Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tudor Hall and the Booths in Aegis, April 13, 2011

An article entitled "Civil War Divides Harford" by Bryna Zumer appears on the front page of the April 13, 2011, edition of the Aegis (newspaper published in Harford County, Maryland). Dinah Faber, Coordinator of Spirits of Tudor Hall, is quoted speaking about Tudor Hall and the Booth family under the heading "Ambivalent History" on page A6 of the article. To read part one of the article, please use the link below.

The Conspirator Opens in Theatres April 15, 2011

The tragic story of the trial and execution of Mary Surratt is told in The Conspirator, a feature film premiering nation-wide on April 15, 2011. Mary Surratt was implicated in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln for which she and her family paid a heavy price. The film was directed by Robert Redford.  Robin Wright heads the cast which also includes James McEvoy, Evan Rachel Wood, Alexis Bledel, and Kevin Kline. Redford consulted the staff of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland, while making the film.

The fate of Mary Surratt illustrates that although John Wilkes Booth targeted only one man, there were actually many victims of his crime. While those who had supported Lincoln and the Union were plunged into grief, Lincoln's own family never fully recovered from the violent death of the husband and father who had provided a counterweight to his wife's unstable personality. Mary Lincoln was obviously thrown even more off balance by the death of her husband.

The young couple who accompanied the Lincolns to Ford's Theatre, Henry Rathbone and his future wife Clara, seem to have been "cursed" by the assassination, and their relationship ended tragically when Rathbone killed Clara and spent the rest of his life in an asylum as a result. Their children obviously suffered greatly due to the mental instability of their father and the tragic death of their mother at their own father's hands.

While the families of the victims of a crime are often recognized, the families of those who perpetrate those crimes are often overlooked. This does not mean, however, that their lives are not affected and their hearts are not broken. The Conspirator reminds us of that and in many ways is a "horror" film that depicts what can happen to individuals and families affected by criminal acts in one way or another.

Link to The Conspirator website:

John Wilkes Booth's brother, Edwin, anguished over the senseless act committed by his brother, expressed his sorrow in an open letter to the citizens of the United States. It read:

New York, April 20, 1865
To the people of the United States.
My fellow citizens:

When a nation is overwhelmed with sorrow by a great public calamity, the mention of private grief would under ordinary circumstances be an intrusion, but under those by which I am surrounded, I feel sure that a word from me will not be so regarded by you.
It has pleased God to lay at the door of my afflicted family the life-blood of our great, good and martyred President. Prostrated to the very earth by this dreadful event, I am yet but too sensible that other mourners fill the land. To them, to you, one and all go forth our deep, unutterable sympathy; our abhorrence and detestation of this most foul and atrocious of crimes.
For my mother and sister, for my two remaining brothers and my own poor self, there is nothing to be said except that we are thus placed without any agency of our own. For our loyalty as dutiful, though humble, citizens, as well as for our consistent, and as we had some reason to believe, successful, efforts to elevate our name, personally and professionally, we appeal to the record of the past. For our present position we are not responsible. For the future --alas! I shall struggle on, in my retirement, with a heavy heart, an oppressed memory and a wounded name --dreadful burdens -- to my welcome grave.

Your afflicted friend,
Edwin Booth