Knowing that, my daughter passed on to me an interesting fact she recently came across. Booth saved Lincoln’s life.
Meaning, Edwin Booth, brother of the assassin, and Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the president.
Here’s the story. Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926), the oldest of the president’s four sons and the only one to survive childhood, spent most of the Civil War years at Harvard. His mother refused to let him sign up to fight, a circumstance said to embarrass the president.
In February 1865, however, Robert joined the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant, remaining until the end of the war. Accompanying Grant to Appomattox Courthouse, Robert witnessed General Lee’s surrender. Robert Lincoln went with Grant to Washington DC on April 13, 1865, but declined to go with his parents to Ford’s Theatre the next night.
Edwin Booth, (1833-1893) was the middle son of Junius Brutus Booth, one of the finest Shakespearean actors of the day. Edwin himself became regarded as a great Shakespearean actor, playing Hamlet more than any actor before him, and some say, since, including one run of 100 consecutive nights.
Unionist Edwin and his brother John Wilkes Booth, a virulent secessionist, were not close. Apparently, Edwin once wrote that his brother was “insane” on the subject of secession and feared Lincoln would be made King of America.
The precise date of the first Booth/Lincoln connection is not known, but it occurred either late 1864 or early 1865. In a 1909 letter to Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine, Robert Todd Lincoln recalled his dangerous situation on a train platform in New Jersey, and Edwin Booth’s heroism. …
”There was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I [Robert] happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.”
Edwin Booth, however, did not recognize the young man whose life he’d saved. After joining General Grant’s staff, Robert shared the incident with Colonel Adam
the President Edwin had voted for.
Just for fun: This photo below is a Lincoln impersonator we met at a historic Gettysburg inn where we had a traditional 1860’s dinner. His recitation of the Gettysburg Address had us in tears.
Any other amazing historic coincidences to share? How about whether or not you saw/liked/disliked the movie Lincoln?
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