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    Description

    John Wilkes Booth Autograph Signature "J W Booth & Lady . . . Boston", written on a large folio leaf extracted from the guest register of the "AQUIDNECK HOUSE" hotel, the hostelry's name printed atop each side in ornate type, n.p. [Newport, Rhode Island], 5 April [1865]. Signatures of other guests fill both sides of the leaf, and a clerk has noted after each name the room number they were assigned and, by letter code, their time of check-in. These entries show that Booth "& Lady" were given "apartment" number 3 at "B" time (breakfast) but did not stay long, since at "L" time (luncheon) the same day their room was given to a Joseph Smith of Fort Adams. Interestingly, James Walker of Cambridge, Mass., the former president of Harvard, has signed the register only a couple of names below Booth. This piece has engendered much speculation as to the identity of Booth's "Lady", with most scholars concluding she was Lucy Hale, the daughter of abolitionist senator and one-time Presidential Candidate John P. Hale of New Hampshire, who Lincoln had just appointed American minister to Spain. His daughter's beauty and studied indifference had attracted the attentions, more or less serious, of Robert Todd Lincoln, John Hay, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., among others, but she had chosen John Wilkes Booth above them all. The couple were understood by intimates to be affianced, despite her dislike for his profession, his distaste for her familial politics, and her parents' opposition to the match. Lucy is supposed, through her father, to have supplied Booth with a pass to Lincoln's second inaugural on 4 March (which he reported to his little band of conspirators would have been an excellent chance to kill the president), and they may have attended the Inaugural Ball. On the day they visited the Aquidneck House, Booth and his lady friend took a long walk after signing in. He was despondent over the fall of Richmond, which Lincoln was visiting at that very moment. Upon returning to the hotel, Booth told the clerk his lady was not feeling well and that dinner should be sent to their room; they were gone by the time it came. Ten days later Lincoln was dead and Booth in flight. Once he, too, was dead, a heavily veiled Lucy Hale visited the Montauk with her father to view the body, from which she secured a lock of hair; her father soon took her to Spain, leaving any embarrassing questions an ocean away. Supposedly Lucy wrote Edwin Booth that she would have married John Wilkes "even at the foot of the scaffold". As it was, she wed William E. Chandler of New Hampshire, who served in the senate and as secretary of the navy, but the match seems not to have been very happy. Lucy's photo was one of five found tucked into Booth's diary when he died; she kept his letters until her death in 1915, directing in her will that they be burned. Lightly stained and toned; near fine.

    Provenance
    : Barrett, part of lot 646; cited in Carl Sandburg, Lincoln Collector, and (erroneously as a clipped signature) in Michael Kauffmann, American Brutus. Provenance: Sang lot 1074.


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    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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