Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Edwin Booth Saved Robert Todd Lincoln's Life

Robert Todd Lincoln
In a strange twist of fate, Edwin Booth, the brother of John Wilkes Booth, once saved the life of Abraham Lincoln's son Robert Todd Lincoln.

In late 1864 or early 1865, Lincoln was waiting to buy a train ticket in Jersey City, New Jersey when he was accidentally pushed off the railway platform into the path of an oncoming train. He later described the incident in a letter to the editor of The Century Magazine:

The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car. The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.
Edwin Booth

Edwin, a famous theater actor at the time, had no idea the man he saved was the president's son. A few months after the incident occurred, Robert Todd, who was serving in the Union army at the time, told his fellow officer Colonel Adam Badeau about how Booth had saved his life. Badeau happened to be friends with Booth and wrote him a letter praising his heroic behavior and thanking him for rescuing the president's son.

A few months later, when Edwin's brother assassinated Robert's father, Abraham Lincoln, Edwin took comfort in the fact that, despite what his brother did, he himself had saved the president's only living son.

Sources:

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever”; Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

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