Quotulatiousness

November 18, 2012

Having (in)famous ancestors

Filed under: History, Humour, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 11:40

John Scalzi is having mixed reactions to all the Twitter updates about Lincoln and theatres:

And he wrote about his infamous relative a few years ago:

Every family should have an interesting skeleton in the family closet. In my family, it’s John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln, who, of course, was the President of the United States during the American Civil War. Booth assassinated Lincoln not long after the cessation of hostilities between the Union and the Confederacy, by sneaking into the President’s box at Ford’s Theater (the show: Our American Cousin) and shooting him in the back of the head with a pistol. Booth then leaped from the box to the stage, shouting “Sic semper tyrannis” (“Thus it is with tyrants”) and “The South is avenged.” He broke his leg but managed to escape nevertheless. However, eleven days later, he was discovered in a barn, burned out, and then shot (by himself or by a soldier, it’s unclear). He died shortly thereafter. Some maintain that Booth’s body was never positively identified, so it’s possible he actually escaped. Either way, he’s dead now.

For the record, I’m not a direct descendant — my line goes through one of his nine other siblings, making him something along the lines of a great-great-great-great-great-grand-uncle. Whenever I mention my relationship to him, though, people’s eyes get wide, their jaws go momentarily slack, and some people actually back up a step, as if a long dormant assassination gene might suddenly fire up, and they’d be the unlucky recipient. I get a kick out of that. Then I go for the extra point my mentioning that John Wilkes and I have the same birthday: May 10, 131 years apart. By the time I mention I get edgy handling pennies and five dollar bills, people begin to wend their way to the nearest door.

2 Comments

  1. When I was a schoolboy, I used to yank the chain of my schoolmates by telling them my grandfather had been a kamikaze pilot, and flew 10 successful missions.

    Comment by Chris Taylor — November 18, 2012 @ 15:30

  2. The kind of folk who were also puzzled by questions like this one: “Captain Cook made three voyages of exploration in the Pacific. Which one did he die on?”

    Comment by Nicholas — November 19, 2012 @ 09:03

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

« « Rand Paul versus Gary Johnson| The Two Scotts psycho-analyze the New York Jets » »

Powered by WordPress