Fact of the Day
Our American Cousin was being performed in Washington D.C.'s Ford's Theatre on April 14th, 1865 (Good Friday). When Booth and his cohorts learned of the president's attendance they plotted 3 murders: Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, and William Seward. Johnson's assassin chickened out and Seward was injured by his.
As an actor Booth knew the play well and was accustomed to audience reaction. He specifically waited for the biggest laugh in the play in order to drown out the gunshot. Asa Trenchard spoke the line, "You sock-dologizing old mantrap!", audience erupted in laughter and he fired the shot. Booth, in his desperate flea broke his leg on a rope back stage. Before he left he ran past the audience and yelled "Sic semper tyrannis!" [source]
With this meaning thus always to Tyrants, Booth was naturally confused as to why he was pegged as such a bad man [source]. In his eyes he saved his country from tyrannical rule just after the conclusion of the Civil War. In his diary, Booth penned:
"After being hunted like a dog through swamps, woods, and last night being chased by gunboats 'til I was forced to return wet, cold, and starving... I am here in despair. And why? For doing what Brutus was honored for -- what made Tell a hero. And yet I, for striking down the greater tyrant than they ever knew, am looked upon as a common cut-throat... I struck for my country and that alone."
-Diary of J. W. Booth, 04/21/1865
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