Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln’s Posthumous Fame

How important, then, is John Wilkes Booth?

He is the single most underestimated person of the Civil War. No one admires him; no one wishes to be like him; but we have to admit his importance. In April 1865, there was one person who had a genuine possibility of reconciling the North and the South: only Lincoln could fulfill that role (and even he would have had a hard time doing it). By striking Lincoln down at the prime of his intellectual and social power, Booth made reconciliation much more difficult, and it would take much longer to achieve.


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