Tuesday, June 12, 2018

DC TRIP: A letter from John Wilkes Booth



We knew before going that the original Ford's Theater had collasped in 1893, after being used as a government office building. I don't know if other visitors knew that or not, because the theater folk made no effort to tell us. The current edition, built on the same site, opened in 1968, and another rennovation was completed in 2009.  It may be more or less like the original, but doesn't feel at all old.

Anyway, as a tourist site, it's just okay. The Peterson house across the street, where Lincoln spent his last hours, still stands, and would have made the tour more interesting - but it's currently closed for restoration. Boogers.

There's a museum in the basement, and another across the street, with a few items of interest. As part of our admission, we saw a 20-minute play called "One Destiny," which was pretty well done. It finds the owner of the theater and one of the actors shortly after the shooting, bemoaning the fact that the theater has been closed, and trying to make sense of events. In the process, they briefly assume the roles of various people involved, including one known to have a letter from John Wilkes Booth in pocket.  Booth had given him the letter before the shooting, and asked this guy to deliver it to a newspaper. Which brings us to the title of this post.

The actor pulls the letter out of his pocket and reads it aloud before crumpling it and throwing it off the stage. Because we were sitting in the front row, it fell at our feet, and we claimed it as a souvenir. As you see, it's in Booth's own handwriting, and bears his signature. We're still quaking in our boots that the theater may be coming after us to retrieve this historical artifact.

Other Booth stuff found in the museum:

The gun he shot Lincoln with. 

Here's how big it isn't.

After shooting Abe, the other guy in the booth jumped up and Booth stabbed him with this knife.

When Booth jumped out of Lincoln's booth onto the stage, this spur caught on the flag (or flag bunting) and he crash landed, hurting his leg.

The revolver Booth was carrying when he was killed.

JWB's switchblade.

Booth's pin-ups, including this full length view of actress Fanny Brown.

Booth's keys and compass.

Booth's boot. Looks like he had little feet.

1 comment:

Cap'n Bob said...

Sic semper tyrannis!