Thursday, December 20, 2007
According to today's Denver Post, The History Channel is presenting a two-hour documentary about the hunt for John Wilkes Booth. The film is based on Michael W. Kauffman's 2004 biography of Booth, titled "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth And The Lincoln Conspiracies."
The general public may not know that originally Booth and his fellow conspirators intended on simply kidnapping Lincoln in order to obtain leverage for the Confederacy. It was only after Booth listened to Lincoln give his last public speech in which he advocated citizenship for former slaves that Booth changed the plot to include murdering Lincoln, Secretary of State Seward, and Vice President Johnson. Seward narrowly escaped death at the hands of Lewis Payne (or Powell) in a savage stabbing, and the attack on Johnson was never carried out.
Kauffman's book is an excellent resource into the mind of John Wilkes Booth and what possessed him to commit perhaps the most cowardly act in American history. Instead of avenging the South as he hoped, Booth, by murdering Lincoln, actually ended up giving free rein to the Radical Republicans in Congress to have a far harsher period of Reconstruction than Lincoln would have permitted.
Another major source for reading about the hunt and eventual killing of John Wilkes Booth is "Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase For Lincoln's Killer" by James Swanson. It reads more like a thrilling novel as opposed to a sterile history book.
The History Channel's presentation of "The Hunt For John Wilkes Booth" premieres on Sunday December 23, 2007 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
Posted by Geoff Elliott at 12:16 PM