Monday, September 22, 2008

Biography of John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth (May 10, 1838 – April 26, 1865) was an American actor from Maryland, who fatally shot President of the United States Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Lincoln died the next day from a single gunshot wound to the head, becoming the first American president to be assassinated.

Booth was a successful professional stage actor of his day and a member of the prominent Booth family of actors. He was also a Confederate sympathizer who expressed vehement dissatisfaction with the South's defeat in the Civil War and Lincoln's proposal to extend voting rights to freed slaves.

Booth, and a group of co-conspirators led by him, planned to kill Abraham Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward in a desperate bid to help the tottering Confederacy's cause. Although Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered four days earlier, Booth felt that the war was not yet over because Confederate General Joseph Johnston's army was still fighting Union Army General Sherman. Of the conspirators, only Booth was successful in carrying out his part of the plot.

Following the shooting, Booth fled by horseback to southern Maryland and eventually to a farm in rural northern Virginia, where he was tracked down and killed by Union soldiers two weeks later. Several of the other conspirators were tried and hanged shortly thereafter.

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