The Shapell Manuscript Foundation explains that “his brains, he said, were worth twenty men, his money worth a hundred and best of all, with his profession, and his fame, he had a free pass everywhere. He told his sister how he moved as a spy among Union armies and, in the most distinguished Northern society, gathered intelligence.”
Eventually, Booth came up with a desperate plan to kidnap the president of the United States. But when a better opportunity presented itself, the actor set up the perfect scene for an assassination. He wrote a letter to John Ford, the owner of Ford’s Theater in Washington, arranging to appear in a play in November.
The letter, dated September 17th 1863, reads:
Your telegraph just rec’d:. Now that I understand it. All right. Book me for Nov 2d: for two weeks. I will be there and I will keep the two following weeks open a time longer. there may be a chance for Baltimore then, or you may want me to keep on in Washington. But consider the two weeks from Nov 2d settled. With best wishes
I am Yours Truly
J. WILKES BOOTH