Booth and the assassination of Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by the killers, among them, John Wiles Booth. Although Booth was a member of the Confederacy, it is not clear whether he acted on the compulsion of the group in which he belonged or on his own accord under the strong influence of his childhood experiences. The history of his life tells of twisting circumstances that possibly made him be Lincoln’s assassin. The assassination of Lincoln was not as simple as it looked but it opened the eyes of a deeper analysis of what may have crystallized in the mind of the murderers, chiefly, Booth before the act.

Booth’s life experiences

Booth was said to be eccentric by his brother and sister. He has served in the Richmond Grays where he witnessed the murder of John Brown. This experience may have made him develop confidence and desire to avenge himself for the woes he and his people were facing. It is reported that at that time, the country was at war with itself.

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Lincoln supported the northern part while Booth hailed from the southern. This is the reason he hatched plans to kidnap the president in return for the soldiers who were held by the government at the time. Booth was quoted in his diary as being impenitent for his crimes and believed he did justice for the people that were under the alleged yoke of the government.

Booth’s view on slavery

It is understood that the country was having slaves at the time and the issue was not widely upheld throughout the country (Booth & Farjeon, 1971). The captured soldiers were to be the slaves in the government and Booth’s actions may have implied his opposition to the idea of slavery. He wanted slavery to be abolished in the country. His joining Confederacy did not influence him to change what was hatched in his mind long before.

There is further evidence of was motive in the murder of the president in the words of the killer after committing the felony” “”Sic Semper Tyrannis!”, which meant “Thus always to tyrants’. This may have meant that Lincoln’s rule was likened tyrannical. But the real cause is that Lincoln and Booth were from separate parts of the warring parties, northern and southern respectively. Major atrocities that were committed before by allegedly the government were blamed on Lincoln. An example is a raid on Richmond and Judson Kilpatrick.

Booth had earlier recruited people who would mastermind the assassination of the president, showing actually, that personal intentions played more than what was blamed on the Confederacy. He joined the Virginia military and smuggled drugs for the Confederacy. These actions testify the fact that he actually hated Lincoln. His multiple skills in military, espionage and acting in addition to his hatred made him a potential killer of the president. His hatred for the Republican Party also means he might have hated everything else that the president did and he was determined to cap it by killing Lincoln (Simkin nd).

McMeans (2010) and Oliver and Marion (2010) noted that Lincoln was killed because he was about to break the codes in which Blacks were enslaved and had no voting rights. Booth alleged that black slavery was a blessing to America, should have continued.


Of the many conspiracies that account for the death of Lincoln, the plot by Confederacy is much credited owing to incidents in the country and evidence linking booth to the Confederacy that actually killed the president. Despite the fact that Booth was evidential of the Confederacy, basing on the letters that linked to the group, he had personal accounts and motivations before the act.


Clarke, Asia Booth and Eleanor Farjeon (1971) The Unlocked Book; a memoir of John Wilkes Booth. The University of Michigan.

Stephen L  Harris (1892) Assassination of Lincoln a history of the great conspiracy trial of the conspirators by a military commission and a review of the trial of John H Surratt

The plot to kill Lincoln. Web. Retrieved from: <http://www.angelfire.com/my/abrahamlincoln/Plot.html>

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