Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 | Author:

I’ve mentioned this podcast from Nate DiMeo at the memory palace before.  I find it pretty poignant.  It’s about the Booth brothers, especially John Wilkes’ older brother Edwin.  Listen for a shout-out to Our Man Whitman [OMW]:

Edwin Booth BOOST

Here Edwin is looking pensive (or moping about his footwear):

Edwin Booth, thespian

Edwin Booth, thespian

And here is a famous photo we saw at Ford’s, with John Wilkes lurking around at Lincoln’s second inaugural (Lincoln center, JWB top row).  Read more at this blog post on The Blind Flaneur.

JWB stalking MLL

JWB stalking MLL

This nauseating bit about JWB is something I learned this summer at Harper’s Ferry.  Here, from Wikipedia:

Strongly opposed to the abolitionists who sought to end slavery in the U.S., Booth attended the hanging on December 2, 1859, of abolitionist leader John Brown, who was executed for leading a raid on the Federal armory at Harpers Ferry (in present-day West Virginia).[60] Booth had been rehearsing at the Richmond Theatre when he abruptly decided to join the Richmond Grays, a volunteer militia of 1,500 men travelling to Charles Town for Brown’s hanging, to guard against any attempt by abolitionists to rescue Brown from the gallows by force.[60][61] When Brown was hanged without incident, Booth stood in uniform near the scaffold and afterwards expressed great satisfaction with Brown’s fate, although he admired the condemned man’s bravery in facing death stoically.[40][62]

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  1. Avatar of s-words s-words says:

    God, that podcast killed me.

    As for John Wilkes Booth leaping into the Richmond Grays for Brown’s hanging: I can’t help but react most strongly, in this story and the many like it, to the sheer accessibility that still characterized American armed forces during and before the war. Men (and sometimes women, actually, dressed in disguise) would often simply write down their names (or pseudonyms) and take up arms, crossing the divide between civilian and combatant in a few moments. This reminds us of how thin that divide must have been then, and how the horrifying experience of battle served as the only true distinguishing factor between troops and the populace for which they were fighting.

    Booth’s knee-jerk semi-enlistment resonates quite stunningly with the decision made by Arthur Fuller (Margaret Fuller’s brother) to leave his position as a Union regimental chaplain and join the infantry two days before the Battle of Fredericksburg. He was killed on Caroline Street as his unit moved across the Rappahannock and into town. (I know I’ve told you several times, but here it is in writing.) The war so permeated the country’s human landscape and exceeded the dimensions of any “normal” (that is, peacetime) American army, a person could decide to enlist and then immediately find him/herself in the maw of history. Don’t mean to be too dramatic, but–damn.

  2. Avatar of admin admin says:

    You know Mara, not only is this an amazing post, between the images, audio, and quoting of Wikipedia (STFD!), but this is your 40th post. FORTY freaking posts, and most of them written just over the last two months (and I know you have about 20 more on the FSEM Ethics blog), you are my blog hero, and I don’t give out that title lightly. Think about all the writing and reflection you are doing here, how much of your idea are now crystallized as you work through this stuff, I find it inspiring and I just want to applaud how insanely good you have been this semester.

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  1. Looking for Whitman,or “Shut the Front Door!” at bavatuesdays

    […] Scanlon has turned into an  a-list blogger in my mind, just take a look at her recent posts on John Wilkes Booth and Whitman as an American Idol in popular culture—this is downright awesome […]

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