“It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Macbeth, V.5.
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[This section is a work in progress. In time I will add articles about Booth, his family, and the assassination. For further reading, please see my Links page.]

The Most Famous Man in America is the result of almost two year’s worth of research. My interest in the topic was piqued initially when I read David Robertson’s fascinating novel Booth, which characterized Booth as an enigmatic, charismatic, dramatic figure. I had never thought of Booth being anything more than a historical footnote, The Assassin of Abraham Lincoln. And what little historical knowledge I knew of him (learned from traditional American history teaching), was that he was an insane, third-rate actor from an acting family, embodying everything “evil” about the cause of the Confederacy. In contrast, I thought Abraham Lincoln was a sainted, benevolent visionary whose life's work was to create an equal society. I quickly found out that the truth was far from my limited perceptions.

Most interesting to me was that John Wilkes Booth (for clarity, I will refer to him as “JWB”) not only came from the foremost American theatrical family of its time, but that his father and brother had just as much legend and lore associated with them as did JWB. In fact, before the assassination, it was widely thought that JWB was the most “normal” member of the Booth family. Alcoholism and depression, which were rampant in nineteenth-century life, were defining characteristics of the Booth family, and JWB seemed to have these traits in the mildest forms.

Having done the bulk of my research 2001 before the events of September 11th, the idea of Booth’s deed being an act of terrorism had not occurred to me. Yet now, faced with the awful reality of that dreadful day (and like many New Yorkers, I witnessed the Twin Towers falling before my eyes), it strikes me how similar it must have been on that night almost 140 years ago when the President, Secretary of State and Vice-President were targeted for attack, as pandemonium ensued and terror gripped the nation. I and many others remember hearing on the streets of New York City on September 11 wild rumors of how not only the Pentagon, but the Capitol, State Department and White House had all been bombed. Had Booth’s plan been fully realized, the leaderless government would perhaps have been forced to recognize the Confederate States (whose armies were still in the field); the Civil War would have been fought in vain.

To this day no more American lives have been lost in any single conflict than were lost in the Civil War, our bloodiest and most tragic war. The numbers of casualties were staggering (in the hundredes of thousands) and now having shared the national tragedy and losses of 9/11, we as a people are more closely connected to the events of 1865, when an American terrorist let loose his rage and frustration on the one man to whom “our country owed all her troubles.”



All content and images, unless otherwise noted, © 2003 Christopher Fabbro & Xmith Design