As the world looks back on the 100 years since the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic on the night of April 14, 1912, we also must not forget an event that happened on the same day 47 years prior – the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre by John Wilkes Booth.
While many of us know the connection that Newport holds to the Titanic tragedy with the passing of several notable Newporters who were aboard the doomed ship, many may not realize the connection to the Lincoln tragedy that are written on the pages of Newport’s history.
According to the Newport Historical Society, Booth visited Newport in April 1865, only a matter of days before he shot President Lincoln in Washington DC. A guest of the Aquidneck House Hotel, Booth stayed in the inn that was once located on the west side of Corne Street, between Mill and Pelham streets. The site is now occupied by modern, colonial style condominium townhouses. Some may recall it was the site of the Knights of Columbus parking lot.
The Historical Society’s website also reveals that Booth’s brother Edwin later went on to build Boothden on Indian Avenue in Middletown. Edwin built the house in 1883, after a long career as a Shakespearean actor of world renown. He won and lost his fortune several times and endured professional difficulties after John tainted the family name.
While indeed a gloomy date in American history, the Newport Historical Society holds several items associated with President Lincoln in its collection, including a silver tassel from the drapery of the catafalque upon which his remains were carried from Washington DC to Springfield, IL.
For more interesting “History Bytes,” head to the Historical Society’s website.