© 2012 Mick Circeo

25th April, 1865

From Washington Arsenal Penitentiary (Buzzard Point, Washington DC)

I’ve had dreams of killing my father. Of cutting his head off and stuffing it in a box or some other container and throwing it over a high cliff. Or burying it deep in the ground. Fantasies, that is all they are. Harmless thoughts. Of course I would not deign to act upon these ruminations. Sic semper tyrannis – yes I did say that – there have been reports that I did not, but I inscribe it here and now, so that all doubt shall be remov’d; “Thus always to tyrants.” I shouted it that night at a quarter past ten, almost laughed it, the very moment before I placed the barrel of my shooter behind the ear of the Tyrant and struck a blow for every thinking man in the Nonce.

Not that I wouldn’t kill a man if I had to. For the rights reasons, of course. It would have to be for the right reasons. So what is it, that would or should or could be considered Just Cause to kill a man? What if he threatened the welfare of a Nation, the Common Weal, as it were. What if his actions were so bold and so lecherous as to change the future course of a great Country for the worse? Endanger its citizenry. Destroy the marketplace and our ability to function at the top of the bill on the world’s stage. What if one man – or a small handful of men – put a Country at such risk?

Are we to stand idly by and watch the destruction of a Land that we, that I, have grown to love more than any living person? I should think not. For I should be adjudged by History to be worse a man than such men, if they properly be called men, were I to bear witness to these acts of waste now occurring, and yet do nothing. And that is why I killed the Tyrant, Mr. Lincoln.

Had Grant been in the box with the Tyrant, pursuant to the original plan, I should have done him in as well. I will admit that it required a full hour’s worth of whiskey to put me up to the task. Of that I am not ashamed in the least.

I know that I am but youthful, but then I look at George Armstrong Custer and what he has also achieved at his youthful age. As a practical matter, we are both the same in age. People often say we look like we could be brothers, were I not already to have a brother who could readily be called my twin. That is not an accident for Custer, so I am told, but by design. They say that he has always wanted to look like me, with the mustache and the hair, believing that it will bring him good fortune with the fairer sex. Perhaps that is true, as I have seen him in the company of many a young maiden. Without these newfound accoutrements of coiffeur and sartorial splendor, however, he is quite a plain fellow indeed.

History will acquit me, even if the courts do not, for I acted bravely, struck boldly, and retreated south to gather my troops. My army. Those of my Southern supporters who are with me in this fight and the continued Rebellion. This fight to preserve that which has made our Country great. The preservation of the Races. That which has allowed and enabled us to achieve the reaches and riches that no Nation has been able to attain in such a brief lifespan.

Truly I have been ordained by God to lead the Children of the Revolution back, from the precipice of defeat by the thinly veiled Freedom imposed by one Abraham Lincoln. May he never rest in peace. Figurative imprisonment by literal emancipation, hence bringing low both Races — this is what the Tyrant foisted upon our beloved Homeland.

And I shall not let that be done, nor could I have done so by inaction. What happens when such a Tyrant stands up in society and proclaims himself a god over the Races? He is struck down, and with permanency.

I did not hesitate. Would that my colleagues had possessed the courage and the determination and the bravado to have carried through with the selfsame success I enjoyed that blessed night. Alas they did not possess any of these virtues, and they are sure to pay the high price for their failures. But as I sit here in my jail cell, behind these cold stone walls and iron bars, awaiting the news of the men who would decide my fate, I say now that I do not regret a single moment of it. When tyrants act treasonously, they fall. And Lincoln fell. I remain proud to say that it was by my courageous hand.

If the jury convict me, future President Davis has promised to pardon me and restore me to my true and apt place in government. No longer will I be a player on a stage illuminated by footlights. I shall be acting in real life, impacting real people. I shall be exonerated, no longer subject to endure the shouts and taunts of “Kill the murderer!” And then the South will rise again, as Davis has promised. When I accept my appointment as Secretary of War in the Jefferson Davis Administration, I shall exact my revenge upon Grant in further fulfillment my foreordained destiny. That will be mine and mine alone.

I should think that it is a relief for our Nation, and not a burden, to have a true leader occupy the White House. One pure of Mind and Spirit. Not a warmonger or a wrongdoer or a political animal. There is no Left. There is no Right. There is only a North and a South.

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72 thoughts on “April 1865: John Wilkes Booth’s Diary (Lost Pages, From Prison)

  1. MJ Conner

    Thank you for posting this. This is the type of history I am interested in. The kind that helps answer (or bring up more) questions about our country’s past. What people were thinking – the context and revelations they claim to have encountered before or after such atrocities or successes. In the mind of someone like Booth – what an interesting journey it would be.

    Reply
  2. Chef Mike

    I did my honors thesis in history on the Booth family. They were one of the most talented and renowned acting families in American history, but were overshadowed by the actions of John. The father Junius was a bit of a nut-job but he showed strokes of both brilliance and madness in his long career, a trait that he clearly passed to his son John. John’s brother Edwin founder the Player’s club in NYC and is recognized as one of the greatest stage actors in American history, while their sister Asia was a brilliant writer. Doing my research it was amazing to watch John’s transformation over time from a tender, caring young boy who wouldn’t harm a fly, into the political tool that he became. I really enjoyed spending time in the world of the family Booth, and was glad to see this pop up on the Freshly Pressed page.

    Reply
    1. mickcirceo Post author

      Yes, the Booth family was a standout in our history. JW Booth was the equivalent of today’s “sexiest man alive”, and he was quite well-off for a man scarcely more than 25 years old —

      Reply
  3. Mike Banerd

    Reblogged this on Beta Nerd and commented:
    I’m on a bit of a John Wilkes Booth fix lately, and this post from the Time Traveling Mapmaker definitely fed the craving. If you’re looking to kick off your own JWB obsession I would start with the Lincoln assassination episode of Decoded on the History channel. That’s what got me going easier this week.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: April 1865: John Wilkes Booth’s Diary (Lost Pages, From Prison) « Time Traveling Mapmaker « The Grunge Factor

      1. libertyroseblog

        Thank you & it’s my pleasure. I love history and when I came across this it fascinated me. I think it’s interesting to get a glimpse of what Booth was thinking and why he did it exactly.

    1. mickcirceo Post author

      Amazing to think that Tom Taylor’s words were the last ones heard by Mr. Lincoln — I wonder if he was sleeping or laughing or not paying attention just before he was shot —

      Reply
  5. Dennis Morgan

    Booth knew Lincoln’s plan was to take the black people out of slavery, but then inslave everyone through their Birth Certificate, by ‘registering’ them and giving them a slave number which would be called an Nation Insurance number, making everyone a state asset, owned and taxed by the Government.

    Reply
  6. Adib

    This post deserves further research for its total authenticity. If it is completely authentic, I would hope that the entire diary gets published, and analyzed within the proper context.

    Reply
  7. Catana

    Interesting that the self-deluded rantings of a fanatic in 1865 sound exactly like the self-deluded rantings of 20th and 21st century fanatics.

    Reply
    1. Catana

      Um, Mick. That’s spam that somehow slipped by the filter. It’s a typical non-specific comment with no purpose except to get the links seen. You should delete it.

      Reply
  8. littlecitybot

    wow awesome! man reading the diaries of famous people is so freakin weird. like for authors, for example, i always imagine the way they would write if they were writing for themselves as opposed to for print. it always ends up being super different than what i expected. this was super cool, even though i’ve never really imagined what john wilkes booth would write like hahah.

    Reply
  9. lizandsteve

    I am so glad your page was Freshly Pressed! How interesting. At first I thought I would want to hear your comments about the entry but I am grateful that you have started a dialog with your readers instead. It gave me more time to create my own thoughts and feelings on his words. It’s such a shame this is the first time I am reading this. I would have loved to interpret both points of views in school.
    I am officially following you! I can’t wait to read more!

    Reply
  10. thefirstdatememoirs

    I’m confused by this posting. John Wilkes Booth was never arrested for the murder of Abraham Lincoln, so he never could have been in prison. He was on the run and shot and killed in a tobacco barn. The facts and dates on this are wrong.

    Reply
    1. mickcirceo Post author

      Actual members of the Booth family reported that John Wilkes did escape. The “official” story, reported by the US Government, is that John Wilkes Booth was shot and killed by Sgt. Boston Corbett. I’m not sure I buy that story. Some historians theorize that he escaped from that Port Royal barn, and that the escape was too embarrassing to admit. Some think the truth about his trial and acquittal are being suppressed, right now. Boston Corbett (who, interestingly, performed his own castration with a pair of dull scissors) later disappeared, and was presumed to have been killed in the Great Hinckley Fire. His body was never found. As for John Wilkes Booth, some say he died an elderly man in Texas or Oklahoma.

      Reply
  11. lizandsteve

    So, because a few people are doubting that this letter could actually be legitimate, I guess the next question is where did you get this letter and information from? I see the reference to Mike Cireco, but I don’t know who that is.

    Reply
    1. mickcirceo Post author

      Hey there! Actually, I am Mick, but I get “Mike” quite a lot. I also get “Mitch”, “Mark”, “Mack”, and various others. I have three cousins named “Mike”, so it gets confusing. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Sophie Nussle

    Powerful passage, thank you – and timely, as some of these issues still seem to affect your country. I look forward to reading more.

    Reply
  13. Pingback: Abraham Lincoln’s Execution .: Knowledge Base « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL « CITIZEN.BLOGGER.1984+ GUNNY.G BLOG.EMAIL

  14. Wm. Christopher

    I can see how it could be, that he did die in Texas, Mayby Grandbbury? OR Okla. I live in Okla, and have heard that part of it many times.
    That said
    UNLESS, he left the barn BEFORE the troops arrived, I cant see how he could have escaped. Upon arrivel they would have thrown a cordon around the outbuildings. Unless they did so with the house first, THEN the barn, I cant see how he could have escaped. He was weak, and likely getting weaker. If he escaped, I cant see why they wouldnt have kept dogging him until his strength wound out, and he was found somewhere, either on the trail or at someone elses house. Surely, IF he had escaped, the ocvcupants of the farm would have told the troops of his condition, and they would have known that it was just a matter of time, and keeping on the search.
    A weak and suffering person, just dosent escape a troop of cavelry when they know about where to look, and are determined to find him. This wrote on the day they found the last guy doing the Boston Marathon bombing.

    Reply
    1. mickcirceo Post author

      Hi William: Imagine that Wilkes did _not_ escape, but was captured alive, tried in secret, and acquitted. Imagine further that his traveling companion (David Edgar Herold) was the one who was killed that day at the Port Royal Barn.

      They could have gotten anyone to identify Herold as Booth — anyone —

      Reply

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