hundred years later, and indeed reshaped our firm view of it. However, it did not reach many more interesting parallels.

The assassination of the 16th President of the United States Abraham Lincoln, carried out on April 14, 1865 in Washington. John Wilkes Booth takes aim behind the President as Lincoln watches a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater.

| Image: Toilet, as illustrated by TM McAllister of New York, circa 1865-75, restored by Adam Cuerden, free work.

“You all know the names of Lincoln and Kennedy. Both were presidents of the United States, and both were killed,” Miroslav “Mirek” Černý said in the story “History repeats itself”, which, together with the presentation of another text “Pack of Cards”, became perhaps the most famous example of knowledge his singing and reciting.

Yes, we all know the names of Lincoln and Kennedy, as well as the names of their assassins John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald. Names like Robert Todd Lincoln or Edwin Booth are less familiar. But he is also closely related to the assassination of Lincoln. And they create more striking historical parallels than any songwriter could have imagined.

The brother of the murderer saved the life of the victim’s child

It may seem like a historical story told for fun, but it is too surprising to have any basis in fact: that the brother of Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, would save the life of Lincoln’s son, and that shortly before Lincoln’s assassination happened? With such a fantasy that someone wants to swing us?

It seems unbelievable, but this story is true. It was stated in a 1909 letter to Richard Gilder, editor-in-chief of the Century Magazine, and Robert Todd Lincoln himself, that is, Lincoln’s son. The man who saved his life was named Edwin Booth – and he was actually the brother of the assassin who shot Robert’s father, US President Abraham Lincoln. Ancient history was remembered again by the web Today I found out (I found out today).

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“The incident happened at the railway station when a group of passengers were making purchases from the conductor in the sleeping cars at night. The conductor stood on the platform near the door of the car, the height of the platform was equal to the level of the floor of the car, and of course there was a narrow gap between the platform and the car,” the president’s son explained his experience. .

He himself, according to his own words, was standing on the edge of the stage, and as there was a momentary stampede there, the slowly moving crowd pressed him against the wall of the car. At that time he did not feel that it was dangerous, he stood and waited for the line of people to continue and it was his turn to buy a ticket. But something unexpected happened.

“The train suddenly started moving. I was thrown and my feet slipped into the empty space between the platform and the carriage. At that time I was completely helpless alone, someone grabbed me by the collar of my coat, pulled me out and brought me back to safe ground. When I turned to thank my savior, I saw that it was Edwin Booth, whose face I certainly knew well. I immediately expressed my thanks, mentioning him by name,” recalled Robert Todd Lincoln.

Source: Youtube

Edwin Booth, the famous actor on the side of the President

Edwin Booth was an unknown name at the time. Along with his brothers Junio ​​Brutus Jr. and John Wilkes formed a famous and much-maligned trio at Ford’s Theater in Washington (where Lincoln was later assassinated). Edwin himself was considered perhaps the best Hamlet in the world of the 19th century and one of the greatest actors of his time.

Unfortunately, in 1864, a year before the death of the president, all three brothers appeared together in one play, which is in the production of Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar at that time. Edwin played the assassin of Caesar Brutus in this performance, Junius appeared as Cassius, and John Wilkes portrayed Mark Antony. Proceeds from the production of the play were donated to erect a statue of Shakespeare in New York’s Central Park, south of the main promenade. The statue is still there today.

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A curious historical irony is that, unlike John Wilkes, Edwin was a staunch supporter of Lincoln and a staunch supporter of the Confederacy – which also led to the relationship between him and his brother. However, he did not know Lincoln’s son personally, so at first he did not know who saved him from the train. He only found out a few months later when his friend, US Army Colonel Adam Badeu, wrote to him about it.

Badeu served with Robert Lincoln on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant, the commander-in-chief of the Confederate armies, and the president’s son told him his story of the night.

Murder instead of organized kidnapping

Unfortunately, John Wilkes did not share his brother’s political aspirations at all. He considered himself a proud Southerner, and after the outbreak of the American Civil War between the North and the South, he openly sympathized with the Confederacy and was looking for a personal way to contribute to the defeat of the hated Confederacy (which. Edwin, on the other hand, he was strongly supported).

When General Grant decided to end the exchange of prisoners of war in March 1864, realizing that by returning troops to the exhausted South he was increasing the war, John Wilkes planned to kidnap the president and intended to exchange Lincoln directly for the captured Southerners. . The kidnapping was supposed to take place in the spring of 1865 after a charity performance at Cambeel Military Hospital, but Lincoln ended up not attending the performance, and so Wilkes’ plan succeeded.

Soon after, the Union fell apart. On the third of April, 1865, his capital, Richmond, Virginia, fell, and six days later his main army surrendered. Frustrated, Wilkes changed his plan and decided to kill the president instead of kidnapping him.

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The assassination took place on April 14, 1865, during Lincoln’s visit to a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater in Washington. Police officer John Frederick Parker was supposed to guard the president’s casket, but he went to a nearby restaurant during a break. Even if he hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t have prevented the assassination – Wilkes was a very famous actor and Lincoln personally admired him, so he probably would have been allowed into the box anyway.

Shortly before half-past five in the evening, Wilkes entered the President’s box, closed the first of the pair of doors from the inside, and remained in the small, dark corridor between the hall and his own box. There he waited until the audience began to laugh at a funny place in the play; as if the actor knows this moment will come. As the audience laughed, he entered the box, came up behind the president and shot him in the back of the head. With a knife in his other hand, he struck Lincoln’s seatmate who tried to stop him, jumped from the box into the audience and fled the theater. He was helped by the fact that the audience did not know what was going on and at first thought that his departure was part of the performance.

Less than two weeks later, on April 26, 1865, he was shot after Union soldiers surrounded the farm where he was imprisoned and responded to their call to surrender, “You will not find me alive!”

Constant repetition of murder

For Edwin Booth, the killing was a great trauma; in just one minute he lost his brother, he lost his president, who supported him without wavering, and on top of that he was sure that his family’s relationship with the murderer would deprive him of his beloved profession, even though he was innocent. in the whole thing.

He recovered after only a few months and finally returned to the area after eight months, in January 1866. According to his friends, knowing that he saved the life of the president’s eldest son also brought him comfort in the rest of his life. life.

However, he didn’t really hate the memory of his brother, who had interfered so much in his life, and for a long time he asked that John’s body be given for a Christian burial. This wish was finally granted to him after almost four years in 1869 by President Johnson, and Edwin Booth buried his brother in the family plot at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, although the grave remained unmarked for obvious reasons.

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In later years, Robert Todd Lincoln was repeatedly encouraged to follow his father’s example and run for president, but he always declined such an offer. However, he at least held the post of US Ambassador to England for a time, as well as the post of Secretary of War. In his free time, his passion was astronomy.

He remained the only child of Abraham Lincoln’s four sons to live to adulthood, all his brothers died during youth. To the end of his life, he also regretted that he refused the invitation to accompany his father to the theater on the fateful day. Because if he did, he would be sitting in the back seat right next to the door and the killer would have to pass him. It is likely that he would not have seen him in the dark, on the contrary, Robert would probably have had a chance to realize in the light from the stage that the man had a weapon in his hand, and perhaps take some action. Instead of going to the theater, however, he went that evening to visit his friend and the President’s secretary, John Hay.

The last direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln was the grandson of Robert Lincoln “Bud” Beckwith, who died in 1985.