booth initials

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Believe it or not, this gun was carried by John Wilkes Booth the night he shot Abraham Lincoln.

Two Guns

It is not disputed that  John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in Washington’s Ford Theater, but for over 100 years there has been a great debate over which of his two guns was the murder weapon!

After Booth shot the President, he managed to get out of theater with the help of conspirators, but he left behind on the stage the derringer that is now in the Ripley’s collection inscribed with “J.Wilkes Booth.”

The Hunt for a Presidential Assassin

After a massive manhunt, Booth was gunned down in a farmhouse in Virginia. On his body was a second identical matching derringer, but our derringer is believed to be the murder weapon because it clearly was on Booth’s body at the time of the assassination.

To further complicate the issue, some experts argued that the body shot in the farmhouse wasn’t Booth’s, but a man named James William Boyd!

Solving the Mystery

Not until 1971 – 106 years after the murder – did modern forensics finally solve the debate. Serrations inside the barrels of both guns were not identical, and only one matched the existing bullet fragments taken from Lincoln’s head.

That gun is now on display in Ford’s theater in Washington DC as part of the Smithsonian collection. The second pistol now belongs to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

See You in St. Augustine, Fireballers!

Exhibit No: BION17526