Description

    John Wilkes Booth Autograph Letter Signed "John W. Booth", 1 page, 8.5" x 10", "Tudor Hall" (the Booth family home in Harford County, Maryland), August 8, 1854. To "My dear fellow" (Samuel William "Billy" O'Laughlen, brother of Michael O'Laughlen who would join John Wilkes Booth's plot to abduct President Lincoln), a revealing letter which, aside from some adolescent boasting, touches upon a significant incident from his youth. "In these last two weeks, I have had more excitement than I have had for a good while. First and foremost I went to a champagne drinking, and you had better believe that the road (home) seemed longer that night than it ever did before. 2dly we had a client [tenant] on the place whom we could not agree with. We had several sprees with him. In one he called my sister a liar. I knocked him down, which made him bleed like a butcher. We got the sheriff to put him off the place. He then warranted me and in a couple of weeks I have to stand trial for assault and battery..."

    He mentions visiting the Rocks of Deer Creek, and on Sunday going "to that large camp meeting with the hope of seeing you...but I was disappointed... The Indians were up here the other day with their great bear. Excuse my bad writing and...for not writing to you sooner..." The encounter with the "client" Booth mentions was doubtless the same one his beloved sister Asia recounted in her memoir The Unlocked Book. Their mother, after being widowed, rented the family farmland, stock, and hired slaves to a man who abused all, and insulted Mrs. Booth and her daughters when they protested. Young Wilkes went to adjust matters and seek an apology, but ended up breaking a stick over the man's head. The only consequence he seems to have suffered was being bound over to keep the peace. Billy and Michael O'Laughlen were friends of Booth from boyhood, when they were neighbors in Baltimore during the acting family's intermittent residence in that city.

    The letter has been mounted along the left margin to a strip of lined paper, with file holes made just barely affecting the actual letter. A few minor separations at folds, and some soiling. Ink remains quite bold. Near fine.




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    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
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