• Weird History

14 Fascinating Things No One Ever Told You About John Wilkes Booth

When it comes to infamous assassins with three names that killed vastly influential historical figures, John Wilkes Booth is, at the very least, in the top three. Like James Earl Ray and Lee Harvey Oswald, Booth shot his way into the history books by becoming the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln, one of America’s most beloved presidents. Like the other previously mentioned killers, Booth has become a bit of a historical celebrity at the center of one of the most-talked about events to ever occur in America. However, there is still a wealth of fascinating information about the man himself that few know.

John Wilkes Booth lived an incredibly interesting life before, during, and after his assassination of Lincoln. From his family background to the machinations that led to his fateful decision (and including a large number of unlikely coincidences), the story of John Wilkes Booth is definitely one worth telling.

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  • Booth Starred In A Production Of Julius Caesar Months Before The Assassination

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    History is rife with fantastic ironies, and this is one of the all-time great examples. A few months before John Wilkes Booth’s infamous assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Booth and his brothers starred in a production of Julius Caesar. Not only is the play the inspiration for their father’s terrific name, it also happens to be the story of an important world leader getting assassinated. Booth would even borrow a supposed quote from the real-life Brutus when killing the president: “Sic semper tyrannus!”

  • One Year Before The Assassination, His Brother Edwin Saved Lincoln's Son's Life

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    Sometimes, history seems way too coincidental to be real. In what appears to be a twisted case of karma gone wrong, it eventually came to light that the Lincolns and the Booths were linked before the fateful assassination. John Wilkes Booth’s super-famous older brother Edwin just so happened to save the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd, a year before John killed Abe. Robert Todd had almost fallen under a moving train, and Edwin pulled him back in the nick of time.

  • He Tried To Kidnap Lincoln A Month Before The Assassination

    Photo: Biography

    The personal links between Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth keep piling up. While their earlier run-ins were merely coincidence, at this point in their history, Booth started willfully trying to bring the two together. Before eventually deciding to murder the president, Booth first tried a less violent approach when he plotted to kidnap Lincoln instead. This plot occurred a month before the eventual assassination, but fizzled when Lincoln simply didn’t show up where Booth thought he would. Booth moved on to Plan B.

  • He Belonged To A Crazy Right-Wing Political Party

    Photo: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons

    John Wilkes Booth wasn’t just a lone wolf, as history sometimes portrays him. Booth was involved in wacko politics long before the decision to snuff out he of the stovepipe hat. Booth belonged to the Know Nothing Party, an extreme right-wing group that hated Lincoln and violently opposed immigration and integration. The party was so named because of its intense secrecy, as members were sworn to say they knew nothing if ever asked. It was through this organization that Booth began making the connections that would lead to his anti-Abe plotting.