The Man Who Wanted to Kill Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson often elicited strong, violent emotions. During his presidency, one man tried to assault him, and another tried to shoot him. What you may not realize is that John Wilkes Booth’s father, Junius Brutus Booth, threatened to kill President Andrew Jackson three decades before the younger Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on that fateful Good Friday in 1865.

Junius Brutus Booth was a noted American actor during the antebellum period. In 1835, he sent Jackson a threatening letter. If the president refused to pardon two pirates who faced the death penalty, Booth warned him that he would “cut your throat whilst you are sleeping.” Later in the letter, the actor also promised to have Jackson “burnt at the Stake.”

Booth’s alcoholism apparently led to his menacing correspondence. He was known for acting irrationally while in drunken fugues, and that appears to be the case here.

What’s really interesting is that historians considered this letter a fake until Dan Feller and Co. confirmed its authenticity as part of a History Detectives episode.

For more information on this letter, see this article in a Knoxville newspaper and this fascinating Library of Congress blog post about the role conservators played in verifying the letter’s authenticity.

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3 Replies to “The Man Who Wanted to Kill Andrew Jackson”

  1. Wow I had no idea about Booth’s father and Andrew Jackson. My husband and I are about to open a bed and breakfast just across the river from Garrett’s Farm where John Wilkes Booth died. The property is the birthplace of James Madison. Just this week I have confirmed that the detachment that pursued Booth and Harold stopped at the property and ate and slept there.

      1. Sadly Garrett’s Farm is no longer there. Shortly after the death of Booth, people came and were pulling pieces of the house off to keep.

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