Abraham Lincoln

The Last Witness to Lincoln's Assassination Goes On a Game Show

It has been 150 years since John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln. This man was there.


One hundred and fifty years ago today, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln. To mark the occasion, here's a witness to the assassination—apparently the only witness still alive at the time—appearing on I've Got a Secret in 1956:

Near the end of the segment, the host holds up an article about the guest, called "I Saw Lincoln Shot." If you want to read the article for yourself, go here.

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  1. But what did he think of the play?

    1. He thought that the actresses skirts were too long. He paid good money to sit in the front row and could barely see their ankles.

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  2. Booth waited too long.

  3. The thing about the Lincoln assassination was that Booth was one of the most famous and celebrated actors in America at the time.

    Imagine if George Clooney assassinated Obama, that’s how bizarre and sensational the news to the American people was.

    1. Who would be the bigger racist, Booth or Clooney? One of their victims was the savior to millions suffering under the yolk of white oppression, and the other signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

    2. Bizarre? Bizarre is male fashion in the 80’s. Bizarre is when your sister-in-law hugs you, and means it.

      George Clooney assassinating Obama would be freaking awesome. But only if we got a cell-video capture of him monologuing.

      1. “President Biden”.

        1. Crazy Uncle Joe. Sure, why not. What difference at this point, would it make?

      2. George Clooney assassinating Obama would be freaking awesome.

        On so… so many levels.

        The only way it could be better is if He, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon conspired to do it.

          1. CHRIS PRATT. And a time-travelling Markie Mark with his Calvin Kleins showing.

            Ocean’s 13: Time Lords

            1. Can “The Fun Bunch” be there with Markie Mark?

              1. We have nine spots open, why not.

                Chicks. We need chicks. I’m thinking Lindsey Lohan has been working a brilliant cover all this time, and handles all of the team’s ordnance.

      3. Bizarre is allowing cigarettes to be advertised on television.


        1. Bizarre is an unregulated internet!

          /post millennial from the future

      4. Bizarre and awesome are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I’d say they are a great combination that happens a lot.

    3. That’s like world’s tallest midget, isn’t it? Prior to film, actors were one of the lower castes of society.

      So it’s probably more like Joaquin Phoenix assassinating Obama.

      1. This is utterly believable. Did you see that beard?

      2. Johnny Cash assassinating the President? Unpossible!!!!

        /conflates actors with their characters all the time

      3. Don’t you mean Robert Redford?

    4. I was under the impression that his brother Edwin was more famous, so it would be more like if Stephen Baldwin did it.

      1. Edwin Booth saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln, the President’s son.

  4. Somewhat related. As of a year ago, the VA was still paying one Civil War pension to a veteran’s daughter:


    1. I believe I flagged this one a couple months ago.

      1. Hat tip to Eddie.

        1. Oh, Triplett was a character – not only did he marry kind of late (hence the daughter alive today), he switched from the Confederacy to the Union and served under the infamous Colonel Kirk – earning a reputation in his North Carolina community as a “traitor” to the Confederacy. Like Kirk himself, Triplett was not someone you would like to cross:

          “Pvt. Triplett had farmland and a big house near Elk Creek, in Wilkes County, N.C. Long after his death, local men would drink moonshine, play banjo and fiddle, and swap legends about what a “hard man” Mose Triplett had been, said his grandson, Charlie Triplett, who heard the stories from his father. He wore a Wyatt Earp mustache and would pull the fangs from rattlesnakes, then keep them as pets in a chicken coop.”

          Who’s a good rattlesnake? Who’s Daddy’s cute little rattlesnake?


          1. he switched from the Confederacy to the Union

            This is actually not all that unusual. The Confederate Army suffered a high desertion rate ? both from people sneaking off to go home (some left to plant or harvest their crops and then returned back to the army when that was done while others simply tired of the fighting and went home) and others seeking to defect.

            On Sherman’s March to the Sea, his Army grew rapidly from accepting Confederate deserters and freed slaves so much so that he had to reject many people who wanted to fight for him. Many of the rejected volunteers became camp followers.

  5. “Yeah, I saw a flash, like gunpowder, from a nearby grassy knoll. Then I heard Booth saying, ‘they’re going to make me a patsy, I better get out of here!'”

    1. “That has been our guest, ladies and gentlemen, the last witness to the Lincoln assassination – ironically, he was run over by a Ford in a tragic accident.”

      “Hey, I’m still here!”

      “Oops, that isn’t scheduled until tomorrow.”

      1. Wait, he “fell down the stairs” shortly before the show?

  6. Manhunt by James L. Swanson is an excellent book about the hunt for Booth, who was a vicious bigot. I’m glad he’s dead.

    1. Yeah, if he’d evaded his pursuers he’d be alive today!

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  8. Just to preemptively annoy the Lincoln haters, I’m going to say that pretty much everything that Lincoln did was OK. Certainly no more horrible than a lot of presidents. And “insurrection” is right there in the constitution. Maybe he would have done reconstruction as badly as it was actually done. But that didn’t happen.

    As someone with a rather anarchistic temperament, I think it is dumb to argue about what small differences in how government has run things would have been better/ruined the country. As long as you have governments, you get stuff like that. Inappropriate fine tuning and a few bad actors isn’t the problem.

    And while the Union was hardly fighting some noble crusade against slavery, the South was fighting explicitly for slavery, so fuck them.

    1. As long as you have governments, you get stuff like that.

      More than that, it’s when you have war that you have stuff like that. A peacetime Lincoln presidency probably would have been the usual awfulness – he was a big Whig that would’ve thrown federal money at inefficient projects – but the bad stuff he did as a wartime president are just about what you’d expect of any leader dealing with insurrection/a border war (however you want to view it). They’re huge violations of liberty, we can call them criminal actions, but that’s inevitable with war. Which is all the more reason to avoid war.

      1. Were Republicans successors to the Whigs? I’m not too good with 19th century politics.

        1. That’s my understanding. The Whig Party dissolved and reformed as the Republican Party. Lincoln was a Whig party leader and big fan of Henry Clay.

  9. Matt Damon was the contestant? Wow, I didn’t realize he was that old.

  10. I love the way they turned it around in Gangs of New York, wherein Abe Lincoln was on stage & somebody else got shot in the audience. They were taking turns, it seems.

  11. what about the last person to ever see Abe’s body:

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