John Wilkes Booth: His Impact On American History

1281 words - 6 pages

In society today, the smallest most unexpected event or person can make an enormous impact on the course of history as “we” know it. A perfect example of this was caused by John Wilkes Booth. In just a minute he changed history and America in a way that no one thought could or would ever happen.
Son of noted actor Junius Brutus Booth and one of ten children, John Wilkes Booth was born on May 10, 1838 near the town of Bel Air, Maryland (Historynet.com). At the ripe age of seventeen, he made his first stage appearance, following in the footsteps of his father. Booth became expert at interpreting Shakespearian works. As a result of that, his roles were mainly in plays like Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, and other plays by Shakespeare. Although he rarely prepared for his roles, his dark and muscular appearance made him a desirable candidate for many characters.
When the Civil War erupted, Wilkes was in his early twenties- still very young and naïve. Booth’s family mostly supported the Union. On the other hand, Booth was a supporter of the Confederates. As a child, his father’s farm had been operated by slaves, which influenced his views on the subject of the Confederates. Malicious and harmful emotions and opinions materialized from the war that led Booth to start creating schemes against President Lincoln. By 1864, at age 26, he created a plan to keep Lincoln hostage and planned to release him only if the Confederates in the war were freed. The plan began to crumble, so Booth decided to reach out to others who felt the same as he did. He met with several conspirators. The most crucial meeting was when Booth and a few others met at a woman named Mary Surratt’s boarding house in Washington D.C. to come up with a new plan of action according to an article by Salem Press.
After meeting with fellow conspirators and finding a few allies to team up with, Booth finally began to put his plans into action. Booth had heard that the President would be at the theatre he was supposed to be performing and he saw the perfect chance to execute his plot. President Lincoln was attending a play on Good Friday, 1865 at Ford Theatre. Booth was aware of this. Before the play began and the scheme was put into action, Booth had heavily intoxicated himself with brandy. The play began as expected but soon took a turn for the worst. As the plan rolled on, a drunken John Wilkes Booth entered into the President’s Box where Lincoln was watching and shot the president with one bullet. Meanwhile, Booth’s accomplice had attacked Secretary of State William H. Seward.
After all the commotion, Booth quickly jumped onto the stage and broke his leg. Despite that he still managed to escape. David E. Herold, the accomplice, ran away with Booth to Maryland to hide out. After a few days of life in secrecy, the then began to make their way to a place called Richard Garrett’s Farm in Bowling Green, Virginia. (Salem Press).
On April 26, 1865, ten days after...

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