looking back at a grade school report on abraham lincoln, i adopted carl sandburg's story that on the day of abe's birth, his cousin dennis hanks stated, "he'll never amount to much." as if it were an actual occurence. and naïvely delighted in the manufactured irony, as intended.
historical facts, heh. (i blame encyclopedia americana and/or world book encyclopedia, apparently the wikipedia of their time.)
and how about this,
"while attending the milton boarding school, booth met a gypsy fortune-teller who read his palm and pronounced a grim destiny, telling booth that he would have a grand but short life, doomed to die young and "meeting a bad end". his sister recalled that booth wrote down the palm-reader's prediction and showed it to his family and others, often discussing its portents in moments of melancholy in later years."
which asia booth very well may have fabricated to help sell copies...
but his father's name was junius brutus!
and of edwin booth, "some theatrical historians consider him the greatest american actor, and the greatest hamlet, of the 19th century." i was glad to read that he was feuding with his brother before the assassination.
and how about this:
in an interesting coincidence, edwin booth saved abraham lincoln's son, robert, from serious injury or even death. the incident occurred on a train platform in jersey city, new jersey. the exact date of the incident is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place in late 1864 or early 1865, shortly before edwin's brother, john wilkes booth, assassinated president lincoln.
robert lincoln recalled the incident in a 1909 letter to richard watson gilder, editor of the century magazine.
the incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car. the platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. there was some crowding, and i happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. in this situation the train began to move, and by the motion i was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and i was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. upon turning to thank my rescuer i saw it was edwin booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and i expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.
booth did not know the identity of the man whose life he had saved until some months later, when he received a letter from a friend, colonel adam badeau, who was an officer on the staff of general ulysses s. grant. badeau had heard the story from robert lincoln, who had since joined the union army and was also serving on grant's staff. in the letter, badeau gave his compliments to booth for the heroic deed. the fact that he had saved the life of abraham lincoln's son was said to have been of some comfort to edwin booth following his brother's assassination of the president.
before his brother assassinated lincoln, edwin had appeared with his two brothers john wilkes and junius brutus booth, jr., in julius caesar in 1864. john wilkes played marc antony, edwin played brutus, and junius played cassius. it was a benefit performance, and the only time that the three brothers would appear together on the same stage. the funds were used to erect a statue of william shakespeare that still stands in central park just south of the promenade. the statue was the work of john quincy adams ward, named after the president who became a leading opponent of slavery and argued that if a civil war ever broke out the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers, a correct prediction of lincoln's use of the emancipation proclamation in 1863.
immediately afterwards, edwin booth began a production of hamlet on the same stage, which came to be known as the "hundred nights hamlet", setting a record that lasted until john barrymore broke the record in 1922, playing the title character for 101 performances.
so, any time traveler who ventures to save lincoln would have the opportunity to take in a performance of the 19th century's best hamlet beforehand.
and speaking of apocrypha & barrymore, one source alleges his dying words to have been "die? i should say not, dear fellow. no barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him."
this might be attributed to the fact that he had lion blood and don juan dna.
and a recent development:
a theory has persisted that the man killed at the garrett farm was not booth and that booth escaped and lived under an assumed name for many years after. in december 2010, descendants of edwin booth obtained permission to exhume the shakespearean actor's body to obtain dna samples. the family hopes to obtain dna samples from artifacts belonging to john wilkes such as vertebrae stored at the national museum of health and medicine in maryland.
looking forward to the results.