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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Was Booth fully radicalized into the Confederate cause during his time in New Orleans? John Wilkes Booth’s three weeks in New Orleans in the spring of 1864 occurred during a pivotal time of turbulence and change in his life in the year preceding his assassination of President Lincoln and brought several major issues to the forefront of his consciousness: his constant public comparison to his family and its legacy, his faltering stage career, his financial troubles, and his perceived oppression of the Confederate South, which he loved. Existing literature has established that 1864 was a pivotal year in which Booth would abandon his stage career and become a conspirator in the assassination, yet it fails to suggest a potential timeline or factually supported reason for his radicalization. Booth was always sympathetic to the cause of slavery, but what exactly drove him to do something as extreme as killing the President? This thesis examines the personal problems and failures Booth experienced in the months leading up to the assassination, specifically during his time in New Orleans, to explore how they contributed to his turning from struggling actor to Confederate assassin.

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