Nearly 150 years ago the search for John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, and David Herold, a co-conspirator, was coming to an end and when asked for their autographs they instead wrote this joint poem:
He put aside the dainty bribe
The little proffered hand
Albeit he held it in his thought
The dearest in the land
Not sharply nor with sudden heart
But with regretful grace
Meanwhile the shadow of his pain
Fell white upon his face
Dark daughter of the Sultry South
Thy dangerous eyes & lips
Essayed to win the prize and leave
Dear honor we Eclipse
She shyly clung upon his brow
He stayed now at the door
I could not love thee, dear, so much
Loved I not Honor more.
“Adieu, forever mind, my dear
Adieu forever more!”
Within three days of writing these poems Booth was captured and killed and Herold was captured alive. The leader of the troop capturing Booth and Herold was Luther Baker from Lansing, Michigan.
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is holding a series of events commemorating the end of the Civil War and the capture of Booth. Read more about the events here.