“Who spoliated that book?” Benjamin “Spoons” Butler wanted to know. John Wilkes Booth, assassin of Abraham Lincoln, had kept a diary. On the run from the law, Booth carried that diary with him for awhile in his coat. According to researcher Ray Neff, Booth discarded his coat, containing the diary, “at Macedoak Creek April 23 . The jacket and diary were picked up by two Indians and turned over to detectives,” Neff said. (Bakersfield Californian (Bakersfield, CA), UPI report, April 13, 1977. “Lincoln killer fled to India?”)
Fleeing pursuers, John Wilkes Booth and his dim-witted companion David E. Herold “fell in with three Confederate soldiers – Captain Jett, Lieutenant Ruggles and Lieutenant Bainbridge.” This trio of young Reb officers helped hide Booth and Herold in a barn owned by Richard H. Garrett. “Not only did these officers hide the fugitives but they even watched over them.” When their watchfulness detected the nearness of pursuing Yankee soldiers, “Bainbridge and Ruggles then rode up to Garrett’s farm and warned Booth that soldiers were on his track and that he had best leave at once.” (Why Was Lincoln Murdered?, by Otto Eisenschiml. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1937)
John Wilkes Booth escaped from Garrett’s barn. Someone named Boyd was shot dead there, supposedly by a deranged Union sergeant, Boston Corbett. Following the track of this Sergeant Corbett, we find him in 1887 employed as assistant doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. There he suddenly brandished a revolver, was arrested, and sent to the Topeka Asylum for the Insane. On May 26, 1888, he escaped from the asylum. Unfortunately for the “Corbett shot Booth” story, “an autopsy proved that [the supposed] Booth had been slain by a pistol bullet fired at close range for there were powder burns at the nape of the neck.” Sergeant Corbett allegedly shot “Booth” with a rifle from a distance of 30 feet. (Daily Review (Hayward, CA), Dec. 29, 1963. “Lincoln Death Still Shrouded”, by Michael Mac Dougall)
But anyway, in all these strange circumstances, the diary of John Wilkes Booth was recovered by Lieutenant Luther Baker, nephew of Col. Lafayette Baker, and delivered into the hands of Edwin Stanton, the North’s War Secretary. (And it was Luther Baker, incidentally, who was the only man to have gotten close enough to the supposed Booth to have fired a shot which left powder burns at the nape of the neck.) That there was this Booth diary and someone in power had it did not become generally known until 1867. And when the Booth diary was given to a congressional committee, an unseen hand had torn out 18 pages from it. That caused Benjamin “Spoons” Butler to demand, “Who spoliated that book?”
The Mac Dougall newspaper report from 1963 (op. cit.) says that Edwin Stanton (image at top) was “a bitter political foe” of Abraham Lincoln. Stanton belonged to the “radical” abolitionist faction in Washington City (now called Washington, DC). But Lincoln was more focused on preserving the Union. In his August 22, 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln famously said, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.” There is a fundamental historical error in the new Steven Spielberg “Lincoln” movie, which suggests the martyred president belonged to the “radical” abolitionist faction.
Robert Todd Lincoln, oldest son of the rail-splitter president, “believed Stanton guilty [of his father’s murder] and said so over and over again.” Stanton had repeatedly denied having even seen the Booth diary. “Subsequently, after much testimony to the contrary, Stanton admitted he did have the diary and produced it.” But someone had “spoliated” the book! Where were the missing pages? (Mac Dougal, op. cit.)