April 1865: John Wilkes Booth’s Diary (Lost Pages, From Prison)
(c) 2012 Mick Circeo
25th April, 1865
From Prison (Washington DC)
I’ve had dreams of killing my father. Of cutting his head off and stuffing it in a box or some other container and throwing it over a high cliff. Or burying it deep in the ground. Fantasies, that is all they are. Harmless thoughts. Of course I would not deign to act upon these ruminations.
Not that I wouldn’t kill a man if I had to. For the rights reasons, of course. It would have to be for the right reasons. So what is it, that would or should or could be considered Just Cause to kill a man? What if he threatened the welfare of a Nation, the Common Weal, as it were. What if his actions were so bold and so lecherous as to change the future course of a great Country for the worse? Endanger its citizenry. Destroy the marketplace and our ability to function at the top of the bill on the world’s stage. What if one man — or a small handful of men – put a Country at such risk?
Are we to stand idly by and watch the destruction of a Land that we, that I, have grown to love more than any living person? I should think not. For I should be adjudged by History to be worse a man than such men, if they properly be called men, were I to bear witness to these acts of waste now occurring, and yet do nothing. And that is why I killed the Tyrant, Mr. Lincoln.
Had Grant been in the box with the Tyrant, pursuant to the original plan, I should have done him in as well. I will admit that it required a full hour’s worth of whiskey to put me up to the task. Of that I am not ashamed in the least.
I know that I am but youthful, but then I look at Custer and what he has also achieved in his youth. As a practical matter, we are both the same in age. People often say we look like we could be brothers, were I not already to have a brother who could readily be called my twin. That’s not an accident for Custer, so I am told. It is by design. They say that he has always wanted to look like me, with the mustache and the hair, believing that it will bring him good fortune with the fairer sex. Perhaps that is true, as I have seen him in the company of many a young maiden. Without these newfound accoutrements of coiffeur and sartorial splendor, however, he is quite a plain fellow indeed.
History will acquit me, even if the courts do not, for I acted bravely, struck boldly, and retreated south to gather my troops. My army. Those of my Southern supporters who are with me in this fight and the continued Rebellion. This fight to preserve that which has made our Country great. The preservation of the Races. That which has allowed and enabled us to achieve the reaches and riches that no Nation has been able to attain in such a brief lifespan.
Truly I have been ordained by God to lead the Children of the Revolution back, from the precipice of defeat by the thinly veiled Freedom imposed by one Abraham Lincoln. May he never rest in peace. Figurative imprisonment by literal emancipation, hence bringing low both Races — this is what the Tyrant has foisted upon our beloved Homeland.
And I shall not let that be done, nor could I have done so by inaction. What happens when such a Tyrant stands up in society and proclaims himself a god over the Races? He is struck down with permanency. Sic semper tyrannis – yes I did say that – there have been reports that I did not, but I inscribe it here and now, so that all doubt shall be remov’d; “Thus always to tyrants.” I shouted it that night at a quarter past 10, almost laughed it, the very moment before I placed the barrel of my shooter behind the ear of the Tyrant and struck a blow for every thinking man in the Nonce.
I did not hesitate. Would that my colleagues had possessed the courage and the determination and the bravado to have carried through with the selfsame success I enjoyed that blessed night. Alas they did not, and have paid the high price for their failures. But as I sit here in my jail cell, behind these cold stone walls and iron bars, awaiting the news of the men who decide my fate, I say now that I do not regret a single moment of it. When tyrants act treasonously, they fall. And Lincoln fell. I remain proud to say that it was by my hand.
If the jury convict me, future President Davis has promised to pardon me and restore me to my true and apt place in government. No more will I be a player on a stage illuminated by footlights, but I shall be acting in real life, impacting real people. I shall be exonerated, no longer subject to endure the shouts and taunts of “Kill the murderer!” And then the South will rise again, as Davis has promised. When I accept my appointment as Secretary of War in the Davis Administration, I shall exact my revenge upon Grant in further fulfillment my foreordained destiny. That will be mine and mine alone.
I should think that it is a relief for our Nation, and not a burden, to have a true leader occupy the White House. One pure of Mind and Spirit. Not a warmonger or a political animal. There is no Left. There is no Right. There is only a North and a South.