Wednesday, January 28, 2009

That crazy Booth family

From the archives listserv:

Letter threatening Jackson's life determined to be written by father of man who killed Lincoln

Dismissed for 175 years as a fake, a letter threatening the assassination of President Andrew Jackson has been found to be authentic. And, says the director of the Andrew Jackson Papers Project at the University of Tennessee, the writer was none other than Junius Brutus Booth, father of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.


The letter, which addressed Old Hickory as "You damn'd old Scoundrel," demanded that Jackson pardon two prisoners named De Ruiz and De Soto who had been sentenced to death for piracy in a high-profile trial of the day.


Pardon the pirates, the letter writer demanded, or "I will cut your throat whilst you are sleeping."

Upon further research, which apparently hadn't been done before, it turns out that the envelope had the return address of the hotel where Booth normally stayed and that Booth had written to his theater director to apologize for writing letters to "authorities of the country." And the handwriting also matches. I'm not surprised that Jackson scholars never took it seriously, but surely someone has done enough research on Junius Brutus Booth to have made these connections? Maybe not.

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