Booktalks

Chasing Lincoln's Killer: The Search for John Wilkes Booth Booktalk

  • Grades: 6–8

Chasing Lincoln's Killer video booktalk

In 1865, it took twelve days for the authorities to capture John Wilkes Booth, the man who had shot the President.

It was April, 1865. Washington DC was in the midst of an extended celebration. The Civil War was over! Soldiers could go back to their homes and families. The Union was safe. No more men would die in her defense.

But the news wasn’t good for Southern sympathizers. The Confederate States of America were no more. General Lee had surrendered. The South was in ruins, and all that they’d fought for was gone.

The well-known, charismatic actor, John Wilkes Booth, wandered the streets of Washington in despair, his attention focused on the man he felt was responsible for the Northern victory, President Abraham Lincoln. He’d missed two opportunities to shoot Lincoln, once at his Inauguration, and then a month later, as Lincoln made a speech in front of the Executive Mansion.

Booth’s third chance came on April 14, 1865, Good Friday, when Booth got the news that the President and First Lady would attend the theatre that night to see a performance of “Our American Cousin.” Booth began to make plans immediately. It was to be a triple assassination: President Lincoln, Vice-President Johnson, and Secretary of State Seward. It would throw Washington into chaos, giving the South a chance to begin the war all over again, with a better chance of winning.

But things didn’t go quite as Booth had planned.

And what happened after that night, during the following twelve days, was a thrilling, heart-stopping hunt for the assassins across the swamps and rivers, forests and fields of Maryland and Virginia.

Follow that hunt day by day, hour by hour, just as people at the time did. Learn history as you’ve never learnt it before, and find out what really happened, in this gripping detective story.


The booktalk was written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, librarian, consultant, and internationally know booktalking expert.

  • Subjects:
    Civil War Period and Reconstruction, The Presidency, Historic Figures, Social Studies through Literature
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