OPINION: It’s time to test the remains of John Wilkes Booth
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Afterward, Booth jumped to the stage and shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis,” and miraculously managed to flee the capital on horseback with a broken leg. Twelve days later, Union forces surrounded the assassin and shot him dead at Richard Garrett’s barn in Virginia.
That’s what the history books will tell you. But for over a century, others have argued that a political conspiracy reaching the highest levels of government perpetrated the greatest hoax ever played on the American public … and that Booth, who was working on behalf of Vice President Andrew Johnson, escaped.
Similar to the way mainstream culture pokes fun at 9/11 and Bin Laden conspiracy theories, so do most Americans dismiss this theory, as well. But on Monday, February 25, 2013, Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-Md. 8th District) wrote a letter to the U.S. Army passing along the concerns of his constituent, Nate Orlowek, who has been researching the plausibility Booth escaped for 40-odd years and wants to clear the whole story up, once and for all.
The proposition was simple: to compare the DNA of the assassin with that of his brother’s — the famous 19th-century actor, Edwin Booth. If the DNA matched, it would prove that Booth died at the barn like the history books tell us. If it didn’t, there would be conclusive proof that John Wilkes Booth cheated death after slaying, perhaps, the greatest president in U.S. history.