Booth a hero?

frontrank2

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Taken from the Ford's Theater National Historic Site Facebook page - June 28, 2021:
John Wilkes Booth presumed that he would be heralded as a hero by many, for assassinating President #AbrahamLincoln. After the murder, during his 12 days on the run, he wrote sporadically in a small leather datebook that he had in his possession. There he recorded his personal feelings about his own actions, and his reactions to public sentiment that he was reading from newspapers around the country. These entries reveal the progression of his thoughts as he realized that he was not seen as a hero, but instead was being condemned as a cowardly villain by people throughout a devastated nation.
Booth wrote, “After being hunted like a dog through swamps, woods, and last night being chased by gun-boats till we I was forced to return wet cold and starving, with every man’s hand, against me. I am here in despair. And why; For doing what Brutus was honored for. What made Tell a Hero. And yet I for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew. Am looked upon as a common, cutthroat.”
For more, and for the complete transcript of Booth’s diary: https://bit.ly/3w3DbhQ
#MuseumMonday
#FordsTheatreNPS

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Image: Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site Museum Collection [FOTH 3221], diary of John Wilkes Booth, opened to the first entry after the assassination, April 14, 1865.
 

Seduzal

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Taken from the Ford's Theater National Historic Site Facebook page - June 28, 2021:
John Wilkes Booth presumed that he would be heralded as a hero by many, for assassinating President #AbrahamLincoln. After the murder, during his 12 days on the run, he wrote sporadically in a small leather datebook that he had in his possession. There he recorded his personal feelings about his own actions, and his reactions to public sentiment that he was reading from newspapers around the country. These entries reveal the progression of his thoughts as he realized that he was not seen as a hero, but instead was being condemned as a cowardly villain by people throughout a devastated nation.
Booth wrote, “After being hunted like a dog through swamps, woods, and last night being chased by gun-boats till we I was forced to return wet cold and starving, with every man’s hand, against me. I am here in despair. And why; For doing what Brutus was honored for. What made Tell a Hero. And yet I for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew. Am looked upon as a common, cutthroat.”
For more, and for the complete transcript of Booth’s diary: https://bit.ly/3w3DbhQ
#MuseumMonday
#FordsTheatreNPS

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Image: Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site Museum Collection [FOTH 3221], diary of John Wilkes Booth, opened to the first entry after the assassination, April 14, 1865.
Thanks for sharing this awesome article. Never seen this before.
 

1867crete

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With such noble men on each side of the conflict, how could a assassination like Booth’s be praised? Sharpshooters and snipers were not looked on very highly and they were targeting combatants. Taking out a leader almost never ends a conflict. It just allows the next in line to fill in. Very interesting article thanks for sharing!
 

FedericoFCavada

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I think you will find that assassins often regard themselves as heroes, and are similarly shocked or disappointed to learn that people view them generally as underhanded or with outright contempt. Political and religious fanaticism are powerful motivators and cause any number of delusions.

Aleksander Berkman, a Litvak Jew born in Russian Lithuania whose father had been permitted to settle in St.-Ptersburg, but who was later required to move after his elder's death, ultimately immigrated to the United States, became further radicalized by the struggle for the 8-hour day, the Haymarket riot and bombing, and the hangings of the three German-born and one Texas-born [CSA Civil War veteran, post-war "scalawag" too] martyrs the following year. He gravitated to anarchism, particularly the "propaganda by the deed" school that sought to inflict damage and losses to their presumed class enemies or persons who symbolized or even served as emblems of the state, like royalty for example. After the Pennsylvania state militia intervened to break the strike of steel workers who'd been locked-out of the Homestead steel plant, and fought a pitched battle with company-hired Pinkerton detectives in defense of their jobs and community, Berkman set about plotting the murder of Henry Clay Frick, who'd been left in charge by Andrew Carnegie while he was in Scotland. Initially, in emulation of the emergent culture of political terrorism of the late 19th century, he tried to build a bomb. Eventually, he settled on a scheme in which he'd arm himself with a revolver and a dagger contrived from a steel file, enter Frick's office, and kill him and then himself. His fellow Russian Jewish anarchist comrades, Goldman and Fedya Aronstam/Stein would then publicize his motives...

Posing as a labor broker from New York in his new suit of clothes and spiffy new bowler hat, promising to supply Russians just off the boat as scabs/replacement workers, he eventually pushed aside the secretary who opened the office door ajar to announce his presence to Frick, raced over to Frick's desk, and managed to fire two shots before he was tackled and knocked down. In the ensuing struggle, he managed to stab Frick three times with the file knife, but none proved fatal. While he was in jail, he learned that the episode inflamed resentment against the strikers, helping lead to the strike's defeat along with state intervention on the side of the factory owners, and that his fellow prisoners responded with confusion over his motives, assuming that he had some sort of personal feud or dispute with Frick. He even was condemned by a fellow prisoner, a striking Homestead worker accused of throwing dynamite at the Pinkertons during the 12-hour battle, who exclaimed that he had no business doing what he did, and that the strike was none of his business! Berkman served 14 of his 22 year sentence, during which he had ample time to reflect that it really was impossible to blow up a social relationship...

More typical assassins have religious or nationalist leanings, like John Wilkes Booth and his conspirators or Gavrilo Princip of Sarajevo.
 
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DixieRifles

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FedericoFCavada

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He was in his own mind, and to some who cheered what he did. But I think history has shown the truth of the matter. He was no hero and probably harmed reunification far more than ever would have happened with Lincoln still in the White House.
Thing is, it was not just his own mind... I mean, sure, an actor with a bit of self-possession and self-absorption actually did the deed, thinking himself Brutus to the power-mad Julius Caesar, but it was an actual honest-to-god conspiracy that did not target Lincoln alone, but sought out members of the cabinet too... Of course, given that this was the first successful attempt on the life of the President of the United States, it was a very shocking thing indeed, and in the general zeal to apprehend the perpetrators many relatively insignificant people were swept up along with some of the conspirators, while others eluded scrutiny. There is a mantra that all assassins in U.S. history are simple loners or wing-nuts or lunatics or individual fanatics, but perhaps only Charles Julius Guiteau, the murderer of James Garfield, Civil War veteran and POTUS 20, fits the overarching simplification of the lone assassin. That, and Jodie Foster-obsessed stalker and attempted assassin John Warnock Hinckley, Jr. who shot Ronald Reagan, his press secretary, a police officer, and a secret service agent in Washington DC in 1981...
 
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