tv American History TV CSPAN March 21, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
eres to just trust -- distrust the media. i had to ask, who exactly comprised "the nation" at the end of the civil war? after four and of course, not even north and south as sections were of one mind. supporters encompassed black northerners and black southerners and the majority of white northerners. lincoln's antagonist encompassed the vast majority of white southerners and white northerners. it was this multifocal din of voices that interest me. in dozens of archives, i read hundreds of personal accounts from the spring and summer of 1865. i read union and confederate lack and white, soldier and civilian.
i read men and women, children too. rich and poor, the known and the unknown. because of this emergent and diaries, letters, and other writings, i found a lot that surprised me. it's made clear to me that no matter how majestic and resplendent or the public ceremonies honoring lincoln this end of the war moment was not a time of unity and closure. in the cacophony that ensued people that is agreed about the meaning of the war talked past and over one another. the immediate aftermath of lincoln's assassination, those hours, days and weeks, i soon realized where a key moment of intense strife that had been left out of the story. and a moment that resonates into the present day. with union victory and confederate defeat that first
week of april, 1865, everything was at stake. black freedom had been teased and deliver, but would it last? peace would soon be declared but could it endure? how could confederate the brought back into the citizenry? where and how would former slaves live and work? could bethey become citizens too? two days after lee's surrender lincoln addressed the crowd from a white house balcony. no one knew at the time that this would be his last speech. reflecting on the nation's reconstruction, lincoln stated that he would prefer -- in his word -- that voting right the extended to black men who were, in his words "very intelligent" and who "served our cause as soldiers." this irritated abolitionist.
one of wrote in his diary "why can't he cut off the whole tree rather than love offb off branches?" this suggestion also struck lincoln's antagonist as too revolutionary. that is why one man decided to kill the president. according to his words "now, by god, i'll put him through." when put a shot into his head three nights later, it was good friday. that same day, someone attacked secretary william stewart in bed in washington. stewart lived, while news of lincoln's death spread across the nation and the world. now suddenly new questions became pressing. what would become of the emancipation proclamation?
what would president andrew johnson do? what happened the next day? trepidation for the future, i found, was particularly acute for african-americans. it is true that black leaders criticized lincoln's hesitancy early in the war. but lincoln had been deeply influenced by the eviction of lack and white abolitionist, including the more radical numbers of his party. 16 euros point. the south echoing -- one six-year-old boy in the south asked if he had to be a slave again. i knew in my research the principal responses of mourners would be shock and grief. people were astonished us astounded, stupefied. these are all words they wrote in their diaries. they wrote that his death was like a dagger to the heart and they thunderclap from a clear,
blue sky. today we would say i felt like i was in a movie. it was a joke, a hoax, a lie and for particular slaves, it was a falsehood of a gated by secessionist whites. former slaves said that even the trees were weeping for lincoln . the rules of dominant american culture, expressions of grief had to be properly controlled, especially wforfroor men. but in this moment, all of those rules lost the powers. one person wrote to his right, the minister broke down and the tears rolled down his cheeks. union soldiers were also "weeping like children." lincoln's mourners were also angry, very angry.
another battle came to pass, when a soldier wrote to his mother "the confederate opponents would wish that he had never been born." the men of the famous 54th black massachusetts said "now there is no more peace. let us turn back, load our muskets, and if necessary exterminate the race that can do such things.' for these men and white soldiers the confederates were not merely enemies, they were a distinct race. " exterminate the race that can do such things.' i do find evidence of reprisals in the immediate moment after the assassination. kinds of expressions of wrath contradicted the proclamations of universal grief that everyone everywhere across the whole nation, even the whole world was of one heart and mind. north and south are weaving together, lincoln knew no north or south, only his country.
i found sentiment like that across many writings. but that was not true, not at all. to begin with, the assassination seemed the greatest possible tragedy for the union, the confederacy's surrender seemed immediate and disastrous. many confederate reveled in the assassination, recently contradicting visions of north and south uniting. from north killing a, one woman wrote in her diary, calling the two men "a royal suite of imperial apes," and thanked god "for the gleaming light in darkness." another woman was in the german lesson when someone wrotebroke in to give the news. she flew home, her heart beating with excitement in her own words. she stopped at her aunt josie's
where everyone shouted "what do you think of the news? isn't it splendid?" they were all in a tremor of excitement. these kinds of divergent responses made for by the lashes between black and white southerners. in portsmouth, virginia for example, it was dangerous to venture out at night, one northerner explained. since the return of so many rebel prisoners. the fact was confederates were angry too. one of my richest discoveries in might research was the diary of an ardent secessionist and proslavery lawyer named rodney dorman, preserved at the library of congress here in washington. living in the occupied city of jackson, florida, he was disgusted with lincoln's mourners. as he saw black people in soldiers uniforms, and people
teaching black people to read and white, he could not contagious. . lincoln and white abolitionists were in his words " ignorant wretches, craven hearted knaves, desecrated prostituted, and perverted." when dorman caught the u.s. marshal in jacksonville a dog, he apologized to dogs. there were also white partners that despised mentions. -- white northerners that despised lincoln. they were called copperheads. as a well-to-do woman wrote of her irish immigrant cook "julia was laughing all day. fearing that the employed negro would reduce her wages." to the dismay of their comrades, some laughed and clapped when they heard the news. these actions and the words that
accompanied them are preserved in the national archives in in court martial records. when word arrived in union, michigan one soldier said " i am glad the son of a bitch is dead." meanwhile lincoln's mourners went to church on easter sunday april 16, and the crowds were unprecedented. from california to washington, up through new england black churches and white charges were jammed with worshipers, eager to make sense of what felt incompetent civil. listenin-- what felt incompetent civil. -- what felt incomprehensible. rodney dorman wrote in his jacksonville diary "the whole sanctimonious band of
self-satisfied northern villains and hypocrites should tremble and repent." lincoln's mourners did tremble. many took comfort in their ministers explanation, but i was most interested in those who wrestled with their faith. who wrestled with god in the face of such unprecedented calamity. i cannot reconcile myself, one soldier admitted, stumped as to why the almighty would take away the great lincoln just the moment of union victory. i cannot believe it was for the best, she wrote. lincoln's death was such an incredible atrocity, wrote a quaker woman, that she wondered whether love and mercy still reigned in heaven while such unprovoked wickedness walked here. -- walked the earth. i was also interested into who lincoln's mourners blinged for the assassination. -- blamed for the assassination. to be sure, nearly all wanted
john wilkes booth to suffer for his crime. but most pointed to the confederate leadership as the culprit, and many i was intrigued to find, placed the blame squarely on the institution of slavery. at 7:00 in the morning on april 15 before he can have even pronounced dead, a german in the grid in new york wrote "it is slavery." he capitalized word in addition with an! . exclamation point. lincoln had been sacrificed to slavery, taken by an agent of that accursed system of slavery and state's rights. killed by all the hate wickedness and don't of slavery. at the same time, reading through so many diaries and letters, i realized that in order to understand personal and political responses to lincoln's assassination, i had to grapple with the persistence of everyday
life in the face of catastrophe. this is one of the places where personal responses different the most from public sources like newspapers. the first time this struck me was when i read the diary of a nine-year-old boy from new jersey, who wrote at the school had let out early on the date the president's funeral. he added, in the afternoon, i played ball. mourners indulged in the idea that lincoln's assassination had stopped the world. as a boston minister put it, all rings stood still -- all things stood still when the president was killed. reading through these letters, i realized just the opposite was true. instead of everyday life coming to a halt, everyday life intruded into this cataclysmic event. i was surprised at just how much ink people devoted to daily trivia alongside their reactions to the assassination. take the diary of emily davis and african-american servant and student, alongside recording her
grief and multiple attempt to view the resident body when the train passed through philadelphia, davis recorded visits with female friends, a sore throat, and whether or not her suitor ahdhad come by. that attention to daily life did not diminish her tribute to lincoln. we also know from her diary that hurter two brothers fought in the war. she listened to the emancipation proclamation and listening to a lecture by franklin douglas. this diary and many personal writings made clear that mourners personal lives have a measure of consolation. men did the same thing. here is one of my favorite. a self-conscious rumination on everyday life as a form of consolation. from ohio, and then into frank wrote to his friend henry. henry was getting married and
frank would not be able to attend the wedding. henry and his fiancee had long sent to the date for april 19 1855, which of course turned out to be the depth lincoln's funeral. that is the day frank wrote his letter. " i will shut my eyes to all tokens of mourning and close my aeears in here only joy bells because it is your wedding day." frank tried mightily to stay on the heavy topic, but pleaded that it had been ghastly plunged from the heights of joy following union victory to the depths of sorrow by the horrible murder. now frank confessed that he was glad with the destruction of henry's wedding. " i've not felt like self since the assassination." then he asked frank to tell him all about the wedding and how many mistakes you make in the service.
frank also wanted to know the most details asking henry about his new domestic life, and including how the rooms look and what you can see from their windows. mourners like these immersed themselves in the everyday as a diversion from grief, but also for another purpose. as a means to embrace the way forward after union victory. to face the future proved much more difficult for defeated confederates, much especially or warmer slaveholders. a white mississippi woman wrote that "all oare morning and hearts are crushed, president lincoln were not in her thoughts. she went on to say that she had lost thousands of dollars in human chattel. in the ideal vision of lincoln's
mourners, the world had came to a standstill. time suspended in order to allow proper grieving before turning to the unions glorious future. lincoln's enemies, on the other hand, didn't so much wish to stop time, as they wished to reverse time, taking them back to the antebellum south. all of these sponsors to the assassination -- all of these responses to the assassination all were tied deeply divisions of the nation's future and to clashing and irreconcilable divisions of the nation's future. with union victory, african americans and their white allies looked forward to the quality education land, citizenship voting rights for black men -- all was a guarantee of the federal enforcement. former confederates, for their part, looked forward to the reestablishment of their own
political rights with no federal interference. nor, i discovered, at the nations first presidential assassination subdued the vanquished confederates. on the day of linkage and funeral, -- on the day of lincoln's grand funeral, as young woman contemplated a second war for independence. a southern lawyer likewise assured a friend in a letter " the south will rise again." thus did lincoln's more radical mourners come to believe soon after his death that god had permitted lincoln's demised for a specific political reason. to alert the victors of the intransigence of their defeated enemies. as one minister put it " without the assassination, the anti-slavery forces may not have been bested, may not have realized the need for radical policies like lack suffrage in
the aftermath of union victory." very rapidly too, lincoln's successor, andrew johnson made it apparent his complete dismissal for calls of black equality. then i found african americans just as rapidly reached for lincoln. black petitioners told president johnson at he was replacing a man who had proved himself indeed our friend. reminding johnson of the liberty to us and our wives and our little ones by your noble predecessor. african americans and their white allies now upheld lincoln's vision of the world as a mondel of freedom and equality. they look to the emancipation proclamation and when can last speech. -- at lincoln's last speech. lincoln's more radical mourners
oso looked to speech that had already become famous. the second inaugural address that he delivered six weeks before his assassination. there, lincoln had cleared that the war on the battlefield with last in jane's words,famous words " until every drop paid with the last is paid by the sword." he closed that address an appeal. and richard fox spoke these words is morning. these words were already famous when he was assassinated. malice towards non-and charity for all. lincoln exhorted his listeners to try on, to finish the work we are in, and to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace. many at the time thought they knew what lincoln meant, and many today, historians and not
historians, understand these words in the same way. as the union army approached triumph, it seemed lincoln wanted to conquer and treat their anguished enemies with mercy. after researching "mourning lincoln"," i came to disagree with that reading. i believe african-americans, both north and south interpreted link it imperative of malice towards none and charity for all, to apply not to former confederates, but just the opposite -- to apply to themselves, to former slaves, to african americans in their quest for freedom and equality. that is white lincoln's black mourners described those two phrases on the banner they carried through the nation's capital on the fourth of july 1865. with lincoln's imperative of a just and lasting peace in mind frederick douglas told his the local mourners on july fourth that permanent peace could not be accomplished without justice.
today, we would say "no justice no peace." justice and 86 25 are going beyond freedom to encompass voting rights. douglas believed that slavery would not be abolished until the black man had the ballot. lincoln believed that too . at least, that was the case made by african american victors, turned mourners. when they looked to the spirit of the martyred resident to realize their freedom -- there visions of freedom and equality. that is why frederick douglas concluded his message to the african-american people wasn't unspeakable calamity -- was a unspeakable clarity. because defeated confederates
held political power could still win the war off the battlefield. two years later, when the radical republicans in congress overrode the policies of resident johnson to intimate radical reconstruction lincoln's mourners were not avenging lincoln's death. they wanted to avenge secession and more and the cause of the war. -- and war and the cause of the war, slavery, which they believed to be the root of lincoln assassination. radical reconstruction was accompanied by the birth of the cu clucks clan. -- the ku klux klan. once radical white northerners abandoned equality with the south. as i read through confederate
diaries in the spring of 1865, i unexpected link found sentiments -- i unexpectedly found sentiments. john johnson was leaking through his civil war diary and he came across an entry from april 1865, in which he had made to god that the rumors of lincoln's assassination were true. 40 years later, johnson added a note on that same page. "this was a sincere prayer" he wrote " that included when lincoln's death." it was clear that that shot that john wilkes booth shot in the theater in 1865 was the first shot in the war that came after. the war on black freedom and equality. and so my last point. we cannot know what could have happened had lincoln lived. we do know that the sling president -- slain president's martyrdom allowed people to
invoke his name in the quest for equality. on the anniversary of his assassination, we know also that this quest is not yet resolved. the meaning of the civil war not yet resolved. which is why we turn with such intent interest to the legacies of president abraham lincoln. thank you. [applause] martha hodes: questions thoughts reflections? >> you mentioned there was a fear that the emancipation proclamation namely the 13th amendment, would go away even though it would been passed in january, and was anticipated that it would pass? martha hodes: what i found especially in the sentiments of african-americans at the moment, that moment of crisis at the
assassination. often the documents i have our northern teachers for teaching freed people in the south. and they wrote letters to american missionary association, which had sent them, describing the scene in their classrooms. that is where children and grown-ups alike expressed that fear. that is not the only place. editors of african american newspapers in the north also expressed great trepidation that freedom was endangered. even if legal freedom seemed like it was about to happen, freedom for african-americans met more and just the absence of slavery. that is what people were talking about more than literal reinstatement. -- literal reinstlavement. meant education, voting rights, admit land. that was what the people were afraid of. thank you. >> you have some thoughts about what draws us here, in the same
context as to what draws the crowds to the world trade site in new york as a way to mourn that kind of incident. martha hodes: i do have some idea. part of it comes from the sources i have read while researching "mourning lincoln" about white people collected relics of lincoln postcards framed portraits, his speeches but also people in 1865 -- they made pilgrimages here to washington. this theater was closed after his assassination. but people would come to washington, right there diaries "i walked around the theater." " i saw the alley where john looks booth escaped." then there is i one great woman
who names down for the commemoration of the army in may, she goes to the theater and then goes across the street to peterson house. she writes in her diary that she went to the room where lincoln had died. the bloody pillow was still there, and she explains why she wanted to go there. she said "i needed to see this because it was historical fact." but then she said "because it makes it so vivid." part of the visits to the world trade center the popularity of ford's theater. making such a cut a cosmic event seemed real. even sitting in this theater, looking at that box, i felt something i hadn't felt before. i had been to ford's theater, but not part of an audience before. there was a sense that this happened in this place, right here, even though the theater has been reconstructed, it is
realistic. it is something so impossible to imagine, there is a way in which it makes it true. it goes from unbelievable too believable. thank you. >> i direct a national prison reform organization. i have been surprised at the lack of research going into the 13th amendment where we still have slavery within our prison system. we now have 2.3 billion people in prison. we have 25% of the world's prisoners, and only 5% of the world's population. i thought there might be some connection in regard to us still having slavery in our constitution, just in regards to prisons. i was looking, maybe even today to find some connection.
the amendment actually became effective in 1965, december the 18th. we are looking at the 150 years of the anniversary. maybe there should be a movement to move all of slavery. maybe that is the unfinished work. martha hodes: thank you for that comment. for quite right that prisoners are not able to vote in this country. >> they are slaves. martha hodes: what i would say there are activists on this issue. one of them is a wonderful scholar named -- i can't remember her name. but she is at temple university. she's a scholar of prisons and the history of prisons. she is very active in this movement to allow prisoners to vote. does anyone know her name? >> i'm talking about the exception class, which is a constitutional amendment.
prisoners are considered slaves in our constitution. prisons, not voting. martha hodes: no, i understand you. let's just move on to the next speaker so we can have more time. i appreciate your comment. >> i understand the people who work celebrating -- the confederates were celebrating. the assessment i always believed of course there was lincoln wanted to be very merciful a significant part of his party wanted to be vengeful. after the assassination, a were more determined to be vengeful in reconstruction policy. what confederate diary writings, observations, have you found on people who were horrified by what booth did? they say, we are doomed by the
future this will cause northern richard duchenne, and it will make it difficult in the coming years. -- this will cause northern retribution. martha hodes: the first thing i would say, i disagree with the common reading that lincoln's fascination for the retribution -- lincoln's assassination furthered the retribution. so many sources right at the moment of the assassination people are very clear that it is a secession war and slavery that they are avenging. let me speak to your very interesting west point. what is so fascinating about when lincoln. once he was assassinated, two groups of people said he was her best friend. the first were former and freed slaves. the second despite the fact that confederates were gleeful
they were also very worried. when i started my research, lincoln as the test friend of the -- best friend of the confederates. that day confederates were writing in their diaries "what is going to happen? he was our best friend." he was the great statesman. although they were glad what they called the moment of reprieve from a terrible moment of surrender, and they were glad that union supporters were suffering the cause it was a turnaround, they were also very worried. the other thing is that confederates were very clear that they wanted booth alone to be blamed for the assassination. in other words, union supporters were saying it was the spirit of the confederacy that did this, slavery that did this. all throughout confederate letters and diaries, they say two things. this is what is so fascinating every thing has a contradiction. the first thing they say, who desires euro -- booth is our
hero. but the second thing they say is that he is a lone madman and he doesn't represent the sentiments of the confederacy. there were many confederates looking forward, but there were also many confederates who at the same time as they were intransigent also knew that they needed to move forward. it was a compensated time in the confederacy, as are any defeated population. thgankank you for that. >> i have been live tweeting this talk from for'dsd's theatre. one is " how did your research impact your view on the assassination/" ?" >>martha hodes: i had a stock discretion of the assassination that i gave. i think i did, in a way, imagine a nation in mourning. rubber i said i recalled 9/11 as
a world in recent shock. when i saw all of these manifold responses in my research between north and confederates. it became a much more completed, complex event. when i looked back it might 9/11 photographs, i saw the same thing. the best answer is, might view became more nuanced, complex and hard to understand. and that is the job of historians, to try and make things harder to understand, because like incompetent and confusing. [laughter] >> that will make for a perfect tweet. the other question was -- "were there some top conspiracy theories that came through in the diaries you read?" martha hodes: interesting. of course there were conspiracy theories at the time of assassination. the judge, joseph holt, who is prosecuting the conspirators tried with all his might drop the trial to convict members of the confederacy and confederate
leadership, but was unsuccessful. as of seems the assassination had happened lincoln's mourners wrote in their diaries that they were quite sure that the confederate leadership was involved. often, mourners would write out a long list of names and positions. the obvious ones were jefferson davis and robert e lee. but they would write a long list of cabinet leaders diplomats quite sure that it had been more than booth. it was part of their belief, that whether or not these men were responsible "the spirit of booth" was responsible. >> we have had four presidential assassinations. we hear a lot about this one. is your almost as much about kennedy's, and very little about the other two. this may be off-topic, not your area of expertise, or do you
have any idea -- where they considered catechistic in their time? martha hodes: i will answer that briefly. garfield in 1881 and mckinley in 1901. the first reason scholars tend to give is that lincoln and kennedy died immediately or almost immediately whereas garfield and mckinley did not. what i found so interesting so i will just speak from my own research experience. some of the diaries i worked with i followed through to later moments. if you read the book, there is a abolitionist couple along with diehard rebels. i followed this abolitionist couple through reconstruction to the end of their lives. the woman keeps a diary. when garfield is assassinated in 1881, and i'm not sure i can explain this. she is devastated, utterly devastated. she writes about in the same way she wrote about lincoln
although mine is the politics of slavery and civil war. but she does not even mention ibrahim lincoln. this is somebody you say. i phoned her throat. because she wrote so much about lincoln. -- i followed her throughout the entire story because she wrote so much about lincoln. these other two presidents did not have the legacies that kennedy and lincoln had. they were not understood to be the kind of great statesman that lincoln and kennedy were understood to be. thank you. yes? >> thank you for your presentation. we say 100 years later after lincoln's assassination, we
have kennedy's assassination. they say the cause of that assassination to be freedom justice and peace,. could you it was a little bit of the issues and the way people felt? now, 100 years later jfk is sti ll -- martha hodes: i met a kennedy scholar, but i think lincoln's assassination is a tremendous event in people's lives. what is fascinating for me thinking about kennedy and lincoln and the two assassination is the difference
in the world when the two took place. the difference is civil war versus no civil war, that is enormous. the other is more immediate and personal. when people got word of lincoln's assassination, they left their houses because they needed to look into people's faces. they needed to see confirmation of this event i seeing other people crying weeping, sad. they went outside. kennedy's assassination, i was very young, but i remember this. i spoke to others about it. maybe those in the audience will remember. what people did on the street is the other around appliance stores with tv set in the window. in those days, not every household had a tv, and if you did, he wanted to go outside to confirm that this had happened. you stood around watching television together, so that you could all confirm the event. by the way, 9/11 was pre-facebook and tweeting. but it was about cell phones.
you picked up your cell phone and called them that it was happening. the persistence of everyday life was true for both events. for example, i asked my father "what were you doing at the time of kennedy's assassination?' he was in new york city buying auto parts for his ford. the guy on the counter heard the news on the radio and brought it out so customers could hear. everyone was arrested, but finished their purchases and went on. -- everyone was devastated, but finished their purchases and went on. i do think that kennedy and that assassination are even on this historical events, and continue to get a great deal of attention. thank you. [laughter]
[applause] martha hodes: thank you so much. >> on the night of april 11 1955, a large crowd gathered outside of the portico of the white house. they came to herd the residents speak, and now the war all but won the words northerners most needed to hear. he spoke of lack voting rights, he spoke of reconciliation tolerant moderation towards fallen folks. it was not the best speech he had ever made, far from it. but given the time to make deeds of his words, it may have been one of the more our region -- more far-reaching. tragically, he was not granted that's time. there was one in the audience that would use lincoln's words
is the catalyst for one of the most heinous and destructive act in our nation's history. from childhood, we are taught that to know john wilkes booth is to hate him. he's universally vilified, dismissed as a madman, demonized as the embodiment of consummate evil. and yet very few of us know much about him, other than the fact that he was a handsome and popular member of the nation's leading thespian family until he jumped the track. his own brother described him as a goodhearted harmless, the wild bring the boy. -- thought wild-brained boy. we're left with is a highly readable biography until now. after spending a quarter century in the most paints taking research, dr. terry albert has written "fortune's fool," a book
that will long to find the subject for lehman and scholar alike. dr. albert is also the author of the book "prince among slaves: the true story of an f can prince -- of an african prince." it was shot by pbs, attracting more than 3 million viewers. he has appeared on bbc news, the history channel, and the discovery network. but it is as a teacher where he shines brightest. since 1972, dr. alfred has been a professor of history at the end until canvas of northern virginia committee college. -- annandale campus of northern virginia community college. he received the outstanding faculty award, the highest nomination from the commonwealth of virginia for educators. here are a few online comments
by nearly 300 of his students -- of his former students. " if you don't like this guy, you have to be a more on." [laughter] [coughs] [laughter] "he's the best professor i have ever had. i mean the guy wrote his own book." [laughter] "i hate history. but he made it so interesting who would have guessed history could be fun?" [laughter] "god is history, i am impressed."
" this class is really helpful and i enjoyed it so much. no homework, no papers, streess. the final paper is so easy. i got a low grade in his class." [laughter] "but, i believe you will do a really good job.' [laughter] "the funniest old guy i have ever met." i have such a good time finding these. [laughter] "as you can see, there is over like what, 200 comments on this prof. he is so adorable he makes you want to his cheeks." [laughter] "the best teacher very cute." " do not read any of the is besides this one. this man right here is the closest comparison to god as is humanly possible." [laughter] "alfred was awesome.
i had them fall semester and i failed his class. yes, i feel that. --- i failed it. not because he was bad, but because i didn't come to class. don't expect to fail, i was just stupid. he;'s's cool." [laughter] " alfred manages to be wet your pants on a at 8:00 a.m. in the morning." "it is as if you were watching a movie, but it is just him leaving the tapestry of american history." and finally, my favorite -- " stop reading these reviews and a sign-up his class before all of the seats are taken." please welcome my friend and fellow board member, dr. terry alfred. [applause]
dr. alfred: thank you. it is nice to see such a large audience here. i am reminded of a poet that was very excited to read his first poems. 7:00 friday night at the community center. he was, of course delighted. he showed up at 6:30, known was there yet. 6:45, no one was there. 7:00, no one was there not even the person who invited him. finally at 7:005, one person came in, but they set all the way back in the men's room. our good poet was horrified and thought about leaving, but thought he can't leave one person here. he got up and said, i will just get started. white on to come down front? the men of accent -- the man in
the back said "no thanks, i have to slip out a little early." grades to see such a great crowd here. [laughter] my biography that started when i was teaching a class on great crimes. each week we would take a separate crime, the lindbergh kidnappings, kennedy assassination lincoln assassination. hands down, the lincoln assassination was the favorite of the students. i don't know if it was because we're close to fords but the next thing i knew it had been expanded into in the tire semester. -- an entire semester. i would have them spend the entire semester learning about booth, lincoln, mrs. lincoln. they were report during the semester on what they found out. our final exam would be eight a trial.
we would put lincoln on the stand to explain what he had been up to. it is at the spring semester where we get ready for commencements, so i put my gown on. like judge dredd i would sit in front for the whole thing. i've met my friend james hall, i dedicate fortunes to mr. hall for all the encouragement he gave me over the years. he loved coming to class. he would take us along the escape route, as we would call it. it was always a little amusing. mr. hall couldn't go in the home of dr. mud. that is because he had been very hard on him in his writings. they do not want mr. hall coming in, she was and from the house. i said i'm await booth can go but you can't? he would go in and hang out until we finished the tour.
one of dr. mud's granddaughters was always very gracious. she kept looking out window at the parking lot and finally she drew me aside and said "is that james otis hall out there?" once she uses middle name, i knew it wasn't a good sign. i said "your eyes are better than mine, i don't see anyone out there." but at any rate, god bless everyone of those people. i will say to my grandchildren if i get in trouble, i want grandkids like that. the booth family in america begins in 1821, when a young couple arrives london. -- arrives from london. they settle in an area north of baltimore. everybody knows 95 going up from wilmington philadelphia.
30 miles up that way towards bel air maryland. not in bel air, but in the country, the booth family built a log house and in 1851 built a more substantial home known as tudor hall. this is where wilkes would gorwrorow up. he also grew up in a townhouse in baltimore, but that is gone now. just east of the city's commercial rapport. the father, i am sure someone was know the father. during the andrew jackson area, a great actor of the 20's and 1930's --1920's and 1930's. when he was off, he was very challenging. he would give himself to audiences, walkout on them, or simply sometimes refuse to show
up. i think alcohol was the main thing in his life. there seemed to be organic troubles too. he was very challenging as a parent. as it got further into it, i realized this is a very difficult dad. he could be violent with the kids. he is not a violent person 24/7, he had great periods too. but he could be physically bad. he would punish his kids with silence. everyone here has with somebody who would just shut up and fr eeze you out. that was really intimidating for his kids because he had acotor eyes that could bore a hole in your. . the mother, marian holmes, who was a very good counterweight
she was loving, open, tried to be cheerful. very indulgent as a parent. what actually happened with her come a her, her hands were so full with her root of kids about that as long as they were content, she was content. if it is good enough, leave it alone, right? she got through, never able to change her husband. and how can you change a person like that? you just tidy up after him. john and his siblings work off to regard their father with sit at the end he had these fits. he had brothers. i'm reminded of the story of a pastor who preached a eulogy. he said to the congregants, is there anyone who would like to say anything about the dear departed? someone in the conversation said, his brother was even worse. [laughter]
i don't think john wilkes booth's brothers will be during that. two were actors, one wasn't. he had two older sister. he was particularly close to the oldest sister, her name was rosalie booth. we know more about her than the other siblings. she was a very sympathetic person. i like to call her a saint. default her around like a puppy. -- he followed her around like a puppy. when you are writing a book, you have to do two things. you either have to find new things, new materials, or come up with fresh interpretations of old things. i believe i was able to do both in this book. one of the people who lived in tudor hall longer than the booths was ellen mahoney.
she came there in the 1870's as a bright and died in the 1940's. she spent 60 years in and around the booth house. one of the things that happen to mrs. mahoney, a man wrote a book later called "the mad bo oths of maryland." i don't know if he was up front ms. mahony about what he wanted to do, or if she was to elderly o elderly to read the signs. she was greatly upset when he did publish this book. she didn't care for the title "mad booths of maryland" either. it was fortunate that she met a young woman named ellen coup and got interested in the booths. her and ellen worked together.
they did quite a bit of work on a manuscript called "the house that booth built." then world war ii came along ellen got married, they moved mrs. mahoney got ill. then they passed away, and ellen disappeared. for years it was not known where all of the research they had done, the drafts were. i came on the research sccenene, there is a multipage outline of the book, but no manuscript. i made it a mission to see if i could find the stuff. i did not know if helen was alive, because she would be quite elderly herlsef. she had disappeared from the bel air neighborhood in the 1940's. every time i saw someone with her name or married name, i
elected to call them up and drop a line. one day, there she was. i found her living in virginia. she had great memories of mrs. mahoney. she brought out boxes of work they had done together. the mother lode, literally boxes. she handed them over to me. there with the lost manuscript the lost house any script -- lost house manuscript. it was wonderful. john wilkes booth's childhood i drew from there. one thing was a cruelty to cats. i read this from a source, and thought it was just one sentence, i don't know if i believe this or not. then i found a really in-depth segment from someone who is an absolute associate and comrade of his. and he was abusive to cats. this was when he was 12-13 years
old. oddly enough, and of course everybody in here knows can be a bad sign, i mention john locke the philosopher he made in the 17th century about this. he said what it might tell you about a personality. oddly enough booth was notably kind to other animals. he was kind to dogs, went out of his way to injuring ligthtning bugs. his sister was about to skewer a cadydid and he saved it. he was fond of horses more than people. an incident in his 20's, he saw a teamster pulling a horse who couldn't pull a wagon out of a model. booth jumped, pulled the whip out of his hand, punched him and said "let's see how you
like being hit." that is a competent element in his personality. he did write childhood the articles. -- childhood theatricals. his brothers and him enjoy to doing that. at one point, he was supposed to shoot an arrow off of his son's head. the apple was on the head of a kid named martin. 12 euros john wilkes booth's he was trembling but that went successfully. those childhood theatrics were fun for everyone involved. john's education carried him through, as i interpreted, on a modern frame, early high school. he went to a very good school in