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Abraham Lincoln: Eerie Coincidences With John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth and Abraham Lincoln

Polar opposites

There are a number of coincidences that link the 16th US President to the man who assassinated him. In actuality, these two historic figures were polar opposites. Booth was a Confederate sympathizer and hated that American slaves had been set free. He was also outspoken in his ire against Lincoln for signing the Emancipation Proclamation. Booth happened to be an actor from a family of Thespians and Lincoln enjoyed going to the theater. The President believed in peaceful resolutions and bringing the nation together after the Civil War. Wilkes was out for blood and plotted to murder both Lincoln and his Vice President Andrew Johnson. Booth despised Abolitionists and attended the hanging of Abolitionist leader John Brown. while Lincoln wanted America to heal after the war between the States. Booth believed that the war was unresolved even though Lee had surrendered to Grant. Like Granny (Irene Ryan) on The Beverly Hillbilies, he was certain the South would rise again. His reasoning was because Joseph E Johnson the Confederate Army General had continued fighting. In 1963 Booth was arrested after he was overheard saying that the President and the "whole damn Government" could go to hell but was later released. In today's society Booth would have been apprehended and jailed for his intent to do harm but in the 1800's the laws were not the same as today.

Robert Todd Lincoln

Robert Todd Lincoln

The Lincoln/Booth connection

Prior to that fateful night of April 15th, 1865 the son of John Wilkes Booth made a decision that his father would not have agreed with and it linked them to the Lincoln family in a different way. A few months before Lincoln was assassinated, his oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was standing on a platform waiting for a train in Jersey City, New Jersey. A number of passengers began to press the young man and he started falling backward, Robert Todd Lincoln fell into the open space that is between the platform and a moving train when suddenly a. hand appeared and snatched him by his coat collar and pulling the president’s son to safety. The younger Lincoln immediately recognized the man who had rescued him as Edwin Booth, a famous actor who was also the brother of fellow thespian John Wilkes Booth. and at times they performed together. In his recount of the situation, R$obert Todd said that as the was falling he felt his coat being violently seized and he was pulled to safety. When he turned to thank his benefactor he recognized him right away. Booth, however, was not aware of the identity of the man whose life he had just saved. He found out when he received a letter from a friend, a number of months later. Colonel Adam Badeau was an officer on the staff of General Ulysses S Grant and had heard the story from Robert Lincoln, who had by this time become a member and an officer of the Union Army.

Edwin Bootyh

Edwin Bootyh

The Mary's have it

In the letter, Badeau thanked Booth for his heroic deed, and the fact that he had saved the life of Abraham Lincoln's son gave Edwin some comfort. Booth felt that in some small way this atoned for the fact that his sibling John Wilkes had assassinated the US President who was Robert Lincoln Todd's father.. There is one more coincidence between these two families and it is related to their wives and mothers.. Abraham Lincoln's wife was Mary Todd Lincoln and his son Robert married Mary Harlan Lincoln. which meant that his mother and his wife had the same first name. Edwin Booth was married to Mary Devlin and upon her death, he married Mary. McVicker.The mother of Edwin and John Booth was Mary Holmes Booth making the total of females named Mary who were related to these men to be 5.

Booth at Lincoln's inauguration.

Booth at Lincoln's inauguration.

Destiny or conisidence

There are no records that indicate whether or not John Wilkes Booth knew of his brother's bravery but if he did he was no doubt outraged that the life that his sibling spared was that of the son of the man he hated. Was it fate, coincidence, destiny or happenstance that brought together for one brief moment connected the Lincoln and Booth families in a positive manner? One thing that is known is that Robert Todd Lincoln was the only survivor of his siblings to reach adulthood. Had he died that day when he fell then Mary Todd Lincoln would have outlived her husband and all 4 of their children. Robert later had Mary committed to a mental health facility and whatever her condition it surely would have been worse if she had lost her entire family. Robert Lincoln lived to the age of 83 and died on April 26, 1926. The man who saved his life died at age 59 on June 7th, 1893. This brings us to another eerie coincidence, related to this story. On June 9th, the day of Booth’s funeral Ford’s Theatre where his brother had assassinated the President collapsed, and 22 people were killed.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Cheryl E Preston

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