Drawing of John Wilkes Booth on a horse galloping away from a building. A man chases after him. A third man stands by on open door and watches.
Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 13, 1865

Material Evidence: John Wilkes Booth

Tonight I try to escape these bloodhounds once more … I have too great a soul to die like a criminal.

Booth’s diary, written between April 17–22, 1865

At the end of Booth’s escape, Booth and David Herold were sleeping in a tobacco barn at Richard Garrett’s Virginia farmhouse when federal troops surrounded them. Herold surrendered, but Booth refused. After several hours of negotiations, the soldiers set the barn on fire. Union soldier Thomas “Boston” Corbett fired the fatal shot into Booth’s neck, ending his escape and avenging the assassinated Lincoln.

The objects found on Booth’s person showed the amount of planning he had put into his escape. He used these weapons for defense and the map and compass to navigate.

In contrast, Booth’s photos of his girlfriends show his human side. He left behind a successful career as a popular actor to act on his hatred of Lincoln.

Soldiers also found Booth’s diary on his person, giving insight into his motives.

What Booth Carried

John Wilkes Booth’s escape from Washington lasted 12 days. See what he had with him during his journey.

Protect Our History

The night of April 14, 1865, forever changed our national history. Together, Ford's Theatre Society and the National Park Service partner to protect the artifacts from that night. Through these objects, we can better understand how that single event transformed our nation. Give to Ford's Theatre to help continue sharing the stories that shaped a nation.