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The Truth About John Wilkes Booth by Luke Malizzo (Age: 16)


John Wilkes Booth was a prominent actor, until he sadly took the initiative to assassinate current President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1885. He quickly fled the scene, and was tracked down into Garrett's barn, where he supposedly was being harbored. The unfolding scene is one that went down in history. The controversy lies in the question: Did John Wilkes Booth die at Garrett's barn? Or did he escape and live for another thirty years?

Everyone agrees that John Wilkes Booth was Lincoln's killer, and history traditionally teaches that he was shot at Garret’s Barn only two weeks later.


We are told that a man ran out of the barn when the host of Union soldiers surrounded it, and claimed that there was another man in the barn. He told them that the other man was not Booth, but the soldiers killed both men, and reported John Wilkes Booth to be dead. Traditional history agrees with this claim. We are taught that John Wilkes Booth was killed by the Union soldiers at Garret’s barn on April 26, 1885.


However, historian Nate Orlowek disagrees with traditional history. He claims that, not only did John Wilkes Booth escape the barn, but lived for another 36 years under a new alias. Nate Orlowek says that John Wilkes Booth ran for his life, and in an attempt to escape his pursued wagon, broke his leg running up a hill. Friends of Booth’s came to help, and took him to his new home, where he began a new life. He changed his name, and said nothing of his past, until, on his deathbed, he confessed to a new friend that he was Lincoln’s killer, and John Wilkes Booth.


There is much evidence supporting both arguments, but I believe that traditional history has it wrong. I believe that Nate Orlowek has done his research correctly, and that John Wilkes Booth escaped Garret’s barn, and fled to live another 36 years. John Wilkes Booth did not die to the Union soldiers, rather of poison. Whether by his own hand, or someone else I cannot be sure. But the mounting evidence proves that Booth was crafty, and lived, fooling the American government.


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