Abe Lincoln's Brush With Booths
Abraham Lincoln and Edwin Booth.
Two prominent Americans of 19th century.
The former, the iconic President of America, the latter an actor of great merit.
Abraham Lincoln no doubt was a high profile personality known far and wide beyond America even in those days. But Edwin Booth too did not lag far behind in renown.
Though not in the same league as Lincoln, Booth commanded huge fan following among the American public.
His name was enough to set many a female heart a flutter while men adored him for his debonair looks and histrionic talent so much so that even today he is considered by some to be the best American actor ever.
This Booth Saved A Lincoln
While these two greats were constantly in media limelight, it was highly unlikely that they should cross each other's path in the normal course of things because of their different callings,
But a heroic act was to change this
An incident occurred at a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. There was a rush to buy tickets and a young man was thrown off the train and lay helpless when suddenly somebody pulled him up to safety, thereby saving his life.
If the young man felt highly grateful to this saviour he was amazed beyond imagination to find that the man who had saved him was none other than Edwin Booth.
This thrilling experience made such a deep impression upon the man that he told everybody about it and also recalled it in a letter to Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine.in 1909 about 4 decades after the incident.
But to Edwin this probably was just an incident when he was able to do a good deed to a complete stranger by being at the right place at the right time.
Edwin probably may have forgotten about this act of rescue until he received a letter from Colonel Adam Badeau, who was an officer on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant. Commending Booth for his heroic deed at the New Jersey Railway Station, Badeau in his letter said that the man he had saved was Robert Lincoln, the son of President Lincoln.
This Booth Killed A Lincoln
The Fatal Impact
This was the first brush of the First Family of America with an actor named Booth. And if nothing had happened between Lincolns and Booths after that, the incident might have been forgotten by now.
But something was to happen.
Lincoln was destined to have yet another brush with an actor named Booth.
This time it was John Wilkes Booth, the brother of Edwin Booth. But this brush had a tragic consequence. John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln a few months after his brother had saved Lincoln's son.
Did Lincoln Foresee His Own End?
Interestingly enough Lincoln had a nightmare a few days before he was killed by John Wilkes Booth.
About 13 days before his death, Lincoln saw a dream in which he saw mourners around a coffin in the East Room of the White House. As the face of the corpse was covered, Lincoln asked one of the soldiers who stood on guard around the coffin that who had died in the White House and was told that it was the President who had been killed by an assassin.
The experience so agitated Lincoln that he couldn’t go back to sleep after waking up from the dream and continued to be disturbed by it.
When Lincoln told his friend and biographer Ward Hill Lamon and others about his experience, it is conceivable that they must have tried to put Lincoln at ease, saying he shouldn’t put too much store by such meaningless nightmares which occur to almost everybody sometime or the other in their life. But the events were to prove otherwise. Three days later Lincoln was dead at the hand of an assassin.
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