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Eerie coincidences... - History's Newsstand Blog : History's Newsstand Blog

Eerie coincidences…

April 25, 2011 by  
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The “”Southern Illustrated News” was a somewhat failed attempt by the Confederacy to bring to its citizens an illustrated newspaper similar to “Harper’s Weekly” and “Leslie’s Illustrated“. Although the presumed feature of the Dec. 5, 1863 issue was the front page engraving & biography of Captain William Downs Farley, time caused several innocuous items on the back page to intrigue the historical collector.

The back page has several reports which bring together many of the names involved in the Lincoln assassination that would happen more than a year in the future. Under the theatrical reports is mention that: “…Laura Keene, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Walcott…lately formed an alliance known as ‘Laura Keen’s Combination & have been traveling through the Northern States…On Monday last huge posters were put out announcing the ‘American Cousin’ with Charles Walcott in one of the principal parts…” Remember that Laura Keene starred in “Our American Cousin”, the performance at Ford’s Theatre the evening of the assassination. Also on the back page: “Edwin Booth is playing in Boston supported by Mrs. Anna Cornell & Mr. Marshall.” He was the brother of John Wilkes Booth. Even his name is here, performing at Ford’s Theatre no less: “The present week is announced as the last of J. Wilkes Booth…at Ford’s New Theatre, Washington, D.C.” And a bit further on is even mention of the President: “…preparatory to his appearance at Richmond in the character of one of President Lincoln’s special peace envoys as already announced…” (see). This single page brings together the names Laura Keene, the play “Our American Cousin”, John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln, and Ford’s Theatre, an almost eerie coincidence, particularly for a Confederate newspaper.

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