Everybody who has heard his name today knows him as the man who shot and killed President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, but before that, Booth was a theater actor known for his passionate and dramatic appearances on stage. The ninth of ten children, he came from a prominent family of actors, his father Junius Brutus Booth Sr. being known for his Shakespearean roles and his mother Mary Ann Holmes being a mistress before marrying Junius when their son was thirteen years old. John became a great athlete, particularly fond of fencing, and was an excellent horseback rider, and with his handsome features, he was said to be popular with women.
But Booth was a Confederate sympathizer, whose love of the South where he was born became his downfall. He gathered a group of like-minded individuals in 1664 and planned to kidnap President Lincoln, but eventually his intentions grew more manacing and on 14 April 1865, while the President was viewing a production of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre with his wife, Booth snuck into the President’s box and shot him in the back of the head. Booth scrambled away, sustaining a broken leg in his escape, while Lincoln died the next morning.
On 26 April, after the greatest manhunt in American history, Booth and his traveling companion, David Herold, were cornered by Union soldiers in the tobacco barn of Garrett Farm, where Booth refused to surrender and was shot in the neck and died from his injuries the following morning. He was twenty-six years old.