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Booth Saves Lincoln, Booth Kills Lincoln

Shortly before John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln his brother, Edwin Booth, saved the life of Abraham’s son, Robert Lincoln. Booth didn’t know the man he saved was the president’s son until months later when he received a letter complimenting him from a mutual friend.

Robert Lincoln, President Abraham Lincoln’s son, was in the process of boarding a train when it moved and he fell off the platform and onto the tracks. Edwin grabbed him by his collar and saved him from potential death or serious injury.

Robert Lincoln

Robert Lincoln, son of Abraham

Robert Lincoln recalled the experience of being saved by the brother of the man who assassinated his father in a letter to The Century Magazine:

The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car.

The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn.

In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform.

Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.

Edward Booth (in a rather fetching pose).

Edward Booth (in a rather fetching pose).


  • – One of many articles on the subject, Robert Lincoln was known to have been public in writing about the event in this article according to research. It mentions the time between the act and Booth finding out to be several years, other sources indicate it was only months.
  • Quote from The Century Magazine – I have not reviewed the magazine, but this appears to be a commonly cited source of the quote in this article, and Robert Lincoln was open about the events described here according to other research.
  • Images:, The Verge

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