Booth’s Diary

Booth's actual diary, currently on exhibit at Ford's Theater in Washington DC, is missing 18 pages. Although the prop pages used in the game were later destroyed, the text was saved in Keeper's notes, and is reproduced here. Parts of this text were lifted from “The Lincoln Conspiracy” by Balsiger and Sellier, in which the authors claim that the missing 18 pages were discovered in an attic owned by descendants of Edwin Stanton. Press the “More” button for help in decoding the cipher sections.

September 23 (1864)
I have heard that George McClellan may be nominated with George Pendleton as vice president. If that is so, it may be possible to bring this stupid, futile war to an end. If McClellan is elected, it portends favorably for the South where he has always enjoyed a favored status. With McClellan as president it might still be possible to reconcile the North and South. I pray that this is possible.

September 28
If Richmond falls, God only knows how it will affect the war’s outcome. If McClellan is elected, this stupid war may be brought to an end. The South likes McClellan. He might be able to reconcile both sides.
Patrick Martin has approached me to discuss my plans. He has friends in Maryland who may wish to help. After I’ve considered the situation from every angle, perhaps I’ll send a letter to Jefferson Davis. I have a friend who could deliver such a message. We’ll see if Davis answers.

September 30


This should assure them of my sincerity. Have received instructions to go to Montreal where I am to meet Clement Clay and Jacob Thompson.

October 18
St. Lawrence Hall, Montreal
Met with Thompson and Clay at breakfast. “If you’re willing to undertake a mission for the Confederacy, as I understand you are, we can use your services.”—J.T. I am to be made a Colonel in the Confederate Detached Service. I am to find and send north 15 men whom I trust. The messenger brings me $20,000 in gold to recruit them. I’m to start at once. Watson is to transfer funds to my account at Chaffey, and J.T. has made mention of the Ontario Bank. They have recommended John Surratt, and I have others in mind as well. The situation is almost ideal.
Our men have struck three banks in St Albans, Vermont, from here. The city is alive with the news.

October 19
Have met Martin this noon. He gives me letters of introduction to Cox, Jones, Queen and Mudd. Telling him of my concerns over the luggage, he recommends shipping my theatrical baggage to Nassau. He is sailing there by schooner, thence into the Confederacy, and says the North’s patrol boats are unlikely to interfere with the ship. I have agreed to send my trunk along with him. I will not like losing the uniform.

October 22
Had Sam Arnold up to my room here at Barnum’s this eve., and Michael O’Laughlin. Laugh still moving drugs south through Chaffey. Both served two years, now taken oath. They eagerly heard my plan. They left undecided, but Arnold returned to say he would join. “I believe O’Laughlin will, too, but he needs a week in time and a hundred dollars in cash.”—S.A. I gave him the money, saying “Give this to him, and tell him he also has the time he needs.” I think they will both be useful.

October 25
I ran into John Surratt the other day and in a by-the-way conversation, he told me that he was now serving the Confederacy as a courier between Washington, Richmond, and Canada. I told him that Clay and Thompson had already told me, and that they had suggested I look him up. We spoke of O’Laughlin and other mutual acquaintances. I believe he may be of use. He comes tonight bringing with him four trusted men he swears by. We are to meet at Ella Washington’s boarding house in Georgetown.

November 6
Attended mass with Dr. Queen and family this morning. Met Cox, Jones and Mudd. Also met Dave Herold, who recollected me from Charlestown in ‘59. He could be of use. Tomorrow noon we are to go see George Atzerodt at Port Tobacco, where I am told he has a boat. The planters have been most accommodating. Am staying the night with Mudd and family. Their greivances are most heartfelt. The tyrant’s policies are intolerable: I am told 20,000 federal troops are stationed in Charles County alone, arresting people at whim.

November 7
Atzerodt’s boat is unimpressive but serviceable. The landing is perhaps four hours from Washington, and two to Virginia. Atzerodt and Herold are both mine. Killed a dog. Quite effective.

November 10
Met with planters Bowman, John Thompson, Samuel Cox, and Thomas Jones. They have all pledged their assistance. A Thomas Harbin can be enlisted, but he has a family to support and would require $100 a month. Brother-in-law to Jones. Survey tedious.

November 24
I’ve arranged four abduction routes for bringing the tyrant to Richmond. Caldwell will secure British ships for the Potomac and Patuxent routes.

December 9
At Eva Grey’s home this evening I met John Conness, a repulsive man. A radical. He claims to have known Eddie when he toured California. He took me into the library for brandy and cigars and confidential talk. He claims to have a weaver friend in the North who can provide bandages for a price. I have agreed to meet him tomorrow. I believe he’s on the post roads committee.

December 10
Conness showed me letters from Thompson, Sen. Chandler, and Tucker, saying “These should prove I’m not an enemy spy.” He has given me the name of a wholesale druggist who will provide bandages and 5,000 to 25,000 ounces of quinine, for a price. He is on the committee, and for $3,000 offers a six week list of passwords, in advance. Conness said he would supply the new passwords every six weeks, providing, of course, there is always another $3,000 forthcoming for each list. He does not care who wins the war. “Mr. Booth, I am not a patriot either for the North or South, but rather a man with a small pocket and a large need!” —J.C. He seems to care only for the money. I do not believe Tucker and the others can take him too seriously. He must be expedient for them somehow.

December 13
I’m to go to Richmond to meet with Judah Benjamin. I’ve had word through Benjamin F Klove. I leave to-morrow.

December 15
Met Benjamin today. Then he takes me to meet Alexander Stephens. He expressed his gratitude and confidence in my plans. The two of them and I went to see Jefferson Davis. He was thin and pale with worry. I assured him he could depend on me. It was a great pleasure.
An order for $70,000 is given to me, drawn on a friendly bank. Benjamin is to arrange a meeting with some northern speculators, who have some interest in my plans. Although I resisted, the president assured me they could be trusted, and most helpful.

December 19
In Philadelphia today, I met with Jay Cooke. Meeting arranged by J. B. His concern for discretion was almost insulting. He asked me to meet with several others besides himself at the Astor House in New York on Friday next. It is to be arranged.

December 23
New York
Jay Cooke introduced me to his brother Henry. Henry Cooke speaks very highly of Judah Benjamin, saying he trusts J.B. to send the best man for the job, by which he means to express his confidence in me. With Jay Cooke at the Astor Hotel I met Thurlow Weed, Sen. Chandler, and a Mister Bell who said he was a friend of John Conness. Also Frank Peck—1013, and my old friend, Colonel Browning, who I hoped never to see again. Samuel Noble, cotton broker; Tom Caldwell; Mr. J. V. Barnes, cotton; Robert Watson, cotton speculator; S. R. Masters, gold.
After making introductions, Jay Cooke began by announcing that Lincoln’s friends and former partners, Ward Lamon and Leonard Swett, are speculating heavily in cotton and gold. Lamon is reputedly the only real friend the tyrant has in Washington. Cooke says that Lamon is the key. He can get Lincoln to sign cotton passes without asking questions. Apparently a Treasury Department official Hansen Risley can be relied on to issue the blanks, and Lamon can secure the signature with ease. Lamon can then sell the pass to the speculators, who trade the cotton for meat and other supplies the South needs. The speculators made quite clear to me that they are very unhappy with the frequent NDP raiding and seizure of the meat and other supplies as contraband, which makes their work impossible. Each and every one asserted that he had dealings with the Confederate States and would continue to whenever possible. The speculators in cotton would do anything—including murder—to make the amount of money they have. They suggest I can help them while at the same time helping the Confederacy. I don’t see why not. Millions of dollars in profits are at stake, and while the tyrant rules no-one benefits. Cooke gave me two letters, one to Beverly Tucker and the other to Jacob Thompson. Both in cipher. I’m to leave for Montreal at once.

December 26
St Lawrence Hall
Arrived at Hall to see Tucker leaving with Lafayette Baker! Found George Sanders, who said Tucker must not realize who Baker is. Waited in Sanders’ room while Sanders went to warn Tucker. When they returned, Tucker offered no explanation. Most curious. I did not give him the letter I had for him. Jacob Thompson arrived, and, being left with no alternative, I delivered both letters. Thompson suggested dinner. After eating, Thompson gave me $50,000 in bank notes with instructions to take $15,000 to Sen. Conness and to leave in a sealed envelope $20,000 in notes at the home of Sen. Wade! The balance is to be used for further recruitment. I am to proceed with the plan, although I no longer feel sure I know precisely what the plan is.

December 30
A mystifying meeting with Sen. Conness. For coffee at the National Hotel. He asked if I’d been to Montreal, by which he meant did I have his money. He asked if I had Wade’s envelope as well, and announced that in the future he is to be the contact for Wade and Chandler as well as himself. He told me he knows of my plans, and assured me he represents parties interested in helping. When I asked why a radical Republican should be interested in helping the South, he said his motives were not important to my involvement.
Conness told me of a new plan.


When I asked why, he said the reasons for the change were confidential.
They want it to occur sometime after the inauguration but before the cessation of hostilities. His agents can keep me informed of the movements of all three men, to help plan the strike. If all three cannot be taken at the same time, Conness insists that L. be the first. I have agreed to the expanded plan, but have made it clear that more resources for recruitment will be necessary. Conness has agreed. We are to meet later.
When Patrick Martin first approached me, the Marylanders wanted only to assist me in my original plan. The Confederate States provided money and counsel to secure this effort. J.B. organized a meeting with Northern speculators, whose motives, though I despise them, I can understand. But now Chandler and Conness and Wade are involved, and they seem to be associated with the speculators, and through them with the Confederacy itself. I’m beginning to suspect that someone hides the truth.

January 18 (1865)
Incompetents! Arnold and Laugh failed to appear at Ford’s as planned. Nor did the scoundrel so all was not lost.

March 1
Barnes arrived from Montreal to announce that they’ve replaced me! Me! It was my idea! I had the plans well underway long before they appeared on the scene! And now they want a military man because they don’t think a civilian can handle it! They’ve gotten some Reb turncoat named Captain B. It doesn’t matter. The Marylanders, Conness and the Confederacy are still mine. I let Barnes know it meant nothing to me. I suspect kidnaping is no longer their plan. The inauguration is Saturday.

March 15
Newspapers report Lincoln too ill to attend Grover’s. Met Payne and Surratt at Ford’s to study layout of box. The two of them and I met with Arnold, Laugh, Atzerodt, Dave, and James Wood at Gautier’s. Arnold and Laugh giving much difficulty. They are cowards. Arnold says if it is not accomplished within the week he will withdraw.

March 16
Incompetents! Surratt’s information was completely unreliable! I will not be goaded into another hasty attempt. Let the cowards desert if they will. My theatre plan will be carried out, with no more bungling!

March 17
This morning before I was even dressed a knock at the door. It was Lafayette Baker! Announces he is to be a General. He had three envelopes for me! Personal messages from President Davis, J. B. and Clement Clay! Baker seemed to know what they contained, for he urged me to follow the instructions they contained and let him be on his way. J. B. instructed me to give him $10,000, which I did.
I wrote immediately to J.B. and sent a courier to Richmond. Then called on Sen. Conness. He knew all about it! He claims to have known Baker in San Francisco in ‘51, and says he’s completely trustworthy. Says he’s with us, and that he can’t divulge more. I despise that man.
Had a reply from J.B. by courier: “Trust him.”
I am informed that Lincoln will pass by a certain spot tomorrow. We will be waiting.

March 18
The information they provide is useless, wasting my time. How do they expect me to be effective when they neglect to mention the cavalry squad accompanying the tyrant? Seven hours, useless!
Baker comes and brings with him Col. Conger. I told Baker to leave him because talking to too many people can be dangerous. Baker brings a message from the secretary, and a fascinating proposal.

Baker 12 Am only is the he baker interesting. Find reward there at Caesar it I write this meet hotel offer me shall we assures will national to by to of system me to-morrow. A I'll see.

At Eva Grey’s this eve. spoke with Conness. “I believe the time has come. I expect to have information to-morrow or the next day.”—J.C. They are beyond belief. No patriotism, no honor. Cowards, hiding behind their office, spouting hypocrisy.

March 19
I am misled again! Conness is making a fool of me. I do not know if Caesar knows of this man’s incompetence. He must be warned. That man is endangering all our plans.

March 20
A sixth attempt failed! I am told that our ambush was suspected. Conness may be more than incompetent. I can rely on him no longer. I purchased a carbine for $5 at Navy Yard from Wakefield. Payne, Surratt and I waited near the gardens where Lincoln rides. I shot his hat off. Payne fired twice. We eluded capture within a couple of miles.

March 21
That Conger called on me at Herndon House this a.m. Called me a fool at a circus. Suggested that I had been fired. Threatened that if I made another move without orders, I and my friends would be found in the Potomac. Payne was with me. “Say the word, Cap, and I’ll kill the tin soldier.” —L.P. Must get word to Caesar. Is our agreement off? No matter who speaks for Baker, I do not like him and will not trust him. I believe Baker and Eckert and the Secretary are in control of our activities, and this frightens me.

Davis 21 Things I harmed aims. Seem believe and Caesar will Eckert own have but until down. Leave tyrant's would have Baker God I and their not head. Wash immortal calm will the I to in his.

April 1
New York
Richmond has fallen. The speculators’ plan is destroyed. I attempted to warn them of the danger of Baker, they instructed me to return to Washington and await further instructions. Damn them.

April 9
The city cries with news of Lee’s surrender. If it is true, it means the end. Everything we have planned and striven for has come to naught. Unless I can get word to Caesar. I have had an idea that may yet salvage his plans and my hopes. The rest can rot in hell.

April 10
I have had word from Caesar. There is a new plan, other arrangements to be made. I am to have charge. All is not lost. I must find an excellent smith or cutler. Time is short.

Brown 211 Made task designed recover attempts. Our the all is wasted abduction can have the it mine. Really we on brain ease. Knife will immortality then and a with the time brain. Caesar needs have foolish I I for have is.

April 13
By Caesar’s gods, I swear I shall lay the body of this tyrant upon the altar of Mars. If by this act, I am slain, they too shall be cast into hell, for I have given information to a friend who will have the nation know who the traitors are. But if my escape is complete, I shall win that to which I have always been destined—immortality!
Ia Yog Sothoth!

(undated, but below April 14)
Wilkes 12 Caesar. Country for on me enough. I reward to is will and will away to is to the sent be assures distraction over my claim all be Caesar soon til flee delivered I and Capt. the the when will forever. Return it others run B. stay am it.