The Darkest Dawn: Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy

Goodrich, Thomas. The Darkest Dawn: Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.
Source Type
Secondary
Year
2005
Publication Type
Book
Citation:
Thomas Goodrich, The Darkest Dawn: Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 60-61.
Body Summary:
Although [John] Wilkes [Booth] was an outspoken advocate of Southern rights, other siblings in the Booth family were either neutral or, as was the case with older brother Edwin, strongly pro-Union.

In 1859, when the startling news from Harpers Ferry arrived, John Booth was performing in Richmond. Begging officers to take him along, the actor joined a Virginia militia unit as it rushed north to quell the attempted slave revolt led by the abolitionist John Brown. Although diametrically opposed to Brown’s beliefs, Booth nevertheless came to understand and respect the grit and determination of the white-bearded Kansan. After his capture and trial, Booth was also present at Brown’s execution. More than his life, it was John Brown’s death that stirred the actor’s greatest admiration. The image of the “rugged old hero” standing alone on the scaffold unflinchingly, moments from eternity, without a friend or rescuer in sight, was one that Booth never forgot…One of the lessons Booth learned from Brown was that even in utter defeat, millions of souls might still be stirred; that one bold man with a will of iron and a heart of steel could make a difference and change the course of history. “John Brown was a man inspired, the grandest character of this century!,” praised Booth.
Citation:
Thomas Goodrich, The Darkest Dawn: Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005), 54-55.
Body Summary:
William Henry Seward was one of the most powerful men in the federal government, second only to [President Abraham] Lincoln and perhaps [Secretary of War] Edwin Stanton. His three-story town home across from the White House on Lafayette Park was symbolic of his important station. Seward reportedly once boasted that if he rang a bell on his right hand, a man from Illinois would be arrested; a ring on his left, and a man in New York would be dead. Whether he said such words or not didn’t matter; people believed he said them, and, more important, many people believed he had used such dread power.

And yet, the small, slight, secretary of state could be at once both courteous and gracious. He was even wont to bow politely to everyone he met, including strangers. Seward was also in the habit of hiding his true emotions. One need not look to the secretary’s face for a display of happiness or joy, of sorrow or sadness, or…of shock or anger.
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