Meet Former Catonsville Student John Wilkes Booth

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John Wilkes Booth

Abraham Lincoln died 150 years ago this morning, after being shot by Confederate sympathizer, actor, and former student in Catonsville, John Wilkes Booth.

No one likes being¬† associated with Booth, but here we are. Not only is Green Mount Cemetery his final resting place, but Booth spent a brief but “transformative” time as a student at St. Timothy’s Hall preparatory school in Catonsville, the Baltimore Sun reports.

“John didn’t hear anything at the school that didn’t confirm his thoughts about slavery,” professor of history Terry Alford told the Sun. “That was a thoroughly Southern school.”

Also, this just in: he wasn’t a weird loner. He had rationale; he had a crew. So said that selfsame professor of history on NPR’s Morning Edition. He was so hot and popular, fans tore at his clothes. He needed someone to keep the masses from mauling him as he walked out of a theater. Cool.

I find it hard to think of Booth as anything but an Abraham Lincoln killer. I certainly can’t imagine him as an occasionally heroic (he once saved a woman whose dress was on fire), devastatingly handsome actor who just happened to love slavery and hate Abraham Lincoln. But as a thought experiment, I’ll try.

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  1. I’m surprised to hear he went to school in Catonsville. That’s interesting. His family home is in Bel Air.

  2. Actually, the headmaster of the school was a Northern abolitionist. He had some trouble with the southern students–Catonsville had everything from estates with slaves to free black citizen businessmen, to stops on the Underground Railroad, all in this rather small space.

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