Conspiracy Theory: The Abraham Lincoln Assassination

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Conspiracy Theory: The Abraham Lincoln Assassination

Post by weasel666 on Tue 25 Feb 2014, 21:18



In 1907, Finis L. Bates wrote Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth, contending that a Booth look-alike was mistakenly killed at the Garrett farm while Booth eluded his pursuers. Booth, said Bates, assumed the pseudonym "John St. Helen" and settled on the Paluxy River near Glen Rose, Texas, and later moved to Granbury, Texas. After falling gravely ill and making a deathbed confession that he was the fugitive assassin, he recovered and fled, eventually committing suicide in 1903 in Enid, Oklahoma, under the alias "David E. George". By 1913, more than 70,000 copies of the book had been sold, and Bates exhibited St. Helen's mummified body in carnival sideshows.
Booth Family gravesite, Green Mount Cemetery, where Booth is buried in an unmarked grave

In response, the Maryland Historical Society published an account in 1913 by then-Baltimore mayor William M. Pegram, who had viewed Booth's remains upon the casket's arrival at the Weaver funeral home in Baltimore on February 18, 1869, for burial at Green Mount Cemetery. Pegram, who had known Booth well as a young man, submitted a sworn statement that the body he had seen in 1869 was Booth's. Others positively identifying this body as Booth at the funeral home included Booth's mother, brother, and sister, along with his dentist and other Baltimore acquaintances. Earlier, The New York Times had published an account by their reporter in 1911 detailing the burial of Booth's body at the cemetery and those who were witnesses. The rumor periodically revived, as in the 1920s, when a corpse advertised as the "Man Who Shot Lincoln" was exhibited on a national tour by a carnival promoter. According to a 1938 article in the Saturday Evening Post, the exhibitor said he obtained St. Helen's corpse from Bates' widow.

The Lincoln Conspiracy, a book published in 1977, contended there was a government plot to conceal Booth's escape, reviving interest in the story and prompting the display of St. Helen's mummified body in Chicago that year.[171] The book sold more than one million copies and was made into a feature film called The Lincoln Conspiracy, which was theatrically released in 1977. A 1998 book, The Curse of Cain: The Untold Story of John Wilkes Booth, contended that Booth had escaped, sought refuge in Japan and eventually returned to the United States. In 1994 two historians, together with several descendants, sought a court order for the exhumation of Booth's body at Green Mount Cemetery, which was, according to their lawyer, "intended to prove or disprove longstanding theories on Booth's escape" by conducting a photo-superimposition analysis. The application was blocked, however, by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan, who cited, among other things, "the unreliability of petitioners' less-than-convincing escape/cover-up theory" as a major factor in his decision. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld the ruling. No gravestone marks the precise location where Booth is buried in the family's gravesite. Author Francis Wilson, 11 years old at the time of Lincoln's assassination, wrote an epitaph of Booth in his 1929 book John Wilkes Booth: "In the terrible deed he committed, he was actuated by no thought of monetary gain, but by a self-sacrificing, albeit wholly fanatical devotion to a cause he thought supreme."

In December 2010, descendants of Edwin Booth reported that they obtained permission to exhume the Shakespearean actor's body to obtain DNA samples. However, Bree Harvey, a spokesperson from the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Edwin Booth is buried, refuted reports that the family had contacted them and requested to exhume Edwin's body. The family hopes to obtain DNA samples from artifacts belonging to John Wilkes, or from remains such as vertebrae stored at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland. On March 30, 2013, museum spokesperson Carol Johnson announced the family's request to exhume DNA from the vertebrae had been rejected.

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