In composing and researching this past episode, it presented some challenges and not just on getting the information right. The manhunt itself lasted from April 14th through April 26th. The book “Manhunt” by James Swanson is highly recommended by the way. He also wrote “Bloody Crimes” and “Chasing Lincoln’s Killer.” All three of these books were used in the research for this episode. All of which are detailed books on one of the darkest times in US history. The information was rich and that was a challenge. Tons of stuff to sift through in JUST those three books!
The reward for Booth’s capture was $100,000 in 1865. In today’s money that would be $1,724,834.36. The outcome for the other conspirators led to the hanging of the first woman in US history, Mary Surrat. Her son, John was never charged. Booth used the Surrat boardinghouse as his place to plan the assassination plot.
Booth also attacked Major Henry Rathbone after he shot Lincoln. Rathbone attempted to stop Booth, but Booth slashed him on his left arm so badly that Rathbone later fainted from blood loss. After landing on the theater stage, Booth broke his leg. After that he slashed and shoved the orchestra leader, William Withers, Jr. The man holding Booth’s horse was Josephn Burroughs. Burroughs was unaware of what just happened inside and Booth hit Burroughs with the butt of his knife before riding off to escape.
After the assassination, Booth was reportedly shocked he hadn’t received more support from the South. However, in several newspapers (like the Montgomery Daily Mail and Raleigh Standard expressed their grief at the slain President. It was denounced as a “dark and bloody deed” and “profound grief” was expressed in those papers. Booth described his experience after getting no Southern support as “I am here in despair,” wrote Booth in his journal on April 21. “And why? For doing what Brutus was honored for, what made [William] Tell a hero. And yet I for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew am looked upon as a common cutthroat.”
Clearly nothing went as planned except for the fact that Lincoln was shot and killed that night. This topic is less controversial and more studied due to the shock as the first President in US history had been assassinated. This is a topic I could talk about for a whole semester. Not that the topic is so macabre that its fun, but that the characters and events are so fascinating. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Please share!