It's Hard to Understand How Weird This Must Have Been
In my Shakespeare in Production edition of The Merchant of Venice they spend a paragraph talking about Edwin Booth as one of the first notable American Shylocks. Edwin Booth is John Wilkes Booth's brother, something I knew but didn't really think much about in the past because he never came up in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Well, I went to the ever reliable Wikipedia to brush up on E. Booth up and came across this gem:
In an interesting coincidence, Edwin Booth saved Abraham Lincoln's son, Robert, from serious injury or even death....The exact date of the incident is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place in late 1864 or early 1865, shortly before Edwin's brother, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Lincoln.To recap: the most famous actor of the era saved the life of the president's son then the actor's quasi-famous brother killed the president.
It's impossible to put this in a contemporary context. It'd be like if terrorists took over a plane with the president's daughters on it only to have Sylvester Stallone save them. Then, months later, an aggrieved Frank Stallone shot the president.*
Who would even cover that story? TMZ? Honestly, I think it would end the internet. We'd all walk outside blinking and muttering to ourselves. Nothing would make sense. From this point forward I think history textbooks should have a chapter on the Lincoln assassination called: "Seriously, this was bizarre."
*Yes, I'm writing that screenplay. Yes, Frank Stallone is attached.