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Shades of Gray

"Our country owed all her troubles to Lincoln, and God simply made me the instrument of his punishment," explained John Wilkes Booth after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Booth was a successful actor, deemed "the youngest tragedian in the world" for the roles he played, including Hamlet. He was called "the handsomest man in America," and he had a charisma that attracted women.

He also firmly believed America was a white man's world. In a letter to his brother, Booth wrote: "This country was formed for the white not for the black man. And looking upon African slavery from the same standpoint, as held by those noble framers of our Constitution, I for one, have ever considered it, one of the greatest (both for themselves and us) that God ever bestowed upon a favored nation."

After hearing Lincoln speak about the possibility of giving blacks voting rights, Booth learned incidentally that the President would be attending a play on the night of April 14, 1865. And seeing himself as God's "instrument," Booth shot the President at the theatre. Twelve days later troops surrounded and set fire to a barn where Booth was allegedly hiding. It is believed he died in the ensuing gun fire, although his body was never positively identified.

"This country was formed for the white, not for the black man."
John Wilkes Booth

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