Who was the “Prince of Players”?

Lincoln’s Assassination Read more from
Chapter Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Born on November 13, 1833, in the middle of the Leonid meteor shower which lit up most of the Atlantic Coast—Edwin Booth was clearly destined for great things. His parents had just lost three children to the cholera epidemic of that year, and they earnestly desired that this child would survive and repay his parents’ love. Very likely Edwin Booth felt the pressure to excel, and he followed in his father’s footsteps.

By his mid-twenties, Edwin Booth was the most renowned of all Shakespearean actors in America, and his reputation eventually proceeded to other lands. He took his younger brother, John Wilkes Booth, on an acting tour in California, and the younger sibling showed considerable talent, but also an ungovernable temper. The elder brother, who was all for the Union in the Civil War, lamented his younger brother’s actions so much that he never spoke of him after 1865.


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