John Wilkes Booth
By: John K.
Michigan, Age 11
John Wilkes Booth was born on May 10, 1836. He had nine other siblings. He was born in Bel Air, Maryland on the family farm. Johnís parents were Junius Booth and Mary Ann Holmes, they were British and came to the United States in 1821. John went to mainly private schools, and a few boarding schools. He went to a military school when he was a teen. They say he was spoiled and missed a lot of school because of his dadís acting career. They had to travel quite a bit. He stopped going to school when his father passed away in 1852. His father was called one of the most famous actors on the American stage. John wanted to be a famous actor like his father.
In 1855 when he was 17, J. Wilkes Booth made his debut on stage. He played the Earl of Richmond in Shakespeare's Richard III. In 1858 he became a member of the Richmond Theatre, and was doing well in his acting career. In his reviews they called him the handsomest man in America. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, had black hair and was athletic.
In 1859 John was present at the execution of John Brown. He was an abolitionist who had tried to start a slave uprising. He was excited that justice was done and wrote that in his diary. John had joined a group called the Richmond Greys, just to attend the event and stood near the scaffold with other armed men to guard against any rescue attempt. He believed that abolitionists were traitors and they deserved to be killed like John Brown. The rest of his family was against slavery but not John, he had always been a supporter of the South. He believed the Civil War was necessary to maintain Southern freedom. John did not agree with the Northern position that slavery had to be outlawed.
On November 9, 1863, President Lincoln saw John Booth in a play at Ford's Theater. President Lincoln sat in exactly the same box that he was later assassinated in. Booth actually attended Lincoln's second inauguration on March 4, 1865. He was in a group with other southern sympathizers in Washington. The group's plan was to kidnap President Lincoln and take him to Richmond, Virginia and exchange him for Confederate prisoners. John Booth was mad that this plan had failed and was upset that President Lincoln wanted to give voting rights to the blacks. He started to plan how he would assassinate the president.
John Booth found out that President Lincoln would be at the theater on the night of April 14th. He sneaked into his private box and fixed the door so he could come back later and kill him. It was Good Friday, April 14, 1865. President Lincoln was attending the play, Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington. Around 10 pm John Wilkes Booth entered President Lincolnís private box and shot him in the back of the head. The president died the next morning. After he shot Lincoln, he jumped to the stage and shouted ďThe South is avenged!'' President Lincoln died the next morning. John Wilkes Booth broke his leg when he jumped to the stage. He was able to get away and went to get treated by Dr. Mudd, who later went to jail for helping him. John Booth tried to escape but was killed by Union Soldiers on April 26th, 1865. They say that President Lincoln had a nightmare about his own death about a week before it happened. There are also people that think John Wilkes Booth got away and was not killed by the Union Soldiers. Itís called the Conspiracy Theory.