Right Or Wrong, God Judge Me: The Writings of John Wilkes Booth

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University of Illinois Press, 2000 - History - 171 pages
All of the known writings of John Wilkes Booth are included in this collection, a major new contribution to scholarship on Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and nineteenth-century theater history. More than one-half of this material has never been published before. Of this wealth of material, the most important item is a previously unpublished twenty-page manuscript discovered at the Players Club in Manhattan. Written by Booth in 1860 in a form similar to Mark Antony's funeral oration in Julius Caesar, it makes clear that his hatred for Lincoln was formed early and was deeply rooted in his pro-slavery and pro-Southern ideology. Also included in the nearly seventy documents are six love letters to a seventeen-year-old Boston girl, Isabel Sumner, written during the summer of 1864, when Booth was conspiring against Lincoln; several explicit statements of Booth's political convictions; and the diary he kept during his futile twelve-day flight after the assassination. The documents show that Booth, although opinionated and impulsive, was not an isolated madman. Rather, he was a highly successful actor and ladies' man who also was a Confederate agent. Along with many others, he believed that Lincoln was a tyrant whose policies threatened civil liberties.

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User Review  - CitizenClark - LibraryThing

There is no better way to assess the life of John Wilkes Booth than through this compilation of his writings. See the assassin as he saw himself. Read full review


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About the author (2000)

John Rhodehamel, Norris Foundation Curator of American Historical Manuscripts at the Huntington Library, is the author of The Great Experiment: George Washington and the American Republic and other books. Louise Taper, a noted Lincoln collector, owns the largest collection extant of John Wilkes Booth letters.

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